Sponsored: Connecting it All Together: The Future of Front-Line Service Delivery

12 Aug 21

Building on a twenty-year heritage as a pioneering IT company, Team Netsol is determined to make use of the latest technologies to offer the very best products to local authorities, its primary  customers.

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Netsol is running a major, ambitious programme to address two related issues that have frustrated local authorities for many years: IT systems that don’t talk to each other and a lack of  integration in local services, sometimes referred to as ‘working in silos’. The two feed off each other and hinder other beneficial developments such as the automation of processes. For the citizen, it means presenting the same information over and over again and continually being passed from pillar to post. Netsol’s experience in cutting-edge technology makes it well suited to take up the challenge, which is ultimately all about building first-class services for local residents. 

Certainly, councils have developed a variety of solutions to these issues. Online portals are becoming common, offering a gateway to a range of services through a single sign-on. For employees, this means logging on just once to get access to all applications and data for which they have permission. For the citizen, it means easier access to information and services. And APIs (or Application  Programming Interfaces), the software that allows two applications to talk to each other, have been developed to link up various IT systems. 

These developments provide some welcome improvements. But there are weaknesses – portals tend to be either service specific, mainly driven by revenues and benefits departments, or corporate with limited reach. Appropriate data-sharing and effective automation are often blocked. So, we are  left with a patchwork quilt of solutions.  

Netsol is looking to connect this patchwork quilt more effectively so that everything will appear seamlessly fluid to both staff and citizens. Instead of proposing that councils take on a whole set of new expensive solutions from scratch, Netsol is building on the services and technology that already exist but making the connections between them much, much better. 

Netsol will make improved connections in five key areas: 

The first connection is a single sign-on for staff, not only for the full range of Team Netsol products but also, crucially, a version which can work alongside or within corporate or service-specific portals. Unlike those companies that promise to build a new portal that will revolutionise the way local  government works, this neat solution builds on what is already there. So, the Netsol offering brings  all the known advantages of single sign-on (greater security and compliance, improved use and  employee satisfaction, and lower IT costs) without the expense and disruption of wholesale change.  

A similar arrangement will be available for citizens so their access will mirror their day-to-day interactions with web-based services. Again, this allows a seamless experience for users who will not feel frustrated when moving between two or more local authority services – they will have signed in  for them all.  

The second connection will link up existing Netsol products with systems that manage the flow of  work within authorities, by creating automated messages in real-time. There will also be integration  with back-office systems which are typically used to process, manage and store information on, say,  benefit claims and council tax liability. The Netsol delivery model enables integration across multiple  systems, making it possible to share data wherever it needs to go in real-time, all accessible from  one location. The main advantage of this is the scope for more automation of processes, removing  unnecessary human interventions. This will allow authorities to make savings and/or put more  resources into front-line services. 

An additional component will be an application that will allow non-technical staff to quickly produce  and deploy straightforward forms for specific services, reducing costs and making customer services  more personalised.  

The third connection will involve easier data-sharing while maintaining privacy. One of the key  advantages of linking up different systems is the possibility of pooling data. This provides exciting  opportunities for real-time and historic data analysis to bring new insights into business strategy at  all levels. Along with better reporting, improved visibility, and insights to your data. 

The fourth connection will involve integration with reference products. It can be frustrating to have to go offline or use a different online application to get the required information. So, the integrated  services will be accompanied by resources such as a library of available forms.  

The final connection will make use of state-of the art technology to allow the creation of more  advanced, complex online forms and ultimately the capacity to create tailored, linked-up processes  for automating complex transactions.  

In short, Netsol is harnessing cutting-edge technology to help local authorities support their citizens.  At last. we can look forward to effective integration and automation of local authority services,  bringing a vastly improved experience for citizens, and greater productivity and substantial cost reduction for authorities.  

  • Paul Howarth

    Paul Howarth is currently an independent consultant specialising in welfare and taxation. He has through his long career served as Head of the Department for Work and Pension’s Housing strategy  Department overseeing Housing Benefit and many of its critical reforms. 

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