By April 2015, local authorities within the UK will have faced and be expected to resolve even more budget reductions yet be under greater pressure than ever to provide increasing results to their stakeholders and to the public.
For the majority, resources have already been streamlined, costs reduced as much as possible, the immediate impact of reduced services experienced, and softer resources such as technology and the sharing of internal services have been or are being rationalised.
So what’s next? It may not be possible to work any 'harder' at reducing cost and saving money, so the option for each organisation may be to consider to work 'smarter'. The creation of a smarter working agenda and follow up practices can lead to cost savings, process and efficiency gains, greater staff value and retention and increased output, so surely its worth considering?
For example, what if we could use technology and a collaboration principle? It is often the case that you can solve many problems while being at the specific location if you are equipped to do so, you don’t need return journeys, or multiple journeys.
Field based workers are often duplicated in the field, so have a think about this - once a task is being completed by a direct services organisation or contractor, why couldn’t they provide the post works inspection and photo from mobile devices to avoid re-sending an inspector?
And if we start asking those questions and thinking about organising workload management and optimising cross-party performance, perhaps there’s more collaboration that could be used to offset the local government teams requirement to be so directly involved, or that they could be reassigned to other matters. This provides a reduction in time spent on each activity, an effective use of time, a reduction of travel and fuel cost, a potential increase in carbon-offset (which can influence revenue input from Carbon Credits) and in increase in works completion and therefore a positive influence in performance criteria.
Pitney Bowes is working collaboratively with many local government and private contractors where joining client and operational teams under an umbrella of mutual performance criteria is a wholly effective example of increased performance and cost saving across the board.
This can be tied together with available technology – for example Pitney Bowes’ Workzone and Strategic Asset Management (SAM) products which will allow the management and visualisation of the short, medium and long term outcomes, with daily results orientated reporting across the strategy to enable effective decision making.
Working smarter is not just about saving money, its about making money to supplement those reducing budgets. It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that we have skilled resources that we can offer to the world outside of the immediate public sector remit. For example, local government already offers private chargeable refuse collections, so why not garden services, or tree services? If you manage a depot, can you offer MOT’s, and auto services to the public? Why couldn’t you to contract to manage the lighting in an industrial park for a private organisation, or provide facilities maintenance for a corporate organisation’s office suite?
Such activities are not only revenue generating but have other benefits to the immediate local economy; increased local business, increased local employment, a greater inclusive relationship with the public are just some examples. And, some authorities are currently delivering this with one of the biggest challenges being the availability of the information to the public.
Resources such as Pitney Bowes' communications tier can be used to proactively advertise these services on an intelligent basis. For example, if you move into the locality and start to pay local business rates we can target appropriate communications to offer facilities management and refuse collection activity via traditional mail, email or bi directional web activity.
We can do the same if you are a school, including the grounds maintenance content, and we can use spatial technology to proactively inform those affected of road closures, changes to refuse collections and one off schemes.
More importantly we can provide options to communicate, via social media outlets and direct contact with the public to gain their idea’s, trust and feedback, building liaison and trust within the community as a multi-faceted bi-directional corporation with the local economy’s interest at heart.
And we didn’t have to work harder – just smarter.
Steve Hanks is EMEA Business Development Manager at Pitney Bowes