We want the Borough of Maidstone to be a vibrant, prosperous, urban and rural community at the heart of Kent, where everyone can realise their potential.
This vision is set out in our strategic plan and our digital strategy supports the achievement of that vision and the whole Council’s goals, by re-imagining how we design, deliver and operate our services in the internet age. It explains what we're going to do to make Maidstone a truly digital council and borough over the next three years and beyond.
Digital is not just about delivering a list of activities or implementing new technology. As much as anything digital is a mindset. It's about being user-centred and adaptive and is an enabler of everything the Council is doing.
The strategy builds on our commitment to the Local Digital Declaration, creating an environment of flexibility, creativity and innovation so our people can thrive and provide excellent user centred services to the public. It also explains how we will support the Borough of Maidstone, its residents and businesses to realise the full benefits of the internet age.
What we aim to achieve
If we successfully deliver this strategy over the next three years, we will have achieved:
A fundamentally better customer experience of interacting with the Council. People will be able to get what they want, the first time they try, and not need multiple touch points to do simple tasks
A better understanding of our residents, through the better use of joined-up data, using modern technology to join data sets and get insights which allow us to continuously improve our services and make better decisions.
Happier, more productive staff, working flexibly, who are equipped with all the technology they need to do their jobs and work from anywhere
More efficient processes that optimise technology to give customers what they need quickly and free up staff time from low value repetitive tasks
A reduction in digital exclusion – more people getting the support they need 84
A positive impact on our climate commitment
What we mean by Digital
The word digital is understood and interpreted in lots of ways. We use this definition in the public sector to describe what we mean by digital:
“Digital means applying the culture, processes, business models & technologies of the internet era to respond to people’s raised expectations”
Tom Loosemore – Co-founder of the Government Digital Service
Where are we now?
The Council is already relatively advanced in its digital journey. Our first digital strategy was published all the way back in 2011, and was then built on and combined with the concept of introducing customer-centred digital-first design across all customer-facing services, in our transformative Customer Service Improvement Strategy 2013-16. This was then followed by our 2018-2021 Digital Strategy.
Face to face enquiries have fallen 99% since 2013, with calls to the contact centre reducing 60% in the same period. This has been made possible by improving services generally and meeting customer demand for high quality digital services. In 2020 there were 2.4m visits to the Council’s website maidstone.gov.uk, where we provide more than 100 online services for people to self-serve 24/7; around 192,000 online transactions were completed in 2021. The ten most popular online services have a digital take up of more than 80%.
Our ability to pivot and respond to the Coronavirus pandemic, delivering new services rapidly through the use of agile methods and shifting to almost full homeworking overnight were just some of the positives in a difficult and challenging period. This has been possible because of the work completed during our previous Digital Strategy for 2018-2021 which includes:
Signing the Local Digital Declaration, a public pledge along with hundreds of other councils to meet high standards for our technology and digital services and adopt digital culture and ways of working
Creating a Digital and Transformation board, chaired by the Chief Executive to ensure digital transformation, data and technology decisions are made at a high level by the right people from across the Council
Meeting the required accessibility standards for our main Council website and being the first public sector organisation to obtain a score of 100 for website accessibility from SOCITM in 2021
Introducing an in-house self-scan document submission service for our customers
Implementing Skype for business for all our people – staff and members
Using techniques and toolkits to increase capability for agile project delivery and user-centred service design
Converting the process for garden waste subscribers away from paper invoices to digital-first, ensuring all subscribers were registered and could easily pay their subscription, and any bins that were no longer required by households were collected for re-use.
Designing a number of processes at pace to support the work of the Council’s community hub, which helped those who needed assistance during the pandemic, being agile and changing these in the face of the very fluid environment in which the Council was working
Continuously improving the ability of staff to be able to access the network seamlessly, just as if they were in the office, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic
Increasing the use of business intelligence through Microsoft Power BI, building dashboards so teams can access real time information to understand service performance and use this to make key decisions on service design and provision
Making use of information using Oneview, so that we were able to predict who was likely to become homeless and intervene early to prevent this – of the group of households at risk of becoming homeless the team worked with, less than 1% became homeless, compared with 40% of the households the team were unable to contact due to a lack of capacity.