Here is a great UK-specific post from Michael Wignall who leads the public sector team for Microsoft Dynamics in the UK, focusing on customer relationship management (CRM) solutions for Central, Local and Regional Government, Public Safety and National Security, Health and Education customers.

It was so good it was also posted on our Worldwide Government blog - definitely worth a read...

In the UK, there is a dramatic shift occurring in the way that the government is delivering services to citizens - it's going digital by default. As part of a recently announced digitalisation strategy, the government aims to make its roughly 1 billion annual transactions with citizens and businesses completely digital. What's more, this impressive effort is estimated to potentially save the government £1.2bn in the next three years. With dramatic cost savings like this, it's no wonder that other countries, driven by austerity and cost-cutting pressure, are also considering digitalisation strategies. At the centre of many of these efforts is customer relationship management (CRM) software.

CRM  offers a unique opportunity for governments to obtain a more complete picture of their citizens as "individual customers" and, by doing so, can help eliminate the need for citizens to submit redundant applications and information to apply for various government services. In essence, CRM allows government organisations to provide services in a much more integrated, cost effective way. Not to mention that, by shifting to online services with CRM, governments can eliminate the need for their citizens to wait in long queues at brick-and-mortar offices.

The promise of CRM is clear-cut. However, implementing the technology effectively can come with challenges. That's why I've prepared three tips, based on my conversations with customers implementing CRM, to help you best prepare for your own implementation.

  1. Understand how your citizens want to interact with you, consume government services, and through which channels. One of the most frequent issues that I hear from our customers is that, after going through great effort to offer a government service online with CRM, it's not getting the response or use they had hoped for. The lesson here is to understand how your citizens prefer to interact with you and access government services. While in some cases a citizen may want a new service, delivered via an online portal, in others, they may simply be looking for more information, made accessible via a basic website.

  2. Cultural challenges: employee resistance to new technologies and customer-oriented service delivery. Another barrier to successful CRM adoption can be within your own organisation. Shifting to CRM can be a major cultural shift, as employees who were once used to working behind a desk, must now be actively engaged with citizens and responding to their service requests. In addition, presenting employees with a new technology can be a roadblock, as employees often prefer to work with familiar tools and don't want to have to learn yet another program. The good news is that with Dynamics CRM, the solution integrates seamlessly within our suite of Office solutions. This can help dramatically reduce the learning curve for employees and can also help improve the likelihood of adoption.

  3. Keeping CRM in pace with constantly changing policies. Government policies change all the time. In the U.K., for example, we're currently going through the biggest welfare reforms since 1948. As a result, these types of changes can have a dramatic impact on the ongoing management and function of CRM systems. That's why it's important to select a CRM solution that can adapt to policy changes without requiring a long and complicated redevelopment or coding process. A key feature of Dynamics CRM is that it enables governments to quickly put policy changes into action, and can do this in a much more automated fashion, eliminating the need for a system integrator to manually develop a new business rule or process change for the entire system.

Governments of the future will be digital by default, and CRM can play an important role in achieving this vision. One of my favorite examples of an effective CRM deployment is that of the Welsh Assembly Government in the U.K. It's one that I frequently share with customers. If you'd like to learn more, you can access the full case study on our website. Enjoy!

Have a comment or opinion on this post? Let us know @msukingov. Have a question for the author? Please e-mail us at ukps@microsoft.com.

Michael Wignall, Public Sector Sales Lead - Dynamics, Microsoft UK