The lure of embracing digital-by-default systems in the public sector is always the same, isn’t it? Saving money? And it’s true that if you do away with the printing and processing and storing of all those paper forms, your organisation will save money. But sometimes saving money in the short term is really just the start. Digital-by-default systems have the power to fundamentally change workflows, improve outcomes and offer new services with fewer resources. This is what Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council did.

They wanted to use technology to enable better support for those working with the most troubled members of society. They wanted to use technology to achieve better outcomes for those families. Some of the savings for society from these changes may be years ahead in the future, but in a local authority where half of its controllable budget is spent on just 5% of its families, it’s clear how this focus might pay off.

Stockport MBC wanted an outcome-based tool for its assessment process which would reduce duplication and enforce a holistic approach. A tool where different outcomes and multiple agencies could be proactively monitored for its Supporting People and Troubled Families programs, and ensure that payment by results programmes were delivering best value. Using the Semitae solution from Microsoft partner IEG4, the council is now able to achieve this.

Having all of a citizen’s service information in one, central, digital location made it easier to refer citizens to services – even services the citizen hadn’t previously known about. It also meant that case workers could do more of their jobs in the field using mobile devices and IEG4’s Casenot.es application.

Digital files made a difference on the back end too. Local councils often have to work with multiple agencies to deliver services. Now that all their information was digital, Stockport found that coordination between agencies and even third-sector organisations was smoother and more efficient. According to one estimate, case assessments now take as much as 50% less time.

Finally, the Stockport launched a payment-by-results pilot. Since both citizen requests and employee actions are tracked online, it’s easy to see when progress is being made. Management has total visibility of the process and can allocate resources accordingly.

Microsoft CityNext stories aren’t really about technology. They’re about people finding ways to transform their cities. Stockport’s story shows how local governments have the power to not only conserve resources, but challenge themselves to rethink how they provide services. Sometimes, the two are one and the same.