Local authorities are wasting two million man hours per year through the hidden costs of offering digital services, and this is set to grow significantly as digital delivery expands. This is the key finding of the National Digital Report, NDL’s annual survey into how technology is being used to support local authorities’ digital agenda.

Overwhelmingly, authorities continue to state that they want to meet the challenge of budget cuts through channel shift and by extending their online services, but actual end-to-end delivery remains slow and inefficient. While some authorities have demonstrated significant savings through integrating front and back-office systems, there is widespread manual re-keying of data elsewhere. This is creating significant financial waste across both online delivery and contact centres using CRM systems, which have been at the heart of the digital agenda for more than a decade.

Notable facts from the report include:

  •  Authorities are already wasting two million man hours per year by re-keying data they receive either through online services or via the CRM. They estimate that they are only one third along the path to digital delivery, meaning this figure will grow substantially.
  • The number of services available online is far lower than those supported in the contact centre via CRM systems. Proportionally, the number of online transactions taking place via e-forms is also even lower, which brings into question their ease of use and accessibility as well as public awareness of digital services.
  • 50 per cent of authorities are re-keying more than half the data they receive via e-forms, creating a current financial waste across the country of around £14 million. This is likely to increase substantially: as councils state they are only one third along the path to channel shift, there is a potential waste of around £45 million a year.
  • CRM installations are declining and giving way to e-forms, but authorities are continuing to increase the number of services running through them. Despite the maturity of these systems, 44 per cent of councils are still re-keying more than half the data put into the CRM, while 11 per cent are re-keying all data. This is creating an additional annual financial waste of approaching £40 million, and this is set to rise if authorities also continue to increase the number of services running through the CRM.
  • Shared services are achieving efficiency savings and the number of partnerships are likely to grow, but these are being undermined by a lack of integration across disparate legacy systems.


Declan Grogan, managing director of NDL, commented: “There are some authorities which have embraced innovative digital service creation and delivery and have made real savings, underpinned by the appropriate technology to eliminate manual processes. However, the vast majority of organisations have only implemented in sparsely selected areas and most are papering over the cracks by using manual labour to present allegedly end-to-end services. By investing in technology to support efficient digital service delivery, this will not only improve service delivery to citizens but also save money, preserving it for care, education and supporting the communities in which we all live.”

The National Digital Report surveyed 250 authorities across England, Scotland and Wales. Now in its tenth year, it continues previous years’ themes of e-forms, CRM and channel shift, but this year has also focused on related initiatives including shared services, shared data, open data and the cloud. Respondents, who work mostly in IT, transformation, contact centres and customer services, took part in 30-minute in-depth telephone interviews.

NDL supplies easy-to-use software toolkits to integrate disparate back-office systems and to develop offline, cross-platform mobile business applications. By radically simplifying these two key areas, NDL has given over 200 UK public sector organisations across local government and the NHS the ability to integrate and mobilise their systems. This has resulted in significant savings of both time and money, changing the way frontline services are being delivered. With a pedigree stretching over 30 years, NDL is a profitable UK company priding itself on both technical innovation and high standards of customer care.

For further press information, contact:

Annie Noble, Noble Ink, annie@noble-ink.com; 01725 517550 or 07887 990526
Helen Mountford, NDL Software Ltd, helen.mountford@ndl.co.uk; 01937 543500