Service delivery and the city of the future

Mar 27 2015 by Jas Gaurav Singh Print This Article

As society continuously progresses and local governments evolve, citizen expectations are changing. Citizens are now demanding effective service delivery from their municipalities. For your city to meet this demand and exceed citizen expectations, you need to continuously innovate based on the needs of your citizens. Innovative service delivery is about reimagining the service delivery through the eyes of the citizens and providing services that effectively meet the unique needs of your community.

Once a vivid and compelling vision for innovative service delivery is defined, the following points should help to guide a municipality forward as it begins its journey of realizing its service delivery vision:

Determine service delivery portfolio based on citizen’s needs

Engage citizens in determining the service portfolio, one comprised of traditional and non-traditional municipal services. Traditional services include education, public safety, and public works. Non-Traditional municipal services are based on the city’s social profile and 21st century citizen expectations. Examples include marketing campaigns to further develop tourism, crowdsourcing capabilities to develop ideas, and zero waste initiatives.

Additionally, your city should understand its competitive advantage. Leverage this advantage to develop the service delivery portfolio and in turn, enhance the city’s competitive advantage.

Reimagine service delivery through the eyes of the citizens

Take an outside-in view of service delivery and create a model built on consumption of services by the citizens (citizen experience). Develop service delivery based on a citizen’s view of receiving the services rather than a municipal view of providing the services.

Replace traditional mechanisms that focused on ‘department’ structures (e.g. department of public works) with innovative mechanisms based on ‘point of delivery’ structure (e.g. road repairs). Structure your city’s organization on this new service delivery model. Align resources to the service delivery points based on the criticality for the citizens rather than criticality based on administration’s view. Citizens should not have to ‘interpret’ any of the city services

Develop services with the “big picture” in mind

For services to deliver optimal value to your citizens, identify the interdependent (e.g. dispatch and police response) and complementary (e.g. tax assessment and tax collection) services. This will prevent delivering fragmented services or instances of one service impeding others. This model prioritizes outputs of services (e.g. number of permits issued) while considering citywide outcomes (e.g. resulting growth in tax base and business attraction from permits issued). Develop an ‘integrated view of the services’ which lists the services, outcomes, and dependencies on other services. Create ties to the services that are provided in the city by state and federal agencies.

Use technology to enhance service delivery

Once the desired services have been identified, you should conduct an assessment identifying existing capabilities and showing gaps in service delivery. Implement technology to enable these services and fill any identified gaps. Link the data that measures initialization, performance, and measurement of your city services. Identify and streamline the flow of information between all city services. This will drive automation of manual processes as well as easier access to information.

Continuously “right size” services based on current and expected demand

Your city should build scalable attributes in each service for both fixed and variable costs. Fixed costs, such as tenured employee salaries, should be based on minimum demand; variable costs, such as contracted services, should be based on scalable demand. Use quantitative methods to establish a “minimum” demand based on historical as well as future projections.

Right sizing also means understanding and planning around the “seasonality” of certain services and developing capabilities that can be scaled if there is unexpected demand. This positions your city to respond to the unexpected. Use regional demand for services that are regionalized. Partner with other cities to develop mutual access to shared services when capacity exists in one city and demand spikes in the other.

Enable ‘one-stop-shopping’ for your citizens

Engage city employees in the development of your service portfolio. Cross-train employees in different services where appropriate. Provide citizens with “one stop” to request delivery of all services. Enhance information systems to share data for various city services. This will enable employees to process requests for multiple services. One-stop-shopping will also increase the citizen’s accessibility of city services and provide the city with a holistic view of citizen requests.

Continuously engage citizens to improve service delivery

Develop a mechanism that continuously involves citizens to identify new services and request changes in existing services. Create key metrics based on the impact to citizens and what matters most to them (e.g. # of contacts for resolution; # of hours streets are ploughed after a snow storm; # of days to issue a commercial permit etc.). Provide easy access service performance monitoring to the citizens.

Additionally, gather citizen feedback at the point of delivery. Review citizen feedback on a periodic basis to make changes to the services where/when necessary.

In closing

Every city will have different needs based on the unique requirements of the city’s citizens. Each city’s needs will also vary based on different maturity levels of city services and the use of technology in the city. But the fundamentals of developing service delivery based on citizen experience, big picture impacts, technology, “one stop” citizen shopping, and continuous citizen feedback will ensure the city has an innovative service delivery program that continuously meets the needs of the citizens and is customized to meet the uniqueness of the community.


About The Author

Jas Gaurav Singh
Jas Gaurav Singh

Jas Gaurav Singh, MBA is a management consultant at BlumShapiro. Jas is passionate about various aspects of business transformation, especially those centered on the customer experience. His areas of expertise also include process improvement, change management, organizational design and strategic planning.