We like being a Little bit Different

Last week we attended a 2 day Local Government Partnership Network event. It was an extremely interesting and useful 2 days. The people we spoke to were passionate about their authorities and were all very focused on improving their services which is always good to hear.

On reflection there are many great take-aways from the 2 days but I want to share 2 in particular with you because they reaffirmed my belief that what we bring to the market is important.

Number 1, lots of people we sat down with said that their existing systems were failing them because they did not have and/or could not recruit and retain the people with the right skills as they were being priced out of offering competitive salaries by the private sector.

One of the biggest advantages of ESB is that you don’t need to be a developer to build systems on it. What you need is people that know what they want built that can be taught how to use a tool to help them realise that goal. In real terms you need a subject expert i.e. the service to tell you what they want and need and then a Business analyst to take that and logically build it in ESB, that means simply adding an easy to learn skill to your already talented staff and giving them a new tool to tackle problems.

Number 2, this was probably the one that hit me the most as it shows that a lot of private sector companies just don’t understand what makes local government tick.

Over the course of the 2 days I chatted to other suppliers about what it was that we did, on one occasion I was chatting to 2 suppliers, a software supplier and a consultancy firm. I gave an example of one of the processes that we have built into ESB for a local authority. It was around street cleaning but more specifically dog fouling. As I told them about how our process worked, the other suppliers had 2 comments. The 1st was that the process we had was overkill, people didn’t need to know what fouling had been reported already and they didn’t need telling when it had been dealt with because residents didn’t need the information. The 2nd was that surely, it’s a non-issue and people would just pick it up and not call the council. As they said it, I was baffled, how could companies selling consultancy and software systems to the public sector, not get something so simple? But the answer is also so simple, they don’t have the experience working in local government. They might have sold services there, consulted there and put software there but they have not felt priorities shift after an election. They haven’t had to explain to a member why the dog fouling has not been dealt with because they didn’t know it was an issue. This is where we really are very different, we have lived and breathed local government for a number of years between us. We built our product for local government specifically because we understand what it’s like to have the goal posts constantly moved because it’s happened to us too.

That’s why we see our experience of working in local authorities as one of our biggest strengths, it means we understand what’s important and why. And in turn that defines how we approach not only our product development but also how we approach our customers and their problems.

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