PwC with North Lanarkshire Council

Performance Improvement in the Public Sector

Residents of North Lanarkshire live in one of the most economically deprived areas of Scotland. North Lanarkshire Council (NLC) is responsible for serving and supporting those residents, constantly seeking to improve the quality, reach and impact of its services. But NLC was facing the twin problems of needing to make large-scale budget cuts at a time it was also failing to keep pace with demand from its residents in a particularly important area: access to digital services.

The Council’s Chief Executive was convinced that improving NLC’s digital capabilities could not only solve their budget and service issues but could also play a major role in revitalising the local economy. To achieve this, NLC needed to undertake a major digital transformation, and indeed, the resulting ‘DigitalNL’ initiative became the boldest digital transformation programme in Scottish local government history.

In 2018, PwC was entrusted with leading the client through its complex digital journey. Their role was to help set out a vision for a digital future – and then make it a reality. First, however, NLC needed to secure funding and support to deliver its ambition, in the face of all-too-familiar and far-reaching budget cuts. But therein lies the genius of the solution: a digital transformation that would not only empower the local digital economy but also drive large-scale cost efficiencies across the council. Two birds, one stone.

PwC worked alongside NLC to produce clearly defined objectives. These were to:

  • deliver a new digital target operating model that improves the resident experience;
  • digitise internal working, and train staff accordingly;
  • procure a systems integrator to implement the new technology stack;
  • drive large-scale efficiencies within the Council; and
  • make the programme self-funding.

The solution saw PwC achieve approval on a £30m business case to begin the transformation journey; run an £11m technology procurement to a rapid timescale; empower a Council-led robotic process automation (RPA) function through skills transfer; and design and implement a transformational Target Operating Model. Moreover, they also digitally redesigned a number of Council services and upskilled a team of Council change analysts.

DigitalNL required PwC to implement new skills, technologies and ways of working to digitally serve NLC’s customers, as well as transform the entire shape and size of the Council and its workforce. The RPA team has implemented robots to reduce manual processing, improving the resident experience and generating a £60k annual saving. A number of services have been digitally redesigned, including waste, fleet, building control, planning and internal HR services, and PwC supported NLC in identifying £25m of annual recurring benefits – an immediate return on the £30m cost of the programme.

As for empowering the local digital economy, PwC put forward a truly extraordinary solution: free, universal broadband for all NLC residents. This will remove barriers to education, business and success – and help bring an end to the deprivation in the area.

DigitalNL is successfully a self-funding programme, which is turning early benefits into increased funding for future improvements. NLC started 2019 with a digital vision, and ended it with a full-scale digital transformation programme.

View the PwC profile in the MCA Members Directory.