While affinity and adaptability underpin all effective partnerships, innovation and progression are the qualities required for effective service transformation.
Common to both is the need for short-term goals and longer-term outcomes to satisfy challenging budgetary and service development objectives, made more challenging in recent times by the ever-rising expectations of the citizens we serve.
The need for such adaptability and innovation was in evidence from day one of our ground-breaking partnership with Glasgow City Council. Called ACCESS, the partnership is now in its seventh year and comprises a comprehensive programme to maintain strict budget control while delivering substantial service improvements for the benefit of staff and citizens alike, an enormous undertaking for the UK’s second largest local authority.
But the clear goals and outcomes set by the council have fostered a vision for continuous improvement, a collective sense of responsibility and an aspirational culture that have all helped the partnership to protect front-line services and meet ambitious efficiency targets.
Even with its accommodation and facilities challenges, the clear vision of the council and innovative approach of the partnership was key. ACCESS was central to the delivery of the ‘tomorrow’s office’ initiative to improve the use, quality and management of the council’s large property portfolio.
Six years on the council is now able to maximise co-location and sharing of resources, helping to safeguard facilities that would otherwise be seen as unsustainable in the current economic environment, and delivering annual savings of £6m for the next 25 years.
It’s an approach that has proved invaluable in a year that has seen a huge influx of visitors in the city – not just sportsmen and sportswomen, but also dignitaries, observers and media representatives from all over the world.
Such major global events will always pose challenges and place extra pressure on those providers of local public services and city centre facilities and, not surprisingly, many of the council’s properties have been hosting special events throughout the past year.
It has been a tremendously challenging and rewarding year for the country, city, council and partnership. And the joint vision has underpinned all of our hard work.
With sights set firmly on the agreed short-term goals and longer-term outcomes, it’s that much easier for local authorities and individuals within their workforce to contemplate, encourage and accept adaptation and innovation.
Certainly, focusing on the tangible benefits of such forward-thinking will, in my experience, help to remove any residual blinkers and overcome many of the cultural obstacles that at first sight may appear to be impenetrable and insurmountable to service transformation.
Faye Shaw, chief executive officer, ACCESS
Column sponsored and supplied by Serco