County, borough, district, parish and town councils – who does what and how do they work together? Understanding this is just the beginning: councils are only one aspect of the UK’s Public sector.
Responsible for managing all public services from healthcare to education, social care to housing, refuse collection to international development, tourism promotion to pensions, it’s a complex sector but it’s essential that it collaborates within and across other organisations to deliver services.
And there is just not enough collaboration, according to some.
Each public sector service – like education or healthcare – also has its own employers and employees, not to mention private providers, and they all need to communicate with each other, too. Joined up thinking, planning and collaboration – whether it’s between healthcare and social care, education and social care, tourism and international development – is essential in order for the public sector to deliver.
One of the lessons learned, in a study published by the Institute for Government in 2011, was that: ‘Successful collaborations have a common purpose, strong insistence on a whole systems approach, shared power, and used the service user’s perspective to stimulate change. Neglecting any of these four core themes makes the collaboration less successful.’
We couldn’t have put it better ourselves.
With a decline in spending – central government funding for councils has already been cut by 40% and the Institute for Fiscal Studies anticipates that the spending cuts will continue until 2020 – and a demand for greater accountability, there has never been more pressure on the public sector to deliver its services more economically.
And improving collaboration in the public sector is easier than it might first look because, by and large, the tools for this are already in use by most employees. Personal smart phones, iPads, laptops or computers mean that most people are already familiar with the online communications platforms through which they can collaboration across the workplace, especially with the secure, easily accessible digital technology now available.
With cost-effective unified communications technology like Cisco WebEx and Microsoft's Skype for Business there’s every reason to explore its possibilities and take the public sector into a more collaborative place, to the benefit of both service providers and users alike.