The LocalGov Drupal team spoke to 35 councils about what was good about LocalGov Drupal, and what factors were acting as barriers. Here, we’re giving a summary of their findings and solutions.
The general consensus
Drupal and open source software are no longer as much of a hurdle [for the public sector] as they once were. In point of fact, many councils now view the sharing of code and working together on projects as the "ethical thing to do."
Though, the decision to switch to a different web publishing platform is still a significant one. Councils are known for taking their time and asking a great deal of questions before going to tender. Regarding the manner in which councils arrive at conclusions, it’s necessary that the LGD team and project be exceptionally transparent, all-inclusive, and open.
Why would councils consider LocalGov Drupal?
- In their interviews, the LGD unearthed the reasons a council would consider a new site:
- Ease of use for end users and residents
- Improve the look and feel of the design
- Accessibility compliance
- Cooperation, collaboration and consistency between different councils
However, choosing a new web platform is made more difficult by the following factors:
- Belief that a new site will be more difficult to develop and maintain
- Feel there is a lack of flexibility and lock-in with suppliers
LocalGov Drupal is an easy choice
The strong story of contributing to sharing code and councils supporting one another for the greater good resounded with multiple councils, which indicates that the project's ethos and ideology are successfully reaching them.
Almost all of those who responded to the question of interest in collaborating with other councils. It seems councils value the chance to share their knowledge and work together to solve problems that are widespread.
Considering that many councils are already operating on what are referred to as "shoestring budgets," financial and time savings are naturally an important consideration.
Barriers to adopting LocalGov Drupal
Several councils highlighted obstacles that prevented them from getting started with LGD.
26% of people answered that the problem was a lack of available developers or assistance. A challenge that is unique to more compact councils that have less resources available on-site.
There is also concern among some smaller councils that they will have less power in the decision-making process.
Cultures on the inside and senior management that fail to understand the significance of digital innovation also hinder uptake and progress.
Concern that the project's future may be jeopardised by an inability to get adequate long-term funding.
Lack of perceived maturity on the part of the project/system.
Quotes from interviews with the councils
"[A concern is that] we join the project and it runs out of steam or funding or you know, the project loses its way, and we realise that we've backed the wrong horse."
Head of IT & Customer Services
"A while ago, I heard from one of our developers about it [LocalGov Drupal]. I thought that it was a good idea. And we took it to our boss and he said, Oh, that's not really for us. And that was it really."
“Yes, I think it’s great [the collaborative aspect] so long as your voice was heard too. I would say smaller councils would want it to be a level playing field"
Corporate Services Manager
Outcomes of the interviews and what councils need to move forward with LGD
The LGD team listened to the concerns of the councils and the following solutions were advised:
Make signing up as simple as it can possibly be.
Assign support at the very beginning of the proces. A central point of contact or buddy system, and new joiner onboarding workshops.
Support that is both targeted and differentiated, depending on the interests of the people and the resources they have available, such as offering a personal adviser, lessons, or learning from peers.
People will be able to test out LocalGov Drupal through trial instals and a sample website before making a permanent commitment.
What aspects of Drupal should be improved to make LocalGov more appealing?
- 14% of respondents said they wanted demos and case studies
- 11% said they wanted access to support
More inclusive decision-making process, especially for newcomers and smaller councils.
An easier way to read the project news to keep up with the decisions made.
Less time consuming and rigid format for decision-making than regular virtual meetings, e.g. through digital voting.
Improve the clarity of communication
Material that is more understandable and readily available, such as case studies and testimonials, documentation explaining what the project is all about, frequently asked questions and solutions to problems.
A clearer explanation of the benefits of the project, such as making the financial and time savings associated with it more evident.
Additional efforts should be made to promote the initiative, such as by participating in activities that are attended by council members.
Procurement and other other barriers aside, there is no denying that LocalGov Drupal is suitable for council use because it was developed by council teams, and the requirements of many organisations are generally the same.
Councils are looking for solutions that are adaptable, encourage collaboration, don't break the bank, and are simple to use. Any skill gap internally for councils to maintain a new LGD site can easily be solved with a support contract with a Drupal expert agency.