Yarra Ranges Council

Collaboratively designing a digital strategy for local government

We worked with Yarra Ranges Council and over sixty staff to co-create a clear digital and technology strategy and a roadmap that will inform their work for the next four years.

Collaboratively designing a digital strategy for local government
  • A cohesive digital and technology vision and strategy aligned to Yarra Ranges’ broader strategic objectives, and created using participatory methods

  • A roadmap of priority activities to be implemented over 3 time horizons, supporting Yarra Ranges to bring the digital and technology strategy to life

  • A visually compelling artefact that’s clear and relevant to staff across Council

Responding to the changing needs of a Council and its community

Yarra Ranges residents and visitors currently use digital platforms and products for a variety of applications. Increasingly, both the Council and the community have adapted to more digital ways of working, living and engaging. They register pets, apply for septic system permits, check aqua-aerobics timetables, pay rates, attend community forums and provide feedback to the Council on local services. Their needs and expectations are evolving as and the possibilities of digital tools are evolving too.

Yarra Ranges has been active in building digital and technology maturity and capability across the entire organisation. They brought us on to help them design an effective new digital strategy with a motivating vision and clear goals, co-created with staff.

It was important that the strategy be simple, easy to understand, beautiful to read and inspiring to those who read it. Its purpose would be to build strong foundations whilst maintaining high aspirations for the future of digital and technology at Yarra Ranges.

The vision statement that formed the foundation of the strategy

Co-creating with the whole organisation

We brought Council employees into the design process so that we could more fully understand the depth and breadth of Yarra Ranges’ context, needs and challenges, as well as make sure our work was relevant to all Yarra Ranges staff and stakeholders. Together, we defined what the vision and corresponding strategic priorities should be.

We engaged with more than 45 executives, managers and officers through interviews and workshops, with participation across 14 of the 16 Council directorates. It was the first time these staff had been involved in designing a strategy using participatory methods.

You’ve done a magnificent job connecting the pieces for us.

Head of Transformation, Yarra Ranges Council

Making strategy immediately tangible

Yarra Ranges Council requested a digital and technology strategy that they could start putting into action immediately. To deliver on this, we asked operational employees across the organisation to identify and prioritise specific key activities that would help achieve the outcomes articulated in the new strategy. The roadmap we co-created from this input described and informed practical next steps, and those beyond, reaching well into the next half-decade.

The roadmap outlined practicable next, next and future steps to action the strategy

Inclusive and accessible design

It was crucial to us that the final strategy reflected the vibrancy of the sessions we facilitated with Council staff, and empowered all those who contributed their time and perspectives to become genuine advocates of the new direction.

Digital and technology fields can be quickly alienating for those that don’t understand the language or concepts involved. For this reason, we felt it was important to use plain language and avoid jargon in the new strategy. We increased understanding by replacing less familiar terms and assumed knowledge with words that our staff participants used themselves to discuss the concepts. Our final document was also designed to be highly visual and accessible to read for all levels of the organisation.

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