Data-driven Government at Surrey County Council: Dynamic Performance Reports Drive Transformation

Surrey County Council |

Surrey County Council, home to over one million residents and an innovator in local government, faces the same challenge as many local councils across the UK: how to continue to deliver services that are easy to use, responsive and offer value for money--all while demands are increasing and financial resources are decreasing.

Surrey will meet this challenge by working with residents and partners. Making better use of its data to help inform decision making is at the heart of the changes.

“The key question we wanted to answer was how we can get a clearer sense of how we are doing? We also want to be more effective communicating" explains, Dan Shurlock, Senior Manager, Policy and Performance.

For Shurlock the first steps on the data-driven journey required the team to:

  • Set ambitious goals and identify data to measure them
  • Ensure everyone across the council is focused on outcomes
  • Measure performance constantly
  • Communicate results widely
  • Revise and improve

Changing the culture of a County Council, and getting data at the heart of the decisions it takes is no small feat. Surrey County Council has a long history of using data to improve services, but this new process will still take some time to work though. However Shurlock is already able to describe some surprising quick wins by “just starting”.

Surrey County Council needed a solution that delivered performance information through a modern web-based  user experience. Providing information about how services are delivered allows the council to communicate while also ensuring that the data was accessible, more visually appealing and easier to drill down into.

“Our old performance management systems were not focussed on web-based interactive exploration. But our residents, councillors, and service leaders now all need a visual and stimulating way of understanding all of the work we do, including how we set priorities and measure progress against them" adds Dan.

The council also wanted to move to a more data centric view of the word to help them operate more efficiently. Having access to a solution like Socrata’s Open Performance complemented this cultural change.

"We wanted to set goals, and to track progress against them, as well as to help us get a better understanding of what works"

Shurlock goes on to describe how the principles of better goal-setting and clearer accountability were very important.

"We also wanted to be very clear on being able to measure how well we were doing against our corporate strategy."

Shurlock is delighted with the changes so far, describing how Socrata’s Open Performance was already provoking better internal conversations about goal setting, and performance management. Shurlock anticipates the council will see numerous benefits including:

  • Getting performance data into the hands of decision makers
  • Developing a better understanding of “what works”
  • More innovation, leading to improved services
  • Engaging more residents more deeply in the democratic process

Shurlock notes the Council will continue adding more and more live data into the performance dashboards, ensuring residents have real-time knowledge of how the Council is delivering for them.

Internally we wanted to shift our mindset, and culture to become more data driven. We wanted to set goals, and to track progress against them, as well as to help us get a better understanding of what works.
  • DAN SHURLOCK Senior Manager, Policy and Performance