The value of licensing tools for local authorities


Written by Nicola Ray, Head of Regulation, Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority

Governments and public sector organisations play an important role in creating the conditions for the effective delivery of public services. Responding to changes in technology by taking new approaches is key to providing high-quality services. But what does this look like in reality and how can technology be used to help create better outcomes, especially when working with external agencies and businesses that undertake licenced activity?

When we updated our own licensing system at the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) this year, I learned several things about what it’s like to collaborate with a tech supplier on a licensing project, and how these lessons are universal – they can apply to your local authority as well as our central government operation. The value of a robust licensing product that gives efficiency savings, withstands high demand, and delivers valuable reporting insight, cannot be understated.

Our move from legacy to cloud

With our prior system reaching end of life, we used the G-Cloud 12 framework to seek an agile supplier which catered to our organisational needs, while being officially sensitive and GDS compliant, and selected Arcus Global for the project. The system went live on 10 May 2021 with lots of businesses using the system almost immediately.

Our old system was managed internally, meaning this was the first time we had decided to branch out. With many local councils looking to work with external suppliers too, this is something of an increasing trend. For us and many others, collaboration has been a vital ingredient in the success of our updated digital system.

Giving time back to staff

When you go about the process in this way, working with a supplier to implement something via the cloud, you end up with a system that is flexible, with more ways to change the way things happen every day. You have the ability to customise, change things yourself and run reports that are highly tailored to your organisation. From managing caseloads to supporting escalations, there isn’t anything that can’t be made easier.

For those councils that want to get started, what is the most important thing to keep in mind?

To make the move, you need to understand what you want the system to deliver. For local authorities, this could be efficiency savings, enhanced reporting capabilities, and even a degree of self-service so that valuable staff time is redistributed to more urgent work. With Slough the latest council to run into trouble, it’s clear that financially, things are not getting any easier, and anything that saves staff time and money will be of huge benefit.

We wanted our new system’s users to have the ability to control the information they handle every day. As a regulator, we have a duty of care to the workers we are supporting and the businesses we work with; it’s no different to councils in that regard. Helping to improve standards and safety is something we can, as public sector bodies, all get behind.

Collaboration for licensing success

From day one, we understood that we were working in partnership with a supplier for the benefit of the workers we are trying to safeguard. Using proven technology like the Salesforce platform and working with a dedicated supplier to harness it, has meant the process was more straightforward than developing from scratch – something that undoubtedly local authorities will need to consider when thinking of updating their systems. Without that element of collaboration, it would have been far more painstaking.

Our system supports the licensing team with all high-priority tasks. It is also great for them to see a dashboard that isn’t individualised – so if someone is off, tasks can still be accessed and followed through regardless. This single source of truth can be invaluable to a team. When you simplify the processes, you ultimately save time, and protect workers.

The work that public sector organisations, including local authorities, do is vital in preventing modern slavery and exploitation of workers. So, it’s equally vital that daily operations are seamless, and that staff have all the digital tools they need at their disposal.

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