Lambeth is the largest inner London borough with a diverse and welcoming population of more than 320,000 people. The local council offers many services helping to provide better schools, jobs, streets, homes and wellbeing for its residents. The goal is to deliver equitable experiences and outcomes for everyone — regardless of age, ethnicity or financial standing. Data plays a critical role in the success of these initiatives.
During the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Lambeth Council’s Head of the Data Analytics and Insight Team resigned, leaving them with an urgent gap to fill. This was especially critical in light of the challenges they were facing after the COVID-19 outbreak. The Council had to deal with the spreading of the virus and protect more than 300,000 Lambeth residents.
Lambeth Council needed to find a way to define, monitor, deliver and report on data-driven initiatives and efficiently engage with stakeholders and senior staff across Lambeth’s five core directorates. The Council decided to use Objectivity’s assistance in addressing these needs.
The task was to review Lambeth’s existing processes and provide recommendations for improvement. At the same time, the team would support the tactical COVID-19 services as well as ongoing data-driven strategic initiatives.
Objectivity performed two initial exercises for Lambeth before addressing the vacancy for the Head of the Data Analytics and Insight Team.
The first step was an audited review of Lambeth’s internal project management application in terms of design, architecture and sustainability. The review was focused on several factors:
- Is the application scalable?
- Does the application’s design promote ease of maintenance and future enhancements? Is there a solid foundation on which to build additional features?
- Is there sufficient version control to identify what exists in any release? Can you easily roll-back to a previous version of the application if something goes wrong?
- How well is the application designed and coded?
- After the audit, Lambeth was able to implement a set of recommended actions and improve the application.
Secondly, Objectivity conducted an exercise to determine how the DA&I team can engage better with both internal and external customers. The outcome was a document describing our findings, recommendations and conclusions following the engagement. The report presented appropriate Lambeth stakeholders with information that helps them to make informed decisions.
Having received the report and guidelines, Lambeth decided to extend the cooperation and appoint Matthew Weaver, the consultancy director at Objectivity, as the interim Head of the Data Analytics and Insight team. The goals for this position were:
- Identify and define data-driven strategies to improve people’s lives, reduce costs and drive decision making.
- Create a framework for recording and tracking team activities.
- Support the delivery of initiatives to help people affected by coronavirus.
- Outline a consistent and repeatable way to execute predictive analytics and other data-driven projects.
- Effectively handover work-streams and working practices to a new permanent head of the data team.
Moreover, the DA&I team organised a series of presentations and workshops for the London Office of Technology and Innovation. They also shared their knowledge and best practices with neighbouring councils e.g. in terms of surge testing.
“Working with Objectivity over this period was extremely valuable to Lambeth. Their expertise and knowledge enabled us to deliver first rate services to our residents during the height of the pandemic.”
As the result of the 7-month cooperation, Lambeth Council improved their service progress and reporting by introducing a simple and effective workflow for new data initiatives. The projects are now being conducted efficiently, according to a newly established framework.
Additional strategic data-driven initiatives were identified across all directorates at Lambeth Council. They can be easily prioritised thanks to value-effort mapping introduced by the interim Head of the DA&I team. Lambeth also follows a consistent process for defining, measuring and delivering data services. This data-driven approach helps to transform data into meaningful insights that drive decisions and behaviours.
The DA&I team developed a number of applications which helped with surge testing and contact tracing, and provided support for Clinically Extremely Vulnerable citizens. The actions taken by the team improved the safety and wellbeing of Lambeth’s residents throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
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