The Society of Information Technology Management (Socitm) says council websites are still struggling to integrate third party software for functions such as renewing library books or paying parking fines and that it is affecting usability.
The issue of third party software is at the heart of the current discussions among local government IT and digital professionals as, if fully integrated, such software can both enhance online customer experience and reduce costs.
There is scheduled to be a widespread discussion of problems and solutions at an upcoming one day event: ‘Use of third party software: addressing a major problem for council web teams’, organised by Socitm in London on 27th November.
The event will feature contributions from two suppliers, IDOX and Capita, who have both engaged with Socitm’s “Better connected” team in response to evidence of widespread problems arising from Socitm’s annual survey of council websites. The companies have been invited to share the usability problems identified through “Better connected” research and are to give presentations on planning and library management systems respectively.
The extent of issues has been underlined by a recent exercise commissioned by Socitm, which utilised the social care pages to carry out several tasks and then provide feedback rating the service.
The user experience was tested on three different tasks: apply for blue badge, required for disabled parking, finding equipment for the elderly and find respite care for carers.
The blue badge test was rated “very good” by 72% of all testers irrespective of the site tested. On the other hand, the equipment for the elderly task was only rated by 12% of all testers as very good and the respite care test only rated by 8% as very good.
The poor results for the second and third tasks tested in this research are in line with other Socitm performance monitoring and testing of online services. The results have been explained as evidence of poor software integration, which includes issues with the software itself, problems arising because of the way it has been specified in procurements, or the way software has been implemented by in-house teams.
The programme on 27th November will involve a discussion all of these issues and other findings from Socitm’s research.