An interview with Andrew, Online Service Delivery Manager.

Hi Andrew! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m Andrew, the Online Service Delivery (OSD) Manager in the Customer Experience team in the Place Services Directorate.

After gaining a BA honours degree in Politics and Local Government, I joined West Sussex County Council (WSCC) in 2008 as a Web Editor in the Communications team.

Within six months I was promoted to Senior Web Officer and became a founding member of a new team being created called Online Service Delivery within Customer Services.

OSD were a new centralised service to manage and develop the organisation's external customer-facing website and internal intranet - The Point.

My team along with 550 other individuals were outsourced to Capita between 2012-2022 and formed the West Sussex Capita Partnership. During this time, I was promoted to Manager and gained a work sponsored master’s degree in Leadership and Management and a Level 7 Diploma in the same subject.

I have continued my career back in WSCC since the Capita contract ended in 2022 and am now looking forward to supporting WSCC colleagues with their digital agenda.

What inspired you to become the Online Service Delivery Manager?

Being part of a team that genuinely improves the customer experience is very rewarding. We can, and do, make a positive difference to people’s lives. The County Council websites are the organisations ‘front window’ upon which many of our customers and staff rely on to access information and services.

The OSD Manager role enables you to work with highly skilled and innovative colleagues developing these websites and working on what can be complex problems. For example, making sure content is accessible to the widest possible audience and compliant with related legislation.

Why did you choose to work for WSCC?

The County Council is a fantastic employer who genuinely values their staff and well-being as well as career development. As I studied Politics and Local Government at University, it was an area of interest working in public service from a young age.

Fortunately, with my publishing experience gained from working in related private sector roles, I was successful in my application as a Web Editor which is where I started at WSCC. Since then, I have been fortunate in being promoted several times which has given me the opportunity of new challenges and learning new skills.

What is the best thing about being the Online Service Delivery (OSD) Manager at WSCC?

The best thing about being the OSD Manager is you have the opportunity to genuinely improve the customer experience on a daily basis. The content, the words we publish on the organisation’s websites matter. They make the difference between a user being able to find and access the information and service they need or having to call or visit the Council in person.

This latter option is not only much more expensive for the County Council but doesn’t meet customer expectations to self-serve online. Being the OSD Manager, you have the opportunity to help achieve the organisations digital agenda by continuously improving this online experience. It is the best thing about my role and helps motivate me doing what I do.

What do you particularly enjoy about working in the OSD team?

It’s all about teamwork. We have fantastically talented individuals in OSD, each with their own specialisms in managing digital content. For example, our Senior Digital Officer specialises in website analytics – reviewing how customers use the websites and using this data to make continuous improvements.

Our Content Designers specialise in reviewing and reworking what can be lengthy and complex content and skilfully sculpting this around a user need. This enables the customer to easily find and understand the content. Finally, we have a specialist in accessibility who ensures the content we produce meets the required legal standard. Combined, our team is bursting with talent and skill which makes it a joy as the team manager to help each individual thrive and develop their careers accordingly.

How does WSCC support you to develop and progress?

The County Council provides many opportunities to help you develop and progress your career. This is managed via a performance appraisal process where you can regularly discuss such opportunities with your manager.

There are also plenty of internal training events you can attend to develop your skills such as using MS Office products or time management or coaching / managing team members and so on. Therefore, in terms of career progression WSCC is a great place to work and has many diverse opportunities to develop and progress.

Is there a particular case or something about your work here that makes you feel proud?

During a programme designing and building a new WSCC website, my team were tasked with reviewing the 6,500 ‘old’ website pages and deciding what should be migrated across to the ‘new’ website. We innovated and created a 2-step process of reviewing the content only allowing genuinely up-to-date and relevant content to make it to the new website.

This process stripped out thousands of pages we considered redundant. There was nervousness at the time whether we had removed too much content in terms of inadvertently generating calls and face-to-face visits if customers couldn’t find the content they needed. As it turned out, the complete opposite happened. The new website went live with only 1,400 pages. Within a few weeks it was evident this change had been transformational.

The website was now much cleaner, leaner with content re-written around user needs (as opposed to organisational needs). Calls to our Customer Service Centre went down and visits to the website went up. This trend continued for some years and is something I am particularly proud of in terms of the difference we were able to achieve.

What would you say are the challenges of being the OSD Manager?

The County Council is a large democratic organisation. The wheels of democratic decision making can turn slowly, and this is something that can be challenging when working in a fast-paced digital part of the organisation where we need to rapidly respond to emerging opportunities and challenges.

However, if you work with the system and recognise from the start that, quite rightly, due diligence and committee style scrutiny is there to ensure decisions are correct and that taxpayers money is spent prudently, you understand the value being added in this process.

Yes, it does mean change and decisions are made at a pace that is different to my experience in the private sector. However, you are seeing the beauty and value of democracy in action. Indeed, I advise new starters to sit and watch County Council full chamber meetings during their inductions. This really helps in terms of understanding how the organisation's decisions are made and recognise the value working for a democratic institution.

What would you say to somebody considering joining us?

West Sussex County Council is a great place to work, so I would encourage anyone to join us. There are plenty of opportunities to build a long-term career, learning new skills and gaining qualifications along the way.

Work benefits such as flexible working, generous annual leave and pension entitlements are highly competitive and worthwhile. After you join there are also opportunities to develop your career in various teams.

The County Council is a large employer with a diverse portfolio of services so there is every opportunity to seek out new challenges and feel valued as a member of the team.