26 May 2022

Guest blog: Data Innovation Delivers Unexpected Benefits

Guest blog by Richard Oakley, Director of Data Science & AI at Methods Analytics

Data innovation is essential in any modern organisation, encouraging and sustaining it culturally can be hard but the benefits can be profound. Harnessing the power of data already held by organisations and having the confidence to collect and use new data is only becoming more important as more and more services have digital elements. Supporting data innovation within organisations means you have to include it within your data strategy and transformation plans which is precisely what Methods Analytics were asked to do with Swindon Borough Council.

The Challenge

The council were developing a Data Strategy to identify the data management and business intelligence capabilities required to run effective services, and to deliver their strategic plans, priorities and pledges. To enable the development of the data strategy, Methods Analytics undertook a data discovery. Swindon needed to identify which areas to target to transform their use of data: this included reviewing their operating model, technical architecture, governance structures, roles and projects. Methods Analytics worked with them to produce a business case to develop the council’s data capability and deliver its Data Strategy.

The challenge at Swindon was to be able to articulate the art of the possible and support. Outside of Swindon’s data team, there was little understanding of the benefits that could be achieved through a modernised data architecture, investment in data management, and addressing long-standing data quality issues.

The Solution

Methods Analytics worked collaboratively with SBC’s internal discovery group. They provided organisational context, expertise, and validated our findings and deliverables. The process followed involved:

  • Mobilisation - Initial planning, sign-off of PID, engagement with key stakeholders, and dissemination of data discovery survey
  • Discovery - Discovery workshops for each service are complete and initial findings shared. ‘As-is’ architecture and BI capability assessment drafted and full list of issues and opportunities shared
  • Analysis & Design - Complete Opportunity, Capability & Resource Matrix, and ‘To-Be’ technical architecture. First draft of final project outputs
  • Finalisation & Playback - Completion and submission of final project outputs; Target Operating Model, Delivery Roadmap, backlog of projects, and Business Case


  • Identified over 170 opportunities to improve organisational data management, these were distilled into five tangible, achievable projects to demonstrate the efficacy of using data for the benefit of citizens.
  • Continuing work as a strategic change partner to deliver the projects outlined in the business case and mature Swindon’s data capabilities.
  • Streamlined the data operating model to build an environment with greater governance and openness around data.
  • Identified skills gaps in the organisation and begun work upskilling staff on the future technologies

The goals we achieved

  • Highlighted and planned five priority projects for improved data management, based on achievability, impact, strategic alignment and cost. These include:
    • HWRC reporting – visualise and report on appointment data for the automated HWRC entry system (prior work nominated for innovation award)
    • Rough Sleeping and Illegal Encampments – end-to-end data lifecycle transformation for opportunity, focusing on collection, storage, reporting and sharing.
    • School Admissions – Migrating reports from legacy Crystal system to a modern, cloud based approach
    • Transitions – Building a process to automatically flag children who become eligible for Adult Social Care funding
    • Supporting Families – Building a multi-dimensional view of a family to streamline care provision by the relevant agencies.
  • Defined the future state architecture and operating model to deliver the data strategy.

As shown in our work there, supporting data innovation enables unexpected benefits and improvements to be brought out and generates real value in citizen-focused services.

Richard Oakley, Director of Data Science & AI at Methods Analytics

 Local Public Services Innovation: Creating a catalyst for change



techUK, in collaboration with its Local Public Services Committee, has published a new report making the case for enhanced digital innovation adoption across the UK’s local public services to improve citizens’ lives. The report, ‘Local Public Services Innovation: Creating a catalyst for change



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