Back Office Planning System (Discovery)


  1. Project outputs
  2. Project timeline
  3. Feedback

This discovery aimed to understand how a cross-authority solution, potentially providing back-end case management, transactional functions and a database, could unlock wider transformation of the planning system.

Planning services are dependent on proprietary solutions that are developing slowly and resistant to interoperability. The market is dominated by just two providers, and the software does not meet the aspirations set out in the Local Digital Declaration. Commercial incentives to support innovation are low and using poor quality software creates a number of challenges for the effective administration of the national planning system.

Project outputs

All Local Digital Fund discovery projects were asked to provide the following information at completion:

  • User research report
  • Benefits case
  • Recommendations for next steps

After feedback was given by the Local Digital team, the project team submitted a revised discovery report.


Alternative ways to view the outputs:

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Project timeline

April 2019 - discovery

‘User-centred back office planning system to unlock transformation’ discovery delivers project outputs which are published on the Local Digital website

February 2020 - alpha

Project team delivers agreed outputs from user-centred back office planning system alpha, published openly on the Local Digital website.


Each project was assessed using these lenses by the Local Digital Collaboration Unit. We have provided feedback directly to the project teams and this is a summary of what we shared with them.

It aims to be constructive for both the project team and any other organisation wishing to learn about the project or make use of the work done.

  • The project team undertook a lot of user research and produced personas grouped by job title. The project team should consider developing user needs driven personas with the addition of demographics and digital literacy as this may help make findings more usable.
  • The project team outlined measures of success within the project recommendations. The team should consider how they might gather relevant benchmarking data and build on these success measures as the project progresses.
  • The project team used a sketching session to consider next steps. Additional information about the methodology used in this session would make the recommended propositions clearer for readers.
  • The project produced in depth weeknotes and recordings about their work, making it easy to understand how the project progressed.
  • The project team undertook a LocalGov Digital service assessment. Service assessments provide a valuable opportunity for ‘check and challenge’ with peers.
  • Project scope was defined as a back-office system, so user research was conducted with council staff. The team should consider the impact of inefficient back-office systems on citizens, e.g. process visibility and notifications, or augment their user research with that of other projects focusing on citizen experience.
  • The team examined a number of options as part of their economic case. This might be useful for other councils considering this type of work.