Quarkside

16/03/2011

Shared Services says SOCITM Strategy

Filed under: Governance,Strategy — lenand @ 9:17 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Top marks to SOCITM for developing an open consultation on an ICT strategy for local government.  “Routemap for Local Public Services reform – enabled by ICT“.  As the President of SOCITM confirmed “We have never actually had a strategy and action plan for IT-enabled local public services, let alone one conceived for a citizen-driven public sector.”  So it is long overdue and should help beleagured ICT Managers (aka CIOs) to squeeze out more from less.

The five year Vision is straightforward:

  • “pan-local/pan-public-sector” ICT provision , encompassing strategy, architecture and commissioning, to drive efficiency and reform of public services, according to the needs and preferences of people in the diverse places that make up the UK.
  • ICT footprint in terms of people, technology, process and costs to be reduced substantially from today’s level.

The way to achieve it is through sharing, re-design and innovation.  Note that Sharing must come first to achieve the economies of scale and buying power.  Sharing is dependent on partnerships and there’s already been a lot of investment in how to form, implement and sustain multi-agency, information sharing partnerships.  The research and test projects revealed nine dimensions that have to considered for successful partnerships.

  • Business Scope
  • Governance
  • Legal Issues
  • Information sharing
  • Identity Management
  • Federation
  • Transactions, Events, Messages
  • Infrastructure
  • Sustainability

The SOCITM Strategy covers most of the dimensions, but there’s one glaring omission; Identity Management.  All shared service systems WILL FAIL if identity management methods are not applied to both staff and citizens.  Both need federating across the public sector infrastructure. Identity Management cannot be tagged on at the end of a project – look how ContactPoint suffered.

Within the Governance dimension lies funding.  Believe it or not, the inability of partners to agree a funding structure is the primary reason for the failure of partnerships.  The funding formula for shared services should be agreed on Day 1.  This a CEO and CFO role, not the responsibility of the CIO.

The benefit of drafts for consultation is that improvements can be made, and there are over 400 local authorities that can contribute their knowledge and experience.

 

 

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26/01/2011

Shared Services Swamp

There are fewer partnerships formed in the public sector than might be expected for maximum efficiency. Part of the problem is that partners have to start building partnerships from scratch. It is like a fresh learning exercise and many fail by missing some factors that are critical to success. People need to understand and document the risks from the very beginning.

It was a continuous thread in the latest Government ICT Conference (Jan 26th 2011).  Ample evidence from case studies from HMRC, DCMS, DCLG, Cabinet Office, Leeds, Kent and Herefordshire showed that different approaches can produce huge benefits.  But they all used ‘s’ word (standards with a small s).  We were informed that the Government is spending more time deprecating standards than publishing them. Improving outcomes is the target, interoperability is seen as key – and the Information Commissioner will not get in the way of data sharing.

Even though most agencies will accept technical infrastructure standards – they won’t co-operate on information governance standards.  There is no longer a central clearing house.  Organisations simply set up silo standards without consideration of how useful information might be in another silo.  Methods that would help, such as ISO 18876, are unknown or ignored.  ICT leadership, that is the Government CIO, should publish a Standards Policy.

A final example of head in the sand is that many years ago there was some research done on a standard for partnership formation.  At a cost of several million pounds from DCLG (ODPM), pilot projects completed and a simple Roadmap process was developed and tested. The findings are even more relevant today.  Look at this document to see how easy it should be.  It is only 4 pages long (plus appendices).  The executive summary is only half a page.

If all partners start singing from the the same, standard, hymn sheet – then progress towards efficient, sustainable, shared services could be much quicker.

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