A Strategic Review of ICT Service Delivery across both East Renfrewshire and Renfrewshire Councils

In January 2014 East Renfrewshire Council and Renfrewshire Councils commissioned Castlerigg Consulting to undertake two independent reviews of their respective ICT services.  A corporate director actively sponsored these commissions in each case. Whilst the reviews were undertaken in parallel there was an aspiration to share findings and seek opportunities to collaborate around the provision of a future model for ICT in each council.  The catalyst for both reviews was a recognition that each council’s strategic and operational requirements for ICT had changed. It became increasingly clear that the existing ICT service model in both councils was struggling to provide the right capability and capacity to meet each council’s current and future business requirements.  Both councils decided that it made sense to undertake a strategic review of their ICT service – stepping back from current service delivery to consider on the scope, purpose and role of ICT moving forward.

A strategic and business driven approach was adopted and the reviews were undertaken independently so that the findings were distinct and tailored to each councils’ needs.  The review involved a wide range of business stakeholders to both inform and shape understanding of current and future needs.  With both councils establishing new change programmes, and a recognition that ICT would be a key enabler of transformation in each case, there was a need to evaluate the current ICT operating model against these current and emerging business requirements and identify areas of improvement.  Castlerigg have a long track record in developing new models of service provision around ICT, working with both NHS and local authority clients, which we brought to this commission. 

What became clear was the councils needed ICT to become more of a trusted strategic advisor to shape the council’s wider transformation.  Future service would be characterised by:

  • Service Excellence: getting the basics right and providing reliable and stable customer service
  • Business Focus: helping the council achieve its current and future business outcomes
  • Effective Stakeholder Management: learning to influence key opinion formers and building trusted relationships
  • Technology Innovation: Exploiting current assets and embracing emerging trends
  • Enabling Transformation: Building a track record of supporting technology enabled change
  • Service Agility: The ability to be flexible and responsive to business needs

The review identified that there was no ‘do nothing’ option if ICT was to continue to be an effective corporate function.  ICT needed to strengthen its business liaison and transition to a new model of ICT which allowed it respond more quickly to changing business requirements and the introduction of new technologies.   A commoditised approach to ICT provision commissioned by a new ICT client function was agreed in both councils.  The new ICT client function would include new capability that was absent from the current model including:

  • Enterprise Architecture: to define the business and IT structure and processes within each council’s operating model.  The intention was to determine on an on-going basis how each council can most effectively orchestrate it business and technology operations to best address its current and future objectives. One of the principles was that business and technology processes are aligned, in this instance, to the delivery of council’s strategies and the move to new council target operating model.  Many of the business strategies around Customer, Agile Working, and Information as an Asset, and collaborative work around procurement and technical capabilities, will be operationalised through the new Enterprise Architecture capability
  • Business Relationship Management: Business Relationship Management describes the interface between ICT and its business consumers.  By building strong, trusted relationships with the wider business, ICT can understand, inform, challenge and transform their operations, thus enabling the wider strategic outcomes of the council
  • Commissioning Management: Commissioning will be a fundamental enabler of transforming the model of ICT delivery and the future management of a commoditised service. Commissioning will enable the council to specify, design and procure and manage the services that best meet its requirements within the resources available.  At the same time, the commissioning function will constantly monitor the council’s evolving ICT needs and assess whether the ICT market can meet them.  This may sometimes mean actively supporting the market in order that it can better forecast and respond to the council’s requirements
  • Strategic Procurement: Forecasted and planning procurement exercises, underpinned by robust business and technical requirements, will underpin on-going market testing, engagement and supplier management.   By taking a planned approach avoidable costs can be predicted and removed and the services can continually source solutions that meet their needs
  • Information Security & Governance:  Will support the wider ambitions of the council to value information as important asset and ensure information flows appropriately to support service delivery, underpinned by compliance with legislation and good governance
  • Programme and Project Management: Will ensure that all projects and programmes delivered by ICT are resourced by experienced personnel who are capable of delivering well organised change activities for the business

In time, as more services are likely to be sourced from 3rd parties, a service integration and management layer will be introduced to ensure that service delivery is seamless and of a high quality.

The review was approved in both councils and the adoption of this new transformation model agreed.

“A very appropriate name (British Stone Circle) for such an outstanding UK organisation with very strong programme, change and project management experience. Their customer focus, attention to detail and ability to develop lasting working relationships coupled with their ‘rolling up their sleeves’ attitude has helped my Council understand how projects and programmes should be run. James’s and Lorna’s drive and input will be apparent in many years to come – my Council and my ICT service will have benefitted greatly from their help and I now I feel ready to face the challenges ahead in supporting BAU and service redesign in very difficult financial circumstances.” 

Patrick Murray, Head of ICT, East Renfrewshire Council

Here's how…

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Project Management

This commission was managed as a PRINCE2 project within each council. It was important to have corporate sponsorship for this service review given the nature of the service and the need to align it to wider work to develop a new target operating model for the council. Trusted relationships were built with the Deputy Chief Executive in East Renfrewshire Council and The Director for Corporate Services within Renfrewshire Council as Project Executives and regular briefings, supported by highlight reporting were provided to identify opportunities and seek on-going direction and clarify the commitment to the review findings and recommendations at each stage.

We ensured that briefings were tailored, focused and had clear outcomes to maximise the Project Executives’ valuable time. By building these trusted relationships with the Project Executives it allowed us the access and gave us the ability to promptly raise and resolve any issues faced in delivery whilst maintaining the agreed timeline for the commission.

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Strategy

The review identified that ICT was expected to be a key enabler for the councils’ services as they moved into a significant period of change. The new requirements emerging from the councils’ change programmes would demand a different approach to the delivery of ICT and a refreshment of the ICT Strategy in both organisations.

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