With strategy development the process to develop the thinking is always more important than the end document - building ownership, ensuring consensus and building a clear work programme for delivery will mean the vision becomes a reality...
At Castlerigg we utilise a six-point checklist to assess ICT operations in local authorities which provides the strategic evaluation criteria for our assessment of an ICT service:
- 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
It is essential within any organisation for Information Governance to be seen as a strategic enabler in achieving internal and external service integration, rather than a constraint. What this means is that decisions on what information can be shared are not always taken in the context of the wider needs of the customer or indeed the council.
We provided a strategic evaluation of information and document management. As in all of our commissions, it was important for us to understand the council’s drivers for change and their organisational context to see the big picture and tailor our approach appropriately with this in mind. Throughout our commission we engaged with stakeholders and highlighted the importance of recognising the wider strategic need for information as an asset, rather than the immediate operational needs of a service. We highlighted the importance of a council-wide strategy to document management.
This procurement was designed to take the councils’ customer access and digital strategies and seek a solution which could mobilise their ambitions and enable wider changes to their operating models to modernise, improve service sustainability and strengthen their use of information.
The Agile Working Strategy defines a blueprint for change and the required capability each council needs in order to deliver its vision and objectives. This included:
- Strong enabling leadership which promotes an agile culture built on trust and productivity that supports new working patterns and empowerment of staff through access to better information and modern technology
- A HR framework that provides clear advice and guidance to all staff in terms of the practicalities of moving to new agile working practices and/or supporting existing agile workers with new technology
- Processes and information flows that are redesigned to support agile working and efficient service delivery
- All technology procurements should be driven by current and future information needs and with agility specified from the outset
- Agile workers should be measured on their results rather than their activity, perceived efforts or presence in a council building
- Information requirements and appropriate information sharing will sit at the heart of service design
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.
Castlerigg supported both councils to describe their desired ‘to be’ model (or blueprint) for an improved and efficient customer experience to inform the new digital access strategy. Improved technology is only one dimension requiring consideration when improving services. Although improved technology can often enable benefits in relation to an improved and more efficient customer experience, a ‘total system approach’ to designing the operating model for improved customer access to services should be taken to realise maximum benefits. Castlerigg supported the councils to articulate a ‘to be’ model which considered the following the elements:
- Information – What do the councils need to know about their customers in order to inform service direction, design and ensure quality? What information do the councils need to know in order to identify shortfalls in service provision and inform decision making as to where improvements can be made?
- Technology – How can technology support the councils to ensure that officers have ready access to the right information, about the right customer or service and at the right time? Also, how will technology allow the customer experience to be as efficient as possible in relation to the number of visits (electronically or by other means) required to provide information/make an enquiry and achieve service fulfilment
- Processes – what do the councils need to do differently in order to achieve customer excellence and make sure that any new technology is used in a way that maximises benefits?
- People – who in the council workforce is most suitable to respond to customer enquiries and at what stage in the customers’ journey should they become involved?
The information as an asset strategy defines a blueprint for change and the required capability each council needs to deliver its vision and objectives. This includes:
- A new information architecture
- A new 'fitness for purpose' technology assessment approach to be taken forward by their new ICT business relationship managers
- A new information governance approach aligned to its ambitions to drive service integration and liberate information
- Strong, enabling leadership from the Corporate Management Team to drive a new information culture and challenge the status quo in terms of quality, access, processing and requirements for information
It was identified that if the Customer Services Strategy was to genuinely drive delivery and indeed support the step change in service delivery required to bridge the funding gap that was predicted the council had to understand where it was today (baseline) against its Vision and Priorities and quantify and articulate what its services would look like once the strategy had been delivered. Castlerigg presented a decision making approach and recommendations which the council could use to support decision making on how the council could take its customer services strategy forward. Identifying areas of failure demand and exploiting opportunities to become more efficient
Having Castlerigg undertake this work allowed the council to realise the following benefits:
- Council Officer time could be invested in other areas of work, whilst Castlerigg progressed the commission
- Having access to Castlerigg’s knowledge from experience of working with a number of councils in relation to customer service redesign has allowed the council to incorporate this learning into the progression of the customer service strategy long after the commission had closed
- Skills and knowledge was transferred to council officers in relation to use and embedding of good project management methodology in the council
Castlerigg worked with the organisation to embed a new, intelligence led approach to corporate and community planning which would create an environment where change was aligned to the council’s priorities and there was a clear ‘blueprint’ for the new operating model for the council.
Castlerigg worked with the CYPS to translate their vision and objectives into a “blueprint” or desired future state. This was compared to a review of the service’s “as is” state and was followed by a gap analysis to determine what the programme of work needs to be in order to achieve the service’s “to be” blueprint.
Consultation with multiple stakeholders ensured that there was ownership and evidence of the business drivers for IM&T so that the final strategy could be meaningful, evidence led and grounded in costed work programmes to turn the vision of fit for purpose, interoperable and patient focused clinical systems into a reality.
Although there was no immediate appetite to develop a deep shared ICT service, Castlerigg articulated ways in which the organisations could collaborate to share requirements and best practise, jointly procure and make better use of resource and skill sets to meet need, which would ultimately enable deeper levels of sharing.
We also supported the developing of the overarching strategy - we believe passionately that strategies are only meaningful if they come with a detailed work programme to ensure the Vision becomes a Reality...it is also essential that strategies are facilitated, not dreamt up in isolation - involving key stakeholders who will be key to driving delivery and removing constraints.
We supported NHS Cumbria in translating an ambitious vision - to provide accurate, up to date and high quality clinical information at point of contact with patients - into a reality through the development of an evidence based, clinically owned informatics strategy. Key to this was ensuring that technology was merely the enabler to achieving clinical outcomes and avoiding technology becoming an 'end' in its own right.
The review identified the need to ensure that ICT Strategy is produced as a 'by product' of corporate planning - ensuring that all ICT activity supports clear, evidence based service outcomes and is owned by the wider organisation.
We facilitated two annual refreshes of South Lakeland District Council's corporate plan - the reason for our involvement was to ensure that there was a much more rigorous, evidence based approach to defining strategic priorities, robust performance management to track progress and a clear work programme which was integrated into service planning regimes within the council. We believe passionately that strategies need to be grounded in reality and any stated objective needs a clear programme of work to deliver it - with this commission we were given a golden opportunity to support this council in defining its vision right through to a detailed work programme to make it happen.
Developing an IM&T strategy requires the technology to take a back seat - to be meaningful the clinical and business needs of the Trust had to define the ICT requirements and so ensuring that technology was merely the enabler to achieve wider service outcomes. We took a clinically led approach, defining how technology could provide more timely access to information and improved information sharing could join up patient care across the Trust's sites and also with other health providers like primary care. The strategy had to be 'owned' by the Trust, not the ICT service, and we ensured that requirements were defined by lead clinicians and service transformation leads who needs technology to support their objectives in improving patient care. At Castlerigg we believe a strategy is only useful if it has a defined work programme which is costed and time bound with clear 'owners' for delivery - this we hope means strategies don't just stay at the bright idea stage!
With this commission we facilitated discussions with all partners to look at current working practices around capturing change of address. Our work included identifying the ways in which a project like this could support the wider strategic objectives of both district and county councils to join up services around customers to improve their experience and save both time and money.
In October 2010 NHS Cumbria working with Castlerigg undertook an exercise to have a fresh look at defining and developing an informatics strategy that was patient centric and clinically focused. This was to be enabled and delivered by deploying a programme of work that would see administrative systems replaced by clinical systems and support the sharing of clinical information across the health economy through an ambitious interoperability programme. Building on our belief that good strategies need meaningful action plans to be worthwhile Castlerigg also defined an associated implementation plan which fast tracked delivery of both fit for purpose clinical systems and the technology to support interoperability.
The starting point for this commission was to work with the locality commissioning team to evaluate the current systems that were deployed across the local health economy, establish a clear vision and roadmap for the delivery of interoperable clinical systems.
The evaluation identified:
- the need to support a number of GP practices with the move to modern systems
- the need to move existing primary care systems to a data streaming model
- the need to deploy a community services clinical and housekeeping system across all services including the 50 bed inpatient unit
- the need to deploy a clinical system to Primary Care Assessment Unit
- the need to establish supporting Information Governance and Information sharing agreements
- the need to establish a mobile working stream to support the role out of clinical systems to the community services
- the need to establish a clear communication plan