IT Systems and Data Protection

08.05.18

The digital journey so far

Source: PSE April/May 2018

Michael Sage, digital services group manager at Chelmsford City Council, outlines the authority’s journey towards becoming digitally independent.

Back in 2016 we decided we had had enough of being tied into expensive contracts with the big suppliers and, with this, our inability to move agilely as an organisation. We took matters into our own hands in a programme of digital transformation that would leave the council as a master of its own destiny.

When this programme is complete, we intend to only be using our own internal staff to run, maintain and develop this new platform. We think this programme will take us five years to deliver completely, and we predict it will deliver us significant savings, both financially and in resource.

This is underpinned by an entirely new technology platform using the building blocks in two core products, Office 365 and Dynamics 365.

In May 2017, we started a realignment of our IT function to ensure we had a team that was able to deliver this new programme. We are proud that during this realignment we were able to attract some amazing talent into the organisation and continued to grow our existing talent with internal promotions.

We wanted to run this project as our own and not be stuck with a partner who didn’t “get us,” and to this end the project itself has attracted a number of industry-leading contractors who wanted to come and work with us. This has, in turn, inspired the team and led to better buy-in. 

With the wider council, we have massively increased the amount of information we give them, including a fortnightly newsletter and monthly “buzz days” which deep-dive some of the core components in an interactive way.

Office 365 is the first major strand of the project: it becomes the core IT offering and affects all the workforce and councillors. In the past year we have rolled out some of its core components and have started enabling the business to work where and whenever they want. This has allowed teams within the council to start trialling their own ideas, and a number of services have made their own mini solutions.

With the migration to Exchange online and OneDrive for Business complete, we have started the project to migrate our telephone system to Skype for Business and our shared file infrastructure to SharePoint. We are aiming to have the council fully migrated to the new platform by the end of the calendar year.  

CRM is the most complex part of the programme: it aims to take the council’s current back-office systems and migrate them to a single platform, giving a single view of the customer. The beginning of the year saw us build our own platform in Azure, but by the summer it was clear that we would be better on the hosted Dynamics 365 platform. This work was completed in the summer and the team started building our foundational capabilities. Microsoft upgraded the platform and we migrated to the new build with minimal effort, the permanent team really understanding how rapid the development and deployment is.

In the first year we only experienced one hiccup: one of our systems reached end of life during the year, and this became a distraction. We attempted to accelerate elements of the programme, but in the end this led us into a situation where we had wasted resource on focusing on an issue that we couldn’t resolve in the time we had. Once we successfully used our contingency plans, we took time to reflect and stabilise the foundation work we had already completed – ready for year two.

Top image © trevorbenbrook

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION
W: www.chelmsford.gov.uk

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

public sector executive tv

more videos >

latest public sector news

‘Bodies may be uncollected’: No-deal Brexit chaos could see council staff work from home for months

10/12/2018‘Bodies may be uncollected’: No-deal Brexit chaos could see council staff work from home for months

Bodies will remain uncollected and council staff may be forced to work from home for six months due to gridlocked roads in the event of a no-deal... more >
Major public services contractor seeking second rescue deal to avoid Carillion-style collapse

10/12/2018Major public services contractor seeking second rescue deal to avoid Carillion-style collapse

Interserve, one of the government’s largest outsourcing companies and provider of public services, has announced it is seeking a rescue dea... more >
Councils must set out rough sleeping strategies by 2019 or face government action, Brokenshire warns

10/12/2018Councils must set out rough sleeping strategies by 2019 or face government action, Brokenshire warns

All councils must publish detailed rough sleeping and homelessness strategies by winter 2019 or face government intervention if they fail to do s... more >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this... read more >

last word

The importance of openness after Grenfell

The importance of openness after Grenfell

Following the recent Grenfell Tower tragedy, Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA, argues that if the public are going to have faith in the safety testing process then everything must be out in the o... more > more last word articles >
‘Bodies may be uncollected’: No-deal Brexit chaos could see council staff work from home for months

10/12/2018‘Bodies may be uncollected’: No-deal Brexit chaos could see council staff work from home for months

Bodies will remain uncollected and council staff may be forced to work from home for six months due to gridlocked roads in the event of a no-deal Brexit, Kent County Council has warned. In a... more >
Major public services contractor seeking second rescue deal to avoid Carillion-style collapse

10/12/2018Major public services contractor seeking second rescue deal to avoid Carillion-style collapse

Interserve, one of the government’s largest outsourcing companies and provider of public services, has announced it is seeking a rescue deal as it struggles with £500m of debt and is ... more >

the raven's daily blog

Re-energising citizen engagement

10/12/2018Re-energising citizen engagement

Could smart cities and social media be the perfect match? Simon Dennis, director of artificial intelligence and analytics innovation at SAS UK, reports.  Politics is a divisive issue and not simply from a philosophical standpoint. Engagement levels are highly polarised across different sections of society. We could postulate man... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

comment

The digital buying community is live

12/11/2018The digital buying community is live

Many of the requirements from buyers posted on the Digital Marketplace were either non-compliant or poorly worded, which resulted in challenges f... more >
A force to be reckoned with

12/11/2018A force to be reckoned with

The South Bank plan, which refers to a number of investments and proposed activities across a massive plot of land south of the River Aire, is on... more >
Less for less: the risk of 'core offers'

12/11/2018Less for less: the risk of 'core offers'

As councils across England struggle with their finances in the face of massive cuts from central government, Simon Edwards, director of the Count... more >
A two-speed England

05/11/2018A two-speed England

Central government needs to change its approach to local transport planning and investment, including by consolidating funding and maximising dev... more >

interviews

New Dorset Councils CEO on the creation of a new unitary: ‘This is going to be the right decision for Dorset’

05/11/2018New Dorset Councils CEO on the creation of a new unitary: ‘This is going to be the right decision for Dorset’

The new chief executive of one of the new unitary authorities in Dorset has outlined his approach to culture and work with employees, arguing tha... more >
Keeping the momentum of the Northern Powerhouse

15/10/2018Keeping the momentum of the Northern Powerhouse

On 6 September, the biggest decision-makers of the north joined forces to celebrate and debate how to drive innovation and improvement through th... more >
Cllr Cutts on dealing with children’s services pressures: ‘I can’t magic money out of the air’

26/09/2018Cllr Cutts on dealing with children’s services pressures: ‘I can’t magic money out of the air’

The leader of Nottinghamshire County Council has outlined her priorities for dealing with soaring demand of children’s services and social ... more >
Nottinghamshire considers unitary shake-up proposals in a bid to balance books

05/09/2018Nottinghamshire considers unitary shake-up proposals in a bid to balance books

Nottinghamshire County Council is considering proposals to scrap its current two-tier structure for a new unitary system in order to save on... more >

public sector focus

View all News