I have been looking at what might afford the best chance of actually reducing costs to UK Local Authorities in that period of austerity we expect post-election. Some might even “have a go” pre-election if they can use existing IT Investments; therein lies my first idea:
Make most use of the systems you already own. Confirm covers ten “departments” but not one of our Customers uses it in all ten. Quite a few use it in 6, 7 or 8 and less than a handful use it in only one. So extending it to other departments might cost nothing and offer the chance to stop paying support on those other systems. It is quite high up on most IT Directors’ lists – reduce the total number of IT systems and if, like Confirm, there are great Corporate System Interfaces already in place, then hidden savings occur and need to be counted in reporting total savings! (2 for the price of one?)
My second idea is about the need to comply with Legislation and Code of Practice whilst meeting service standards (and sometime to help the avoidance of incorrect or spurious liability claims). In addition to meeting these requirements, Councils need to be sure that they can continue to meet ever-changing codes and laws. Looking for hard evidence of this capability, of standing mechanisms that will not go away and are supported by staff structures that are sustainable.
My third is all about data. Rubbish data is often the start point of a project to implement a new system, sometimes from disparate legacy systems and the cleansing and rationalisation of such data is essential…but who has the tools and the time. Horizontal systems and Council staff with the expertise to use then are as rare as Hens’ teeth so can the supplier come up with the goods, experts and desire? Look for evidence, see demos, ask reference sites. The capability is as valuable as Gold teeth, especially if it is coupled with mechanisms to deal with ongoing asset data that is refreshed at intervals and asset data that starts off incomplete.
My fourth idea is about user democracy: What mechanisms exsit to get user ideas for software enhancements into the software. A system will prevail over many years where user democracy is high more often than where it is “low to non-existent”.
The fifth idea is about software for mobile workers that maps onto their role and the data needs within the host system workflows. This is something that I have written about at length so I will not write more about it here save to say that Mobile hardware with a generic “something” (GIS or form based tool) is poor compared to specifically designed software that is Mobile Mapping enabled, capable of taking or showing linked photographs and files, that is GIS enabled, is tailored to the role requirement AND finally is linked to workflows/rules within the system that it is sending data to!
My next, the sixth, is about linking with Corporate systems, whether frontline or back-office. Links should be using industry standard methods and standards so that the supply-side cannot hold its customers to ransom now or at any point in the future. They should also add value by reducing cost, as well as paying their cost back within 18 months. (Interfaces can be expensive, so this is a great acid test!)
Finally, my seventh is all about Citizen portals that perform any of the tasks relevant. Citizens may have to report service requests, asset defects, incidents or they may wish to see how services are delivered or enquire after standards of service delivery achieved.
In my 20 years working with Confirm, if all seven are met or even if most are met, money is saved in huge amounts and from many aspects. The principles are sound and part of a successful project. There are other parts such as people management and “staff with talent”, but I am not so sure I can help there.