SOCITM (Society of Information Technology Management)
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Raft of pressures on local authorities has increased diversity of ICT-enabled service transformation approaches

The raft of pressures on local authorities - social, economic, technological and political - has increased the diversity of approaches to ICT-enabled service transformation.

This is opening up opportunities to do different things in different ways, according to Shifting sands: New structures and delivery models, a new Socitm report that sets out a series of case studies to illustrate its point.

The report reviews changing organisational forms, at local authority and ICT service level, drawing out current thinking about what public services and their supporting ICT functions should be, and how they might be delivered most effectively and economically. Examples of transformations that are complete or in progress are given.

Shifting Sands reports that Local ICT functions and the services they provide are becoming ‘platforms’ upon which place-based thinking and local services are developed. As central government devolution and health & social care policies play out, the intended role of local government is changing, with a growing emphasis on joining up organisations and the data/information they hold across localities.

The simple, straightforward in-house ICT model is fast becoming outdated, and local authorities are experimenting with various forms of ICT services trading companies, some spun out as semi- or fully-independent entities trading in the open marketplace, sometimes challenging the ethos of ‘for the public sector by the public sector’. Two examples are included in the report:

  • Delt Shared Services Ltd that provides ICT services to Plymouth City Council and the Devon Clinical Commissioning Group
  • Durham County Council’s ICT Services business

Meanwhile, technological change offers radically new, platform-based approaches to the operation of the ICT function – something completely different from previous conventions. Thinking around such models is developing as central government invests in this approach, with potentially significant consequences for local public service delivery. A series of case studies from local authorities actively exploring platform approaches are featured, including:

  • Essex County Council
  • Peterborough City Council
  • Aylesbury Vale District Council
  • Adur District Council and Worthing Borough Council
  • Tandridge District Council
  • The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead

Wider general trends, influences, and changes in thinking about ICT service provision, and the process of new technology adoption are also considered. These are likely to influence the future direction of travel of many ICT service providers in all sectors.

For ICT leaders, the report considers whether change is possible in a green field, brown field or complicated urban jungle-like environment.

It asks what the role of an ICT function is in relation to an organisation’s digital developments, and which strategic capabilities should be selected and developed concerning organisation, process design and value chains.  All this is in the context of a developing UK National Information Infrastructure, new initiatives in EU data protection regulation, and enhancing UK cyber security, data literacy and data science.

‘The ICT function stands on shifting sands, as major industry trends play out and service delivery models change’ says Dr Andy Hopkirk, Head of Research at Socitm. ‘Inside the ICT function itself, there are new ways of obtaining and organising ICT services and new ways of team working and liaising with those who commission and who consume ICT services: a potent and complicated mix. This report will help ICT leads clarify their thinking around some the options they face.’

Shifting sands: New structures and delivery models is a 34-page publication, available free of charge to Socitm Insight subscribers and accessible from the library of the Socitm Insight Group within the Knowledge Hub.

Further information

Vicky Sargent, Socitm Press Office

Tel: 07726 601 139 email:

Dr Andy Hopkirk, Head of Research at Socitm

Tel: 01604 709456 email:


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