Socitm highlights software integration problems

Poor integration of third party software is ruining the user experience of some council website tasks, according to Socitm, the body representing public sector professionals.

Socitm said yesterday that it had conducted a number of “mystery shopping” excercises to social care pages on council websites, which had underlined the problem.

In response, it has called a one day event in London to discuss the issue in November.

A statement from Socitm said: “The issue is at the heart of the current discussions among local government IT and digital professionals about the potential benefits of greater sharing of commissioning and development of software to create better customer experiences online at lower cost to the taxpayer.”

During the mystery shopping exercise, Socitm tested the user experience on three different tasks:

  • applying for a blue badge for disabled parking;
  • finding equipment for the elderly;
  • finding respite care for carers.

The blue badge test was rated very good by 72% of all testers irrespective of the site tested.

However, the equipment for the elderly task was only rated by 12% of all testers as very good and the respite care test only rated by 8% as very good. 

Socitm said: “The poor results for the second and third tasks tested in this research are in line with other Socitm performance monitoring and testing of online services.

“In many cases, the poor results are due to the fact that third party software has been badly integrated.”

It said the problem can arise due to issues with the software itself, the way it has been specified in procurements, or the way it has been implemented by in-house teams.

The event, Use of third party software: addressing a major problem for council web teams will feature contributions from two suppliers, IDOX and Capita.

In two other sessions, the East Riding of Yorkshire will make a presentation on including council digital teams in procurement processes in order to ensure that software to be used by public on council websites is fit for purpose.

Herefordshire County Council will also present its vision of the future where suppliers offer web services and APIs, allowing council digital teams to readily consume and republish data from their systems.

Colin Marrs

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