Questions raised over ability of ICT to deliver change

Capability gaps in councils’ ICT functions are preventing organisations from delivering service transformation, according to a majority of senior decision makers in local government.

A survey by supplier Eduserv found that three quarters of senior officials questioned the ability of their ICT departments to drive change.

However, it found that two thirds of authorities are now involving the ICT function in the early stages of strategic planning around business and digital transformation.

Andrew Hawkins, public sector director at Eduserv, said: “Whilst it is good news that the majority of councils understand the need for ICT to play a strategic role in business transformation and the delivery of services online, the capability gap identified by Eduserv’s research is a clear risk for any organisation which wants to succeed in its goals.”

The firm’s survey of 108 council ICT and business leaders found that 76% said a lack of investment in ICT is undermining the quality of current services, with77% saying that makes it harder for them to do their job.

The report said that CIOs need to address this perceived problem by backing any new investment in technology with better communication, more inter-team working and a well-planned approach to business change.

Commenting in the report, Jos Creese, interim digital lead for Hampshire County Council, said: “The real problem is that councils aren’t doing enough to reconfigure their whole mode of operation around a digital model, often choosing to apply ‘more or better’ IT to out of date and inefficient working practices”

“Much of this is because of the fear of the unknown and limited capacity to manage business change programmes.”

He added that councils need to get away from a model where ICT departments respond to piecemeal requests from different parts of the business “or where ICT is seen as the solution to business problems in its own right”.

John Jackson, CIO for London Borough of Camden, said: “You need to make people realise it’s not the amount that’s invested that’s going to count, it’s how you work together to meet real business needs and how you manage projects.

“You need to break down departmental or information silos; and make sure everyone is focused on and understands the citizen outcomes you are trying to achieve.”

More encouragingly, the survey found that 79% of senior decision makers now believe that the main focus for ICT is on improving services, rather than simply cutting costs.

Colin Marrs

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