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A new strategy which supports existing and planned shared services across both Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council  – aims to put in place a step change for both councils as they move towards more secure and cost effective IT and digital systems.

Building on the work both councils have been involved in or have been planning, over the past 12 months – Members of Cambridgeshire County Council’s General Purposes committee on July 16th are to consider investing £2.7m capital funding on improved infrastructure and systems over the next two years which will help staff collaborate more to benefit local residents. A further ongoing £200k revenue cost to keep the systems operational from then on, is also to be discussed.

Gillian Beasley became the shared Chief Executive of both councils in 2015 and a significant number of shared teams and front line services have been fully in place since 2017.     

The appointment of Sue Grace as the shared Director of Customer & Digital Services for both authorities in January, and Sam Smith as the IT lead across both councils more recently – means a new approach to the way the councils deal with IT and Digital services is now being proposed to support shared services and to progress the transformation of both councils – taking advantage of technological advances, and as part of continuous improvements to keep systems secure.

The strategy which Members will discuss, aims to deliver

  • IT which supports and enables secure, easy and robust sharing and collaboration.
  • Systems which allow for staff in converged services to be able to work effectively with their colleagues
  • Cost effectiveness, with a minimum of duplication of both equipment and licences.
  • Ultimately to improve effective and secure service delivery to citizens.

The two councils’ vision is for converged system based on a ‘cloud first’ strategy -  placing less reliance on physical storage and moving towards best practice in public service IT systems across the UK.

Areas of work that provide the biggest benefit are implemented first certain activity has been prioritised and grouped into phase one of the strategy, and the areas which need increased investment from Cambridgeshire are listed below:

  • Office 365 for Cambridgeshire - a more collaborative way for staff across both authorities to work and share general information
  • Shared web and digital platform, including a shared Customer Relationship Management system;
  • Software to support business intelligence to aid research and evaluation of council statistics to improve service planning.

It is anticipated that this activity will take 18 months to complete. During that time work will begin to look at what areas will be part of further phases.

The General Purpose committee papers can be viewed here.

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