STOCKTON-ON-TEES BOROUGH COUNCIL
INFORMATION & COMMUNICATION
2007 – 2010
Rev 2.0 (Updated Jan 09)
The one thing constant in local government is change. Councils have seen huge
changes to the services they provide over the last few years and this is set to
continue. Stockton Council is no different. Examples are:
Increased demand due to an increasing and changing population
Delivering on children and adult agendas
Delivering against national efficiency targets
Delivery against internal MTFP efficiency targets
Providing easier access to our services
Providing more flexible and timely services
Increased partnership working
The above all have the potential for increased costs, yet the Council has a target of
low Council Tax increases and faces a difficult period in relation to the funding which
is provided by central government.
The Council is also has an excellent four star CPA rating which it seeks to maintain,
building upon its culture of continuous improvement. There is a constant expectation
that the Council will deliver more. It continually looks for new ways of delivering
services and has a history of partnership working which under the Government
Integrated Services agenda will expand even more.
In summary, the Council wishes to remain a high performing Council.
To deliver what are challenging change programmes and maintain its excellent
status, it is paramount that the Council maximises the use of its resources.
Information & Communication Technology (ICT) is one of these key resources.
ICT is integral to most successful organisations today and over recent years has
become increasingly important to the delivery of Council services. In this technology
age, our citizens, partners and our internal colleagues and Elected Members have
increasing demands for more responsive, flexible and timely service delivery.
To date, the Council has made investments in ICT but based more on a tactical basis
rather than strategic approach. This has been successful and achieved the
Government’s E-Government targets as well as our own Public Service Agreement
stretched e-service delivery targets. ICT’s work on Information Security Management
and its ISO certification is a leading light nationally, it has also performed well in
national benchmarking exercises.
Beyond this, in the main, ICT investments have been made on a departmental silo
basis, as services promoted their own agendas. Although successful in
implementation, this approach has delivered a large programme of predominantly
service based ICT projects.
The ICT Service itself has been generally viewed as a utility based service which
itself has progressed strongly over the last few years. However, the development of
technology is so integral to the organisation it is now time to ensure that a more
robust strategic approach to ICT is utilised to drive through and deliver the changes
The purpose of an ICT Strategy is to give a focus and framework for future ICT
investments and projects, linking these into the priorities of the Council Plan in
support of the Community Strategy (see figure 1). The aim of this ICT Strategy is to
raise the profile and awareness of the importance of ICT investments and the
governance which surrounds these and associated benefits realisation. It is also to
provide an effective technology architecture which not only provides robust and
reliable underpinning to Council services but is an architecture which acts as an
enabler and catalyst for service delivery both within the Council and across our
Council Other Strategic
Figure 1: Strategic planning framework
The development of the original elements of this ICT Strategy was undertaken in
conjunction with NCC Group Ltd. Desktop research was undertaken about the
Council and its plans. A consultative approach was then undertaken with key
stakeholders, these being CMT and all Service Group Management Teams.
Individual meetings were also held with the Corporate Directors and Chief Executive.
These sessions were aimed at gaining a wider understanding of service
requirements and current practice, and providing a challenge to current views and
processes. As well as a framework for the development of the strategy, NCC brought
both public and private sector market intelligence and best practice to the process.
Ultimately through this framework a vision was extracted and developed, identifying
actions for both ICT and the wider governance in which it operates. Through
facilitation and information sharing with all Service Groups, the ICT Strategy has
been developed from the requirements of the Service Improvement Plans, Business
Unit Plans and the Council Plan which these ultimately support.
The culmination of this approach was a presentation of findings and proposals to the
Extended Management Team (CMT and SGMTs combined). These were endorsed
by the Extended Management Team.
The original ICT strategy was then submitted and approved by Cabinet on 27th
It was said at the start of this document that change is inevitable within Local
Government. It is therefore essential that the ICT strategy will be able to evolve to
reflect the changing priorities and demands of the Council and its partners.
It was proposed and agreed at the December 2008 meeting of the ICT Strategy
Group, that the strategy document would be updated periodically to reflect the latest
position. It would then be submitted for approval by the ICT Strategy Group. This was
in preference to retaining the original strategy and providing separate update papers
at regular intervals.
This document is therefore the revised ICT Strategy based upon input from both ICT
Services and the ICT Strategy Group members and the Service Groups they
2. Current Position
The pressures affecting local government are outlined in the introduction of this
report. There are also many ICT related issues and pressures. These include:
Central government is forcing local authorities to meet a complex change
agenda which has serious implications in relation to information management
and integration, but in the absence of this the Council would itself also be
driving such changes forward
Process boundaries are changing as a consequence of the government’s
partnership agenda and national platforms and there is a need to deliver
integrated services across the Council’s service portfolio and beyond e.g.
Every Child Matters
The Council is under considerable pressure to continue to deliver high-quality
services at a reduced cost
Sustaining the current excellent four star CPA rating in relation to
improvement will be difficult to achieve without innovative use of technology
The Council generally operates its ICT as a series of silos with opportunities
for more active co-operation between service groups; ICT investments have
been focused on cost rather than value and have been tactical in nature
Much senior management time is spent on dealing with external change and
yet there is little recognition of the potential contribution of ICT to overcoming
the challenges faced
The Council is anxious to improve its services and it recognises that new
investment ICT can play a major part in delivering these improvements.
Without an integrated technology platform, there are significant implications of the
above pressures on ICT systems and services. These are:
The complexity of the ICT infrastructure and the amount of effort required to
change will increase exponentially
The operational effect of reconfiguring services in the absence of the ability to
integrate rapidly will result in degradation of core services
That investment at a corporate level is required in the appropriate
infrastructure technologies if technology enabled process change is to reduce
costs and improve efficiency
The improvement in an already efficient Council will require transformation
rather than incremental change to sustain high CPA ratings in the future
That the complexity of the technology infrastructure will continue to increase,
unless service groups act more corporately in relation to ICT and the Council
is able to introduce mature ICT governance processes
The research process undertaken in the development of the strategy has identified
strengths and changes required for the future. These are outlined in the table below.
Service Dimension Strengths Today Challenges For The Future
Value Very good value for money Raising ICT from a “utility”
service provision service seen primarily as a
cost into one which adds
significant business value.
Day to Day Service Very good day to day service Obtaining the necessary
Provision provision funding and ensure that
capacity is in place to deliver
the breadth of required
Delivery No strong centralised or Project and programme
collective control of projects delivery perceived as not yet
delivering fully on
expectations. Making sure
that business change and
ICT enablers are joined up.
Architecture An undocumented Ensuring that the new
architecture which can evolve architecture is deployed
into a strong strategic when there are short-term
framework tactical decisions to be
made. Anticipating the need
to switch from legacy
platforms to avoid being
forced into taking a tactical
decision on platform
ICT Governance An emerging ICT Strategy Addressing the key
Group drawn from across the governance weaknesses
Council which include:
- Giving greater clarity of how
ICT decisions are made
- Obtaining a closer fit
between the Council’s
strategy and its ICT Strategy
- Linking ICT governance
more strongly into corporate
- Linking ICT governance into
local and regional bodies.
Figure 2: Perceived views of ICT
The Council does however need to adopt a more strategic position in relation to ICT
if it is to meet its future requirements and have the capability to rapidly re-configure
service delivery. Some work has already commenced in this regard.
3. Target Future Position
The strategy development process identified the potential benefits offered by modern
ICT. These include:
A mobile and flexible workforce, made possible through new technologies
Real-time access to information in key service areas such as Social Care and
The ability to rapidly re-configure services according to demand
Better asset management including making better use of buildings
Demonstrating improvement and potential to external bodies such as the
Enhanced ability to work with multi-agency partners external to the Council
Improving citizen satisfaction
Being seen as an attractive employer able to recruit and retain staff
To obtain these benefits the Council needs to invest in three specific areas:
Secure remote and mobile working technologies at network and client levels
Sound and scalable technical ICT; designed to deliver integration
Robust information management and workflow across the Council and with
The above investments must be made in the context of a strategic architecture based
on components which will deliver technical integration as standard and be
configurable and able to undertake the functions required from service specific
The strategy development process also considered scenarios in relation to strategic
architecture. These were:
To continue with a strategy of “no strategy” as in place at present and
evidenced by the current applications portfolio.
The adoption of a strong strategic architecture framework based on the
selection of key infrastructure applications and investments such as
enterprise content management, graphical information & spatial analysis,
customer relationship management, workflow, integration toolsets and
The strategy of “no strategy” i.e. continuation of the present position, was rejected for
the reasons already outlined earlier in this report. It was agreed that the strong
strategic architecture framework is an aspiration that will start with the formal
adoption of an intermediate strategic framework based on a consolidation of current
applications and investments.
4. Strategy Delivery
To deliver the strategy a change programme needs to be introduced which will
require corporate backing if it is to succeed. The key areas are:
ICT Service Restructure
Business Change Programme
All four areas are intrinsically linked and all are required for the strategy to succeed.
An outline of these areas is given below and the latest developments in each are
4.1 ICT Service Restructure
The proposals for the Stockton Darlington Partnership include an ICT Service
restructure. This places renewed focus on three main areas:
Strategy, architecture design & process excellence
Technical robustness & efficiency
Combined, these allow ICT to develop beyond the utility and provide a service
portfolio which has the capacity to deliver the ICT Strategy.
Xentrall Shared Services was established officially on 2nd May 2007.
Following the recruitment phase and identification of suitable accommodation,
the implementation of the new structure for ICT Services effectively began
from the point of co-location during August 2008.
The proposals for the Partnership identified a two year transition period for
ICT services, to turn around the previously identified utility service to one
providing strategic value to the Council; its citizens and business partners.
The strategy will be regularly reviewed and refreshed on an annual basis and
in line with corporate and individual service group service plans. All key
projects identified within this strategy, will be managed and reviewed on a
monthly basis in accordance with the revised programme and project
management procedures currently being drafted by the service in conjunction
with colleagues from both Councils. Regular reports will be presented to the
ICT Strategy Group, outlining the progress made on each.
The current technology architecture will be reviewed and a business case
developed to virtualise and/or consolidate the number of servers in use
across both Stockton and Darlington Councils. This will make server support
more manageable, and also reduce the power usage, reduce heat output and
therefore the burden on air-conditioning, and reduce the requirement for
space. Consolidation will also optimise the processing power and storage
capacity well in excess of what is currently achievable. Other benefits will
include improved backup and disaster recovery capabilities, and for the
future, improved integration across systems.
The network is a key component of the infrastructure design, and this is due
to be reviewed in the next 12 months. Opportunities arise from a joint
infrastructure with Darlington and this will be considered as part of the review.
The new shared computer room is also to be developed with the possibility for
using the existing Stockton site in a smaller refurbished form, to provide
As staff from both authorities take on their new roles and responsibilities, it is
necessary to review and consolidate the skills required and if necessary re-
skill staff, enabling them to continue supporting the existing technologies, as
well as preparing them for the support of any new technology as this is
identified and implemented. A full review of skills and training needs has
been completed for the support of current technologies within both councils,
and additional skills identified for short term requirements. As the
infrastructure review is completed, training may also be consolidated as new
or additional skills are identified and training organised as appropriate.
The ICT service has not only achieved re-certification against the
International Standard of ISO27001:2005 Information Security, for Stockton
Council ICT, but has also achieved the certification for the combined ICT
service for the new partnership, and now continues in conjunction with the
service areas, with its pursuit of the international standard for Business
Continuity. Each council can therefore be assured that ICT services are
following good practice in the protection of its data and information and
helping the business service areas to do the same.
The assessment of best practice service delivery standards is also underway,
and identification of priority areas for service improvement has begun. There
is a lot to do, but certification for other best practice standards will follow, as
the ICT services areas concentrate on the improvements required to allow
them to become customer focussed, as well as achieving a highly efficient
and responsive service.
Business Account Managers will develop their relationships with service
management teams, and the Business Analysts provide advice and support
for services looking for new or enhanced technological solutions to their
business needs. Together with the Service Desk the Business Account
Managers are the main points of contact for support and development of ICT
services. It is from their discussions with Service Management Teams, and
the research of the Technology Architect, that the Strategy Officer will be
guided in the ongoing development of the ICT Strategy for the Council.
Regular feedback from annual Customer Satisfaction Surveys will also play
an important part in the development of best practice service delivery. The
development of a comprehensive set of performance targets is key to
monitoring service delivery, and external benchmarking will be developed
further so the service will be able to continually re-assess the value of its
service against externally rated measures.
Technical Robustness & Efficiency
In addition to the review of servers, there will also be a review of the current
printer/scanner/photocopier and fax technology in use within the Council.
Although there will never be a one-size-fits-all solution, it should be possible
to rationalise these devices and so achieve efficiencies in capital costs and
ongoing support. The large numbers of devices and the various makes and
models, make support expensive and time-consuming, and many offices can
easily accommodate the use of multi function devices, which provide a wide
range of capabilities; many have colour facilities, and security functions for
added confidentiality where needed.
Linked to the development of business improvements, there will also be a
review of desktop devices, with the possibility of introducing virtualised or thin
client devices of varying shapes and sizes for end users. This provides the
services with more flexibility in when and where the devices may be used,
e.g. home, office, on the move, and also greatly improves the opportunities to
improve the efficiency of the support available, e.g. providing remote support
opportunities for fault detection and correction, increased levels of security
and compliance with information governance legislation.
A review of the procurement, configuration and deployment of PCs and
laptops will be undertaken to ensure that the most efficient and flexible
approach is taken. Efficiencies and improvements in service may also be
available from a joint procurement approach with Darlington Borough Council.
Consolidation/virtualisation of servers and desktop equipment also provides
opportunities for reducing the costs of licenses and therefore increasing the
opportunities for services to role out technology on a much wider scale than
hitherto within existing budgets.
Systems integration/mobile working toolkit.
o A business case will be developed for the procurement of a set of
software tools which with current technology already owned by both
Stockton and Darlington Council can help facilitate the exchange of
data from back office systems to remote devices out in the field.
o Off the shelf packages can often be expensive and limited in
application. The tools may also be used to assist with the exchange
of data between systems where in-house rather than off the shelf
solutions is the most cost-effective option.
o It is proposed that the tools should also include data matching
software, not just for one off data matches, but regular data
synchronisation as required. As systems need to exchange data in
order to meet increasingly complex needs, it will become essential
that these data sets are kept up to date, e.g. change of address
matches from Council Tax against citizen records on the Customer
Relationship Management system.
Workflow & EDRMS
o The critical element of any agile workforce, innovative service or
mobile delivery point is having access to all the relevant information to
deliver a service and make informed decisions. This information has
to be timely, relevant, accurate, secure, and legal.
o Most of the council’s services rely on paper documentation for the
gathering, storage and analysis of data. Even when these are stored
in electronic format, they are often held on central servers or personal
computers and remain inaccessible when the service staff is out in the
field. Sharing data with other services is often manual in nature, and
duplication of effort is not uncommon. Some information systems
used have information and workflow technologies built into them, but
these tend to be limited and specific to a service area, and do not
facilitate the sharing of data across an organisation or between
services in a consistent and controlled manner.
o Some document management systems also provide creation and
collaboration tools, and provide automated retention and destruction
facilities, which when dealing with a large number of documents under
frequent revision, is a considerable saving in time and effort, and
ensures that the council will always comply with data protection and
freedom of information legislation.
o The corporate Information Governance Group have been developing a
Corporate Information Governance Strategy and by the end of March
2009, a business case will be developed for the procurement of a
corporate Electronic Document and Records Management system
(EDRMS). This will provide facilities for the creating a central
repository of all records and documents produced by the various
services within the Council, which will be accessible, in a secure
manner, to any persons who have authorised access to view them.
o Many of these systems also include a workflow facility. Certain
documents may have specific activities associated with them. These
activities can happen in sequence or in parallel, and may be
automated or need manual intervention from one or several people.
The workflow can be configured as required for each document, so
that it is dealt with every time in a consistent and controlled manner,
and because it can handle parallel activities, can often significantly
reduce processing time, while highlighting any bottlenecks that occur.
o Even if the current operational system has inbuilt facilities for
document management and workflow, a corporate solution would
simply sit on top of these and provide a repository and
document/record sharing facility across council services, or partner
o Although documents have been specifically mentioned above, this
term may equally be applied to emails coming into the Council. These
are legally accepted documents, for the purposes of evidence
provision, and should therefore be captured in an EDRMS and stored
along with all other relevant documents within a record. Workflow
could just as easily be applied to them.
4.2 ICT Governance
There needs to be an adoption of a set of strategic principles which will form the
basis of the Council’s ICT governance framework. These will be developed around
the following points:
There will be collectively funded long-term irreversible investments in
technology, people and business change
Activities will be properly resourced and pursued aggressively to realise the
anticipated value and benefits
There will be a mandatory requirement to comply with agreed technical
standards and architecture
There will be a mandatory requirement to comply with agreed governance
There will be single instances of shared applications and tools which utilise
The Council will undertake the gradual replacement of existing applications,
where possible, by the new infrastructure components for workflow, content
management and mobility
Since the original strategy was published a number of areas have been progressing
Although considerably increased as a result of the new partnership, the
resource within ICT is finite and must be shared with Darlington Council. A
robust governance framework is therefore required to ensure that this key
resource is targeted in the right areas and in line with each of the Council’s
priorities. The framework must also ensure that the resources are managed
appropriately and the benefits realised by both Councils.
At a joint meeting early 2008, the ICT Strategy Groups in both Councils met
for the first time to discuss and develop a common understanding of
governance. In support of this framework, the lines of communication
between ICT and the service groups are being refined as the Business
Account Managers develop their relationships with each of the service
management teams, ensuring that the means of accessing ICT services is
clear and transparent, but overall control of technology development remains
with the respective management teams who are able to determine the
priorities for their service groups.
In the event of conflicting demands, the new Governance framework also
places a greater emphasis on the role of the Strategic Groups in both
Councils as they will act as the “gatekeeper” of the ICT work programme and
have an active role in deciding on the priorities of projects and the assignment
The current 2008/9 work programme however, is still a hybrid of what has
been inherited from Stockton and Darlington Councils, as well as new
requirements which have emerged more recently. Similarly, the customer and
strategy roles within the new ICT service have yet to get fully up to speed.
Therefore although the governance model as described is beginning to be
deployed in the current planning round, it is anticipated that this won’t be fully
operational until the 2009/10 cycle begins in preparation for 2010/11 plans.
4.3 ICT Investment
In developing the ICT Strategy, an estimate has been made of the additional
investment required for mobility and workflow technologies in ICT over and above the
investments in underlying infrastructure already factored into the Stockton Darlington
Partnership (some of which are precursors to this strategy).
The table below gives an indication of the investments.
Up Front Recurring
a 10 Year
£ 350k £ 50k £ 850k
Integration £150k 30K £ 450K
£ 1m £ 330k £ 4.3m
Home Working £ 500k £ 500k £ 5.5m
£ 400k £ 80k £ 1.2m
Figure 3: Strategic ICT investments
Some of these costs are anticipated as cash neutral in that they displace existing
costs within services. This applies to:
Client Technologies – the purchase of mobile IT devices instead of a standard
Home Working - equipping staff with home working equipment rather than
The remaining three areas of mobility, systems integration and workflow technologies
are new costs to the Council.
Workflow technology can be seen as a capital investment as it will be a
Council-wide application used by all services and therefore requires being
purchased up-front for the benefit of all.
Mobility technologies relate to the cost of equipping and connecting each end
user. As this is on a per-user basis, this could be viewed either as a pay-per-
user cost born by the services themselves, or funded corporately through
capital and revenue provision.
A systems integration toolkit should be viewed as a capital investment similar
to the workflow investment as all areas of the Council can potentially benefit
from this. Combined with Mobility technologies this will ultimately benefit all
areas of the Council as information processing between systems &
applications are improved.
Of course there may be some opportunity to reduce and share costs with Darlington
who have very similar requirements to those of Stockton. A major advantage of the
Xentrall Partnership is that Stockton and Darlington are able to pool resources and
seek to gain economies of scale whilst and at the same time reduce ongoing support
and maintenance costs by sharing infrastructure, applications and tools wherever
possible. Those areas above requiring investment will be subject to individual
4.4 Business Change
The third critical step in delivering the ICT Strategy is the creation of a business
change programme which will exploit the Council’s new infrastructure components. It
is this programme which will significantly assist in the Council maximising the use of
resources in its aim to deliver continuous improvement whilst making efficiencies.
The exploitation of the new technologies mentioned within this strategy, will allow
Xentrall ICT to deliver its own business change programme, enabling it to be flexible,
efficient and more customer focussed.
The business change programme will involve fundamental reviews of service delivery
across the Council with the aim of exploiting the investments in ICT to maximise
service efficiencies and delivery. This business change programme and the
associated technology investments delivered through the strategy will also
compliment the review of accommodation and flexible working methods; “Workwise”.
Xentrall ICT Services are represented on the Board for the “Workwise” programme
and will be fully committed to the provision of advice and guidance on aspects of
The council has committed itself to an ambitious change programme which will
require all the above technologies mentioned in this strategy in order to be
The Council has now established an Efficiency, Improvement and Transformation
(EIT) Programme which will initially run from 2009 until 2012. The aim of this
programme is to review every area of the Council and challenge the way it provides
it’s services. As well as the challenge element, there may be activities such as the
procurement / commissioning /de-commissioning of services or areas where
business process re-engineering may be required. All of these activities are likely to
be influenced by ICT. ICT should be viewed as a strategic enabler for delivering
transformation of Services and therefore opportunities for improving efficiency by
exploiting ICT should considered in every service area to be reviewed. The role of
the Business Account Manager and the ICT Strategic Services staff within Xentrall
will be expected to play a major role in this major change programme.
The timetable associated with these actions dovetails with the proposals for the
Stockton Darlington Partnership, which has identified a two year transition period for
As well as restructuring the service to provide a more robust strategic and customer
focussed role, during the transition period research and development of a business
case for a new ICT architecture will be undertaken and it is this which is required to
underpin the ICT Strategy. Alongside this, work will be undertaken in developing
detailed business cases for the investments required to deliver the ICT Strategy i.e.
mobility, systems integration and workflow. Once these have funding approved, this
transition period also encompasses the purchase and implementation of these
It is from this point that a programme of business transformation projects will be
rolled out across the Council on a service by service basis. These will either be under
the umbrella of the EIT programme or more discrete ICT related reviews.
Figure 4 shows the modified timetable as defined in the Strategy. The shaded areas
are now underway, with the remainder yet to start. In addition, some new activities
have now been added to the timetable, which include a review of the strategy and
implementation of the governance arrangements. The timetable associated with the
ICT Strategy compliments with the developments relating to both Workwise and EIT
programmes. Likewise, all initiatives are feeding into the MTFP process.
2008/9 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12
ICT Partnership Transition Partnership Mainstream >>>
Research & Procurement &
Business Case Implementation
Workflow & Procurement &
ICT Strategy ICT Strategy ICT Strategy ICT Strategy
Update Update Refresh Update
ICT Governance Implementation
SBC Accommodation & Flexible Working Programme (Workwise)
Efficiency, Improvement and Transformation Programme
Figure 4 - Stockton Darlington Partnership and SBC ICT Strategy Timetable -