There are so many major open source products available but the vast majority of councils continue to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on traditional services from the traditional companies like ‘Microsoft Office” as an example. We could be using Gmail/GSuite or other software and this is just one example.
Also to communicate we could be using combinations of WhatsApp, Facetime and Skype to name just some but generally don’t.
Internally many councils lock access down to websites and social media instead of embracing the opportunities it can give.
Cloud based services are still met with caution despite seemingly becoming the norm.
There seems to be a “can’t do because of xyz” attitude with local government behind the private sector who embrace technology. Why can’t it be the other way round?
I would like to explore how can we change this and utilise technology, not from an ‘IT department’ perspective but from a transformation perspective.
What are the opportunities? What are the savings? What will it take to change perceptions? How can we ‘Be Bold’ and do things differently. Is there appetite to change and if not why?
This is a discovery project. The funding will be used to either recruit or second a member of staff to allow them to really look into the reasoning behind it. It is not an everyday job and as such there is no role that has previously looked into this but something that requires thinking outside of the norm.
The project will aim to address the reasoning behind current thinking, challenge that thinking were possible and look at the alternatives.
It may be that there are specific reasons behind the way that local government does things and if this is the case they need to be demonstrated in a way that is easy to understand by all users. Far too often a technical barrier is put up that does not always align with common sense thinking.
The plan is the to ensure that the results are easy to understand by staff and users that don’t work in the IT sector but those that use tech in their everyday lives and then wonder ‘why can’t we do that at work!?’
The costs are really unknown. Whilst we could measure how much products such as Microsoft 365 could cost us, the aim of this project is really to find the barriers that stop us using larger, cloud based and often open source projects or free for enterprise software and work out ways on how we can. Not why we can’t.
Each council may have its own reasons, infrastructure and pressure but there will be synergies and wherever possible these will be explored.
So for example it may be a case that staff are prevented using their devices for communicating as GDPR issues are cited. This in turn means that authorities have to get separate devices which not only cost but from a users point of view are cumbersome and frustrating to carry around when they could just use their own (or vice versa)
As part of this project, the plan would be to approach others to find out what they are doing, how and why. What are there issues, what do they see as the pressures/challenges/opportunities? Also to approach private sector business and find out how they seem utilise the systems and reflect on their thoughts.
It may the be case that although they do use various open sources systems and communication tools, these may not work very well and they would be better off using the more traditional tools.
The results of the fact finding would useful to all councils and public sector who find it difficult to do anything different from the norm. It would show clear guidelines on what can and can’t be done, the reasons for it and the alternatives if they exist.
All three points will be addressed.
The savings and cost will be demonstrated from the findings. Included in the findings would be a comparison tool that would show for example:
If you were going to use system x instead of system y, this would cost £x per user as opposed to £y per user. The risk would be x. The benefit would be y. The risk would be z. The reason you could use it would be ab. The reason you can’t use it would be ba.
The report would show all work undertaken, methodology, links, research and full conclusions and learning points.
This will include but be limited to:
All forms of councils across the UK as well as in other countries specifically the US and Australia. This would include various departments throughout to cover the range of various issues that could cause blockages/opportunities such as Legal, IT, HR and Customer Service.
Central Government where appropriate.
Private sector organisations that use the software and this could include a range from large multi national companies to SME’s to get a good range.
Software companies themselves to understand the challenges that they face and there thoughts on how to tackle them.
Individual users to find out what could be done to make their lives easier and to work smarter.
It appears that the LDCU are further down the line than many local government organisations by simply using tools such as Slack and Google Docs. It would be useful to understand how some of the issues mentioned in the brief were addressed and signposting to other organisations who they believe could assist.
None. This is a discovery bid and therefore if no funding is allocated, would not be pursued.