Wiltshire Council, a high performing council in south-west England, in the United Kingdom, became a unitary local authority in the second quarter of 2009, when four district councils merged with the former county council. It employs 5,460 staff, who deliver public services to 466,000 people. After the merger, IT proved a significant challenge for the authority. The main issues were the inability of systems used by the five previous authorities to communicate with each other, different working practices, and the need for budget reductions.
The authority embarked on a Workplace Transformation Programme aimed at reducing its property costs, and, in turn, helping its staff to work more flexibly. To do this, they needed to improve IT support to the wider organisation, statutory partners, elected members, and customers. This involved guaranteeing ease of use by staff and councillors, ensuring maximum flexibility for where and how people work, standardisation of equipment and applications, and better security, including continued compliance with government standards.
The Workplace Transformation Programme aims to reduce the number of council buildings across Wiltshire, reducing the number of larger offices to four main hubs, while saving the council £85 million (U.S.$136 million) over 25 years. The transformation plans also recognise that a common IT system across the council is essential to realise the benefits of reorganisation.
In 2006, the former Wiltshire County Council outsourced its IT under a five-year contract due to expire in 2013. Faced with the large amount of IT change brought about by the flexible working aspects of the Workplace Transformation Programme, the council would have needed to re-tender the support contract to meet the needs of a much more mobile workforce. But this wasn’t possible within the timeframes, and, as a result, the council chose to move IT service delivery back to in-house provision for the first time in 17 years.
Moving to an in-house service by a specific date in the first quarter of 2011 proved a considerable challenge because many parts of the new support infrastructure had to be built from scratch. Glen Holmes, Head of ICT Design and Delivery, Wiltshire Council, says: "The issues we faced included operational monitoring, service desk processes, customer self service, and asset life-cycle management. Customer support was perhaps the most critical factor. Without processes in place for customers to address at least some of their own support needs, the in-house service desk could struggle to provide an adequate service."
The Wiltshire Council service desk was expected to log around 4,000 incidents, changes, and service requests a month, but initial demand has far exceeded this to total around 9,000 requests a month. Holmes says: "Once the service returned in-house, our technicians would be required to monitor around 500 servers and provide a self-service capability for 5,000 customers to log service requests, incidents, and password resets."