Posted by Dawn Aldwinckle on March 1st, 2011
Cheltenham Borough Council has been selected to host an ERP system that it will share with Cotswold District Council, Forest of Dean District Council and West Oxfordshire District Council.
“We were looking at particularly sharing services that could support our front line services, and this seemed like the obvious first step,” said Pat Pratley, senior responsible owner for the programme.
“We are particularly excited about the procurement possibilities, and what this could mean for savings by sharing procurement services,” she added.
Pratley told Computing that this is just the first step in developing shared services across the local councils.
“We are looking at broadening this and sharing professional services in the future. This would include such things as accountants and HR advisers,” she said.
Cheltenham was chosen as the “centre of excellence” to support and host the system, which is still being built. The plan is for the system to go live in October 2011, when services will merge between Cheltenham, Forest of Dean and West Oxfordshire. It will be extended to Cotswold District Council in April 2012.
“The application is going to be delivered to users mostly by a web client, but if they want capabilities for all services they will have to use a full client,” said Cheltenham council’s Rob Wood, project manager for the shared services agreement.
“All of these will be delivered over our network and systems. As a public organisation, we still have too many reservations about security in the cloud,” he added.
The project is expected to cost £1.4m in total, and deliver net savings of £2m over 10 years.
“We are generating these savings by rationalising our systems and staff cuts,” said Patley.
“However, we are avoiding redundancy costs by managing vacancies and temporary positions.”
Separately, it was revealed this week in Birmingham City Council’s latest budget report that the council is interested in developing a range of shared services with other organisations.
“There is a desire to integrate or share back-office and support services with other public bodies, and where possible, sectors,” Birmingham City Council said in its ‘Draft Council Business Plan 2011+‘.
“This shared services approach will be built on to create further efficiency. Plans are in place for expanding HR and payroll service sharing.”
According to the draft plan, the council also aims to reduce the cost of its ICT support structure by £185,000 in 2011/2012, and by £395,000 between 2012 and 2015.
No one at Birmingham City Council was available for comment .
Meanwhile, it was announced earlier in the week that three councils – Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea and Hammersmith & Fulham – are set to save £400,000 a year by rationalising ICT jobs as part of their ongoing shared services strategy.
More and more councils are facing significant pressure to cut costs following Chancellor George Osborne’s Comprehensive Spending Review in which he said that some councils would have to reduce spending by as much as 30 per cent.