West Sussex County Council has embarked on a business transformation review as it seeks to become a customer focussed organisation that will use IT to deliver a range of services to the south coast council’s residents.

The fundamental service review programme has been brought about to tackle the impending shortfall in revenue available to the council and the increasing cost of providing services. “We have a £1 billion budget and get a £7 million government grant and no increase year-on-year because of a capped council tax,” explained Mark Hammond, chief executive of West Sussex County Council. “We have £30 to 40m worth of pressure a year. So we had to do something radical.” The first review discovered £50m in savings, this second review will look to transform the council into becoming a customer focussed organisation.

“We are a service industry, it is about people,” Hammond says. He said the review will analyse whether the council is responding to its customers [the residents of West Sussex] “wants and needs and doing as well as we could”.

The second phase of review will take another 18 months to two years and create the vision for becoming a customer driven organisation. “It’s a review of all our services and will ask us if we have looked at all the ways we source our services,” Hammond said. The authority wants its workforce to come to them with new ideas for revolutionising how services are delivered. He said the library service has already suggested some radical changes to how it can deliver books and information to residents of the council. Blue-sky thinking sessions will then look at the “boldest ideas and if they really work”, Hammond said. “We are being clear to our service areas; we expect them to bring in the ideas to be listened to.”

Specialist consultancy CapGemini has been selected by West Sussex County Council as a partner in the business transformation review. The review covers three core areas, transformation change, operational service improvements and IT. CapGemini will be the consultancy on all three areas. The tendering process allowed for all three areas to go to a different consultancy, but West Sussex decided that CapGemini suited all three areas.

West Sussex is a leading IT user in the public sector and has recently developed an IT architecture plan for the organisation. “It is the most important thing we have done. We never had one before; we never stood back and said this is the standard we want.” Hammond said they now have charts on the wall depicting the architecture for common systems for handling data and scheduling.

When CapGemini and West Sussex complete the review next spring, the authority goes into election mode for June, with the new authority selecting which parts of the review it wishes to implement.

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