Essex County Council is a local government authority that provides a vast range of essential services for one and a quarter million people throughout eastern England. It is also the county’s largest employer with an annual turnover in excess of £900 million.
In January 2007 IT chief Ben Darlington began the rollout of a knowledge management strategy for Essex with the aim of increasing employee and organisational productivity, increasing citizen satisfaction, integrating with partners, increasing revenues through direct and indirect channels and reducing operational costs.
The system is based on the same IBM KM technology as used in Surrey, Hampshire and Kent. In March 2007 Essex introduced a performance management system, Actuate Performancesoft Views, to gather and distribute corporate information.
Overall, Essex is looking to move away from bespoke systems with the steering committee on ICT at the council saying that “consistency in new technology should be introduced quickly”. This covered all areas and, with the council planning to expand its use of handheld devices by its staff, it said there were too many different types of handheld devices in use.
In common with other councils, Essex is moving many of its services online but it still operates a major call centre which takes around 15,000 calls per week. The contact centre underwent a review conducted by IBM following an outage early in 2006.