Manchester is the North West’s regional centre for finance, commerce, retail, culture and leisure, home to a major international airport and one of the largest student populations in Europe. It has transformed itself from an industrial city dependent on manufacturing to a thriving, modern, dynamic, international city.

While manufacturing remains important, Manchester has attracted growth in the knowledge-based economy and is also the key economic driver for the region. It was voted Britain’s best city for business in a national survey of over 5,000 of the country’s biggest employers in 28 cities.

To encourage yet more business to the city, late last year Manchester City Council announced that it was planning the largest Wi-Fi zone in Europe. The proposed wireless zone is set to cover 400 square miles of the city, allowing its business and residents to access the internet for free.

While many cities have central Wi-Fi access zones about a mile wide, this is often not where most people and businesses are, says Manchester City Council’s Digital Development Agency head Dave Carter.
Last year, Manchester introduced a project management system to ensure that its multitude of IT projects followed similar processes and procedures and met deadlines and budgets. Manchester is using the support services organisation, Atkins-Mantix, which has developed the application and will act as the local authority’s partner. The aim is that 65 per cent of all projects should be delivered within five percentage points of the original budget. By tightening up its project management, the council expects to reduce its spend on consultancy by 10 per cent within two years.

The 700-plus projects cost Manchester £270 million a year and cover all 25,500 council employees. One of the first projects to be managed using the new system will deliver electronic social care records and a single assessment process for people seeking social care – the Manchester Information and Recording Environment project.

Manchester uses SAP R3 for its customer relationship management, finance and human resources systems.

By tightening up its project management, Manchester City Council expects to reduce its spend on consultancy by 10 per cent within two years