Sunderland is the largest city between Leeds and Edinburgh. March saw the council’s IT department win the Department for Communities and Local Government 2007 Digital Challenge and Inclusion Network award for using IT to fight social exclusion. The win netted the council £5 million.

The authority is rationalising a fragmented approach to project planning away from separate IT, directorate and corporate led projects. Each proposal now passes through a Project Office, which reports to Sunderland’s deputy chief executive.

In 2006 it rolled out numerous SAP modules and refreshed the hardware platforms. It set up and equipped multi-agency centres. It also expanded its security standard ISO 27001 into ICT, rolled out a VOIP system and is now moving many staff to mobile working.

Over the next 12 months SAP CRM will rollout amid plans to move to standardised modules, although it has yet to use vanilla SAP.

The business case for EDRMS, web investment and a single content management system are being considered. In schools it is standardising support methodology across the city.

Summer 2006 saw it ditch an IBM mainframe and move systems off bespoke Cobol, saving around £200,000. The council has also standardised on one network protocol – moving Social Services off Novell to Microsoft as used by several other council departments.