As the second-largest metropolitan local authority in England, Leeds City Council has continued with its programme to exploit technology to raise the levels and channels of service it is tasked with providing to its 715,000 citizens.
In March 2008, Leeds's 345-strong team of IT professionals successfully completed an upgrade to Windows XP, and claimed to have saved taxpayers' money and minimised disruption by using the Centennial Discovery automated software auditing tool to streamline the process. More than 12,000 laptops and PCs were upgraded to XP, and the council's IT managers claimed that the software - which Leeds has used since 2004 - would help it save around £75,000 a year.
Leeds used the upgrade as an opportunity to deploy new asset management software that will help it in its work towards complying with the IT Information Library (ITIL) governance framework for further productivity and efficiency improvements, particularly in light of previous work to rationalise its disparate 850-strong application estate.
The council has also been developing its Information and Knowledge Management agenda through the deployment of document and records management, business intelligence (BI) and collaboration technologies to ensure the value to the organisation of its collective knowledge is maximised.
Chief ICT officer Dylan Roberts, who chairs the West Yorkshire CIO group, has recently been developing a Digital Community Strategy for the Leeds region and on the delivery of further operational efficiencies in the business and ICT through the exploitation of collaboration and converged communications technologies.
The authority also said its Information Technology Network Improvement Programme (NIP), delivered by lead strategic supplier SCC, has produced some £3m in savings as a result of "an increase in productive time across the council through improvements in service availability, speed of performance, ease of access and the ability for staff to work anytime anywhere". Improved IT infrastructure enabled the development of e-payment methods to allow Leeds to switch payments from expensive labour-intensive methods to those that are more efficient, like direct debit or its e-payments programme, which has delivered a saving of £540,000.