West Midlands county authority Staffordshire County Council is based in the county town of Stafford. The authority area includes the cities of Stoke on Trent, which has a unitary authority and cathedral city Lichfield.

IT leader: Sander Kristel, CIO.

In role since: May 2007.

Reporting line: CFO.

How often does the CIO meet with the CEO: Once per month.

Board level seat: No it forms part of the wider leadership team which is the top 30 managers in the organisation.

IT budget: Approximately £22,500,000.

IT estate and or number of log on accounts under the control of the IT leader: There are over 9,000 corporate login accounts. Additionally to that there are 35,000 devices on the schools’ network that are used by multiple users.

IT staff currently employed: Approximately 280.

Split between in-house/outsourced staff: Most staff are in-house although we have outsourced some services in areas where it makes sense from a risk, cost or recruitment & retention perspective such as core network support and SAP Basis.

IT management team and reporting structure:

  • Head of Service Management (i.e. service desk, infrastructure, PSN etc.),
  • Head of Staffordshire Learning Technologies (all services to schools including business liaison and account management). This service will form part of a new innovative Joint Venture (approx. 5,000 staff) providing Education Support Services. The CIO currently leads on the functional workstream for that procurement which includes ICT as well as other support services.
  • Head of ICT Improvements (development, procurement, business liaison and account management).
  • Director of Staffordshire Connects (runs the Staffordshire Connects Partnership).

Primary technology platforms at the organisation: SAP (ERP), Capita One (young people), GIS, Trim (ERDMS), Sims (schools) and obviously email (MS Exchange).

Primary technology suppliers: SAP, Microsoft, Cisco, KCom, Capita, RM, HP, Specialist Computer Centre.

Significant strategic technology deals struck in the last 12 months: With KANA to provide a shared CRM in the cloud /hosted for the county council and other local authorities across Staffordshire as part of the Staffordshire Connects Partnership which the CIO is the Strategic Director for.

With CareWorks for a new SocialCare system which will not only be used by council staff but also by staff within the new integrated Health trust which is the largest of its kind in the UK.

The expansion of the Public Services Network contract which apart from the signed-up Health partners now also covers Wolverhampton Education Network and provides Lichfield DC with a shared broadband, telephony and contact centre solution.

Social investment into Patchwork, a small “.com” start-up providing a simple to use Social Media App that supports frontline staff (particularly around Troubled Families) with easy, secure access to the contact details of other practitioners involved with a family. This is the first Social Media App we will be using to support our staff.

We launched the “Me, Myself & I” (gamification) App through which residents can self assess their needs to live an independent, fulfilling and enjoyable life. The App was developed together with the Serious Games Institute.

Percentage of your applications/infrastructure run from the cloud: Main applications are still hosted by the council. The first major cloud/ hosted service will be the joint CRM system. A recent study showed that for the council it is still more cost effective to host its own infrastructure although all our major tenders now include options for cloud/hosting. We have therefore opted to implement an in-house private cloud solution as a replacement of our current Virtualised Infrastructure. The new solution can be shared with other organisations. Microsoft used our solution as a case study.

Major technology or transformation project recently completed and how did it transform operations, customer experience or the organisation: The delivery of the IT environment for the new council HQ, Staffordshire Place, which is an amalgamation of 17 buildings in and around Stafford. The new IT environment includes hot desking (6/7 desks for every 10 staff), virtualised desktops, home and remote working facilities (e.g. touch down centres), a new print solution, interactive whiteboards in meeting rooms, video conferencing etc.

The new building and technology solution has transformed the way we work, deal with customers, provides a welcoming customer environment and is an important part of the economic regeneration of the centre of Stafford.

Did the above project reach its cost, timing and transformation objective: Yes all delivered within plan. A recent six-month review of the associated print environment showed that, over and above the £250,000 per year savings the council is making on the actual building, approx. £350,000 per year savings are made as a consequence of the new print environment.

Business transformation programme – beyond technology – that the CIO owns or is a major contributor to: Lead on the tri-council project between Staffordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire which includes IT as well as non IT services such as contract management and social care.

Leads the functional work stream and is a major contributor to the Education Support Services project developing an innovative joint venture.

Strategic aim of the CIO and IT operation for the next financial year: Assess impact and continue to respond to the council becoming a commissioning organisation (i.e. more services provided with or by others).

Providing end-to-end easy to use services to the public in collaboration with other partners – simply put; the public, in general, does not understand who does what in the public sector and we need to continue to make it easier for them to get the services that they need regardless of what organisation delivers those services. Technology forms a major part of that change by providing communication and collaboration tools for staff, customer portals, securely sharing data and use of simple Apps.

And of course cost savings.

Strategy in the use by employees of their own technology, use of mobiles and how social networking is impacting operations, customer experiences or the organisation: Management tools to facilitate BYOD type services currently being piloted.

Strategy for dealing with shadow IT and BYOD including influence and engagement with executives, to place the right controls around employee choice: Currently reviewing products that ensure the security of information. Considering giving all councillors an allowance rather than a device after the next elections to ensure that they have devices that suit them. The council’s Cabinet and Senior Leadership team successfully trialled iPads, made their meetings paperless and made efficiencies as a consequence.

The influence that is required is similar to the centralisation of ICT and the amalgamation of some major applications such as ERDMS as well as the changes that have been successfully made within the new building. Engagement, piloting and “land and expand” tactics are being applied as well as efficiency through technology sessions run by our training team.

Technologies are being considered to enable transformation: Apps, private cloud, cloud, BYOD.

Transformational inspiration sources:

  • Social Media (i.e. Twitter @StaffsCIO).
  • Other media.
  • Other private and public sector organisations through networking.
  • Conferences.
  • Examples of services that other industries (particularly the retail industry) already deliver.