Natural Resources Wales is a Welsh-government-sponsored body which became operational on April 1, 2013 when it took over the management of the natural resources in Wales. The organisation is responsible for over 40 different types of regulatory regime, including radioactive substances, marine licensing, tree felling, major industry (like refineries and power stations) and the waste industry.
The body was formed from the merger of the Countryside Council for Wales, Environment Agency Wales, and the Forestry Commission Wales - and also assumes some other roles formerly taken by the Welsh Government. Its CIO Martin Britton, who previously worked for the Welsh Government, is one of the youngest CIOs in the CIO 100.
When did you start your current role?
Have you completed an MBA?
Order the following sources of advice/information by value to you:
4. Peer group
Technology strategy and spending
What is the major transformational IT project that has been recently completed, or is underway at your organisation?
Our organisation was formed as a new public body on April 1, 2013. It absorbed over 2000 staff and systems of 3 legacy bodies (Countryside Council for Wales, Forestry Commission Wales, Environment Agency Wales and took over their functions. Since then we have undertaken a large transformation programme, to rationalise and modernise our ICT estate. The aim is to merge these three organisations into one, using cloud based platforms such as Office 365 and Microsoft Azure providing connectivity between four different networks into over 60 locations across Wales. As the first Public Sector body in Wales to adopt Office 365, we have led the way in implementing cloud technologies and other organisations are now adopting this model.
We are also rebuilding our ICT capability; rather than using traditional large Systems Integrators, we are building our own ICT Team to provide support to our staff, and to administer our cloud bases systems. We launched the first European funded Microsoft Apprenticeship Scheme in Wales, and currently have 9 apprentices. This scheme, called “Cyfoeth” (meaning riches in Welsh) is open to all organisation in Wales across all sectors and has been adopted by a number of organisations creating many excellent opportunities across Wales. The apprenticeship is two years in length, during which the individual will become MCSE certified and will benefit from two years’ work experience at which point we would hope they will become permanent employees.
We are also migrating all the traditional server based applications onto our MS Azure cloud solution (over 800 of them) and decommissioning hardware and services based in datacentres.
What impact will it/does it have on the organisation?
As well as providing a substantially reduced operating cost, when benchmarking against either the legacy organisations, or cabinet benchmarks, we are also providing a better standard of service, and more resilient, leaner, faster systems to our staff. In tandem with the ICT changes, we are also changing our ways of working to leverage the benefits of cloud, such as allowing greater flexibility for mobile working, and utilising video conferencing services such as Lync from our desktop to help avoid travel where possible.
What new strategic technology deals has your organisation struck and with whom?
Microsoft are providing Office 365, MS Azure, SQL Azure and SCCM. We also have around 60 MS Surfaces used primarily by our Executive and Leadership Team
Lenovo are our primary desktop hardware supplier, though we are also using some ruggedized Lenovo tablets for field users.
Nokia – We are using Lumias for mobile email requirements, slowly phasing out our Blackberry estate.
Name your strategic technology suppliers?
Microsoft, Nokia, Lenovo
What is the IT budget?
What is the strategic aim of the CIO and IT operations for the next financial year?
To continue the transformation project in the same vain and to increase the scale of the apprenticeship scheme within Wales.
The transformation project aims to have all users on the NRW network by December 2014, in the meantime, we continue to provide solutions that allow us to integrate as an organisation across all four of our existing networks
Would you describe the CIO role as a transformation leader in your organisation?
The roles and responsibilities of my position are specifically orientated to transforming our organisation away from legacy systems and ways of working, and to embrace new technologies. My performance is measured on the success of balancing the implementation of huge swathes of change, with the continued operation of the business and morale of staff.
Describe the transformations you have led / been involved in, how did they transform operations, customer experience or the organisation?
In my previous role, I led a programme to roll out a Learning platform to every learner and teacher in Wales (800,000 users). It also provided each individual with a license for Office 365 which they could use from home. This has helped to change the way education is delivered in Wales, and provided opportunities for teachers to share learning content across the country.
Beyond technology, can you describe a business transformation programme that you own or contribute to?
Though technology underpins our Transformation programme, it is primarily about a change in the ways of working across the business. With the cuts in Public Sector we need to help our staff become more efficient, less bureaucratic and make sure these efficiencies count towards real improvements in the way we deliver front-line services to the public, and customer service to our customers.
To do this, we are re-evaluating all our business processes, and finding smarter ways to achieve the same outcomes but with fewer resources. This means unpicking the way people may have worked for some time (decades in some cases) and helping ensure the mindsets of staff are not only prepared for this, but enthusiastic and creative about achieving this.
What key technologies are being considered to enable transformation?
Most of our technology choices have been made, but we as new requirements emerge, our strategy is to make sure all applications will use cloud based technologies primarily sourced from the G store where possible. An example of this is GIS, and we will be one of the first adopters of GIS cloud technology in the UK.
What percentage of your applications / infrastructure is run from the Cloud?
Almost 100% - All our NRW applications are cloud based, our data centre footprint is limited to Domain Controllers, firewalls and a small amount of storage.
How is the use by employees of their own technology, use of mobiles and social networking impacting operations, customer experiences or the organisation at present?
We don’t permit the use of employees own technology, though we do deploy smartphones to staff. We also have a Corporate Yammer system integrated with Office 365 which is used by all staff. There are many user groups and communities of practice set up on this, where staff collaborate to share information and solve problems.
We also have external Facebook, Twitter and Storify accounts, which not only describe the work we do, but are also used to issue flood alerts to the public, especially via Twitter.
Do you have a plan in place for how to deal with shadow IT and BYOD. How do you influence and engage executives, place the right controls around employee choice and engage with the organisation on this issue?
We don’t permit BYOD, we have an “Any Device” policy, as long as it is an NRW device. As we own the device this means we can remotely wipe it if it is lost or stolen, which is a big issue for BYOD as remotely wiping someone personal device could constitute wilful destruction of data. Therefore we don’t restrict departments or dictate what devices they can or can’t have, as long as it is substantiated with a good business case and meets our security requirements.
In terms of shadow IT, where possible we migrate this to our MS Azure cloud ensuring our security requirements are met. This then allows us to provide the business with the agility it needs as we can swiftly implement tailored business solutions in a flexible way.
Where do you seek transformational inspiration from?
I am keen to make Wales a better place and strive to make NRW an ICT exemplar for both public and private sector. By building skills in Wales with our apprenticeship scheme, and with ongoing industry training and qualifications being provided to our existing ICT staff, I am aiming to make Wales a place where ICT companies would look to invest in, and where there are a wealth of highly skilled well paid jobs, with a workforce to back that up.
I am also a member of the Welsh Government Digital First Steering Committee which seeks to implement a practical strategy for Digital Services in Wales, including the use of shared services where possible.
The CIO role in the business
Who do you report to?
Do you have a seat on the board?
How often do you meet with the CEO?
Does your organisation have a digital leader and what is the difference in their responsibilities to yours?
What percentage of IT budget do you control and what percentage of IT budget does your digital peer hold?
The IT department
How many staff make up the IT team?(What is the split between in-house/outsourced staff)
60 - 80/20 split between permanent and consultants.
Describe the CIO’s management team, do you have direct reports that develop the relationship and services between the business and IT?
The Head of ICT and Head of ICT Transition are accountable to me. The Head of ICT is responsible for providing our ICT Service to the business measured against agreed SLAs. The Head of ICT Transition leads the ICT Transition programme working closely with our business stakeholders to prioritise the needs of this programme of change.
And how many log-in accounts do you issue across you organisation?
What is the primary technology platform? ( for example ERP, Website, trading system)
MS Office – we have a disparate business that also uses GIS, CRM, HR+Finance systems etc