David Tidey oversaw the termination of an outsourcing deal that saw IT being brought back in-house after 13 years without, as it so easily could have, disruption to core services. While managing this feat, he also designed and implemented a new structure for a function that provides services to two different councils. During the whole process, he kept his team of IT business relationship managers at the centre of the changes in the wider organisation, assisting in three major system replacement projects and the service redesign of much of the rest of the IT.
Head of IT
Richmond and Wandsworth Councils
How are you influencing the products, customer experience and services your organisation offers to its customers?
To put this in context, in January 2015 Richmond and Wandsworth Councils agreed to set up a shared staffing arrangement (SSA) to reduce costs and protect frontline services. In July 2015 I was appointed designate head of IT for the new organisation. The SSA launched on 1 October 2016. On 1 December 2016, the outsourced IT relationship between Serco and Richmond Council came to an end, and the service was transferred back to the SSA IT service.
I have taken the lead on the delivery of digital customer services for the organisation, working with colleagues in our customer services function. In Wandsworth we have implemented a portal that enables customers to register for certain services and carry out transactions relating to these services. This portal complements the organisation’s website, which is also within my remit and rated as one of the best among peer organisations. I am now working with the customer service function of the SSA to define solutions that will be implemented across the new organisation.
Define the key business outcomes that you have delivered over the last 12 months and their impact on your organisation’s performance
The organisation has gone through a massive change over the past year. To support this I have led an IT programme that has delivered the following business outcomes:
- Business as usual: The organisation recognised that the changes it was going through could potentially be very disruptive, therefore the key business outcome was to deliver the core services reliably while successfully going through the organisational and IT changes outlined below. System reliability has remained high during the transition.
- Successful insource of IT from Serco: The Serco contract ended successfully last November, with 15 staff TUPE-transferred from Serco and its subcontractors. The project to achieve this lasted over a year and had to untangle 13 years of service supply from Serco. 25 contracts were either reprocured or novated.
- Create a new IT department to support the SSA. Over the past year, I have designed and implemented a new departmental structure, which was officially ‘launched’ on 1 October 2016. Staff from the three previous IT organisations were either directly matched to posts in the new structure or had to go through a selection process. At the end of the process 100 posts were filled, with only one compulsory redundancy.
- Support the wider organisation through its changes: During the whole change process our team of IT business relationship managers have been at the centre of the changes in the wider organisation. We are assisting in three major system replacement projects and with the service redesign of much of the rest of the SSA.
The programme has consisted of over 30 projects, 22 of which have successfully completed.
What has been your involvement with innovation at your organisation – in particular, with products, business model and technology – over the last 12 months?
The changes the organisation has been going through over the past year have been extremely innovative. The SSA is the largest shared organisation within local government. While there are a number of shared IT organisations, there are very few where the whole organisation is sharing everything. My approach has been to define a clear IT strategy that recognises that to drive efficiencies in the new organisation we must simplify and standardise the IT offering. This means that there is a significant programme of work to design a shared business model, ensuring that the services (ie the products) that we provide are harmonised and made as efficient as possible, and bringing together the IT of the two organisations. Our first big IT project is the implementation of a digital workspace to assist the organisation in operating efficiently and flexibly going forward.
How have you delivered cultural and behavioural change as a CIO within the IT department and/or more broadly across the organisation?
The past year has seen three separate IT teams coming together (the Richmond team, the Wandsworth team and the Serco team) into a single new IT organisation. My aim in designing the new structure was to provide excellent core services while supporting wider business change in the new SSA. My approach with the new team was to set clear goals and encourage individuals to take responsibility for projects within their areas of specialism, using their professionalism and judgement to deliver solutions the organisation needs. My focus going forward is to build on the initial reorganisation and develop a high-performing IT team.
How have you worked with your CEO and/or board to communicate whatever ‘digital’ and IT means to your organisation/sector and improve digital literacy at the highest levels of the organisation?
I regularly attend the board of directors to update the most senior people in the organisation on progress with the IT programme I am leading to support the formation of the shared staffing arrangement. I have organised a number of sessions with external suppliers and/or partners to educate the board and other senior managers on the potential of digital transformation. In particular, I am working closely with the customer services team to develop a vision and implementation plan for a modern local government service.
I am also working with the top team to develop our public offerings, such as on-street Wi-Fi, improved broadband provision and modern on-street digital kiosks.
How have you worked with the technology and IT vendor market to achieve your business goals? How have you been able to influence IT suppliers and successfully manage your partnerships/relationships with large IT companies, SMEs and startups?
We are following a cloud-first strategy, so I am engaging with vendors to see how they can assist us to deliver on this goal.
Over the past year the SSA has been implementing a cloud-based financial system provided by Capita. I have negotiated with Servlec-Corelogic to move our social care application into a hosted environment, and the organisation has started the procurement of two significant business applications (both are at the shortlisting stage) with cloud-first as a key requirement.
We have been working closely with Microsoft in order to deliver our digital workplace project, and have also engaged a number of SMEs to assist in specialist areas, such as document management.
How have you tried to develop the diversity of your team?
As a government employer, the diversity of our workforce is very important to us. One of my key aims is to increase the number of females as a percentage of the total workforce. At the moment 30% of the workforce is female, and I actively encourage their career development.
I chair the London CIO Council (a regular meeting of the London borough CIOs) and a recent initiative has been to bring along high-flying female colleagues to the meetings, partly to demystify the meetings for them, but also as a way of broadening experience and encouraging them in their careers.
Describe how you organise and operate IT and how this aligns effectively with business strategy and operations
As outlined above, the department has recently been formed by the merger of the IT teams at Richmond and Wandsworth Councils, plus the team transferred from Serco when the outsourced services at Richmond were brought back in-house.
The initial design of the new service follows fairly traditional lines, with the following teams: infrastructure, support, business development, digital and application support.
The teams are only four months old, so we are going through a phase of consolidation and bedding in, with further recruitment to replace contractors already under way.
I have a team of business relationship managers (within the business development team) who are working with the departmental boards to make sure that their business strategy is fully supported by my department. Because of the SSA there is a lot of work bringing disparate IT systems together. We have a projects and programme office that coordinates the projects identified by the relationship managers, and that marshals resources from other teams within IT to ensure that the projects are delivered.
I anticipate that as our cloud-first strategy starts to take effect the relative size of the teams will alter; old skills will be required less and new skills (such as integration) will replace them.
What strategic technology deals have you made in the last year and who are your main suppliers and IT partners?
I negotiated a new enterprise agreement with Microsoft, which combined the requirements of the two local authorities into one agreement.
Main suppliers and partners: Microsoft, BT, Vodafone, Capita, Civica, Servlec-Corelogic and Northgate Information Systems.
What are your key strategic aims for next year?
The overall themes from our IT strategy are:
- effective business as usual
- common IT infrastructure and systems
- digital agenda
- cost reductions
- flexible, mobile and collaborative working
- information integration, governance and security
- professional business change delivery
- new technologies, IT industry trends and practices.
All projects are measured against these themes to ensure they contribute towards the overall IT strategy.
The key strategic aims for next year are:
- implementation and roll-out of the new digital workplace
- support for service transformation (in particular – financial management, housing, planning and customer services)
- consolidation of our IT infrastructure
- continuing the organisational development of the IT service.
How are you preparing for any impacts Brexit might have on your organisation?
In the long term the key concern for the organisation is the impact Brexit will have on the country’s economic performance. A downturn in the economy will have a negative impact on our local businesses and residents, and will drive an increase in the demand for services. This will also hit the government’s finances, which is likely to lead to a reduction in central government grants. These possible effects are on top of the existing financial constraints the public sector is operating within.
Within IT I am looking at contracts to see if the depreciation of the pound-dollar exchange rate will impact on the prices of hardware and software. I am already seeing suppliers attempting to adjust prices upwards, and in some cases we have no option but to pay the higher prices.
When did you start your current role?
What is your reporting line?
Assistant director of resources
Are you a member of the executive leadership?
Are you a member of the board of directors?
How often do you meet with your organisation’s CEO or equivalent?
How many people at your organisation does your function supply services to?
What is your annual IT budget, or your spend as a proportion of the organisation’s revenue?
What percentage of your budget is operational spend (ie keeping the lights on) and how much new development (ie innovation, R&D, exploratory IT)?
70% operational spend and 30% new developments.
Rank the following sources of advice/information in order of importance:
- Analyst houses
- CIO peers
- Industry bodies
Has your organisation detected a cyber intrusion in the last 12 months?
Are you expecting an increase in budget specific to security in order to tackle the cyber threat?
Does your organisation have a designated security professional – CISO or otherwise – and what is their relationship to you?
Yes – security manager reports to me via the infrastructure manager.
Are you finding it difficult to recruit the talent you need to drive transformation?
Has recruitment and retention risen up your agenda as a CIO?
Does your IT organisation operate an apprenticeship scheme?
How many employees are there in your IT team?
Are you increasing your headcount or planning to bring skills and the ability to react to needs in-house?
Which technologies or areas are you expecting to be investing in over the next year?
- data analytics/business intelligence
- devices (mobile)
Which technologies or areas are you expecting to be investing in over the next one to three years?
- data analytics/business intelligence
- devices (mobile)
- devices (desktop)
What emerging technologies are you investigating or expect to have a big impact on your sector or organisation?
IoT and artificial intelligence.
Does your organisation do a significant amount of trade with the EU?
Does your department include technology staff from the EU?
Are you or have you been looking to the EU to recruit key skills?