Councils look for 'good enough' IT solutions

That'll do, pig


IT departments in local government are moving towards minimising their costs in response to the spending cuts, according to a new report from Socitm.

The annual IT Trends in Local Public Services report from the public sector IT organisation, published on 20 January, says that IT teams are having to cope with further reductions in their budgets, which have fallen by an average of 2.6 per cent on last year to total approximately £2.75bn in 2010-11. John Searle, the author of the report, said this follows a reduction of about 20 per cent since the financial crisis hit in 2007.

They now face further cuts in budgets and staff numbers, and skill shortages are developing in some areas. But some of the effects have been mitigated by increased competition between suppliers and falling prices for equipment and services.

One of the consequences is that IT departments are now looking to standardise their operations on "good enough" solutions rather than looking for highly bespoke but more expensive systems.

This is part of an effort to obtain better value for money from ICT, to which end councils are considering radical changes in three main areas: - deep service sharing with other authorities or outsourcing; - ditching expensive equipment, software and service contracts; - maximising self-service, the use of cloud computing and strict standardisation.

They are also focusing on process improvement, cost reduction and increasing the effectiveness of the workforce.

Spending cuts are also influencing the other developments identified in the report. Among these is increased take-up of virtualisation technologies, and an increase in mobile and flexible working to support the rationalisation of office space.

IT departments are also looking to replace old enterprise agreements and software licensing deals with centralised management of desktops and new server software. This can help to reduce the need for junior employees to fix PCs and untangle software problems.

While the report emphasises the problems, Searle said that IT departments have already begun to respond successfully to the challenges from the financial squeeze.

"It was a difficult 2009, but IT organisations have emerged stronger and fitter, with the ability to deliver the transformation needed by local government," said John Searle, the author of the report.

"IT costs are going down, the IT contribution is going up and IT is delivering," he added. "IT has shown that you can do more with less."

He also said that there has been resistance to shared services because of organisational politics, but that this is breaking down. "The financial pressures are so great now that people are saying we have to put these issues to one side," he said.

The report is based on a survey which drew responses from 520 organisations.

This article was originally published at Kable.

Kable's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here.

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Minimal, systemd-free Alpine Linux releases version 3.16
    A widespread distro that many of its users don't even know they have

    Version 3.16.0 of Alpine Linux is out – one of the most significant of the many lightweight distros.

    Version 3.16.0 is worth a look, especially if you want to broaden your skills.

    Alpine is interesting because it's not just another me-too distro. It bucks a lot of the trends in modern Linux, and while it's not the easiest to set up, it's a great deal easier to get it working than it was a few releases ago.

    Continue reading
  • Verizon: Ransomware sees biggest jump in five years
    We're only here for DBIRs

    The cybersecurity landscape continues to expand and evolve rapidly, fueled in large part by the cat-and-mouse game between miscreants trying to get into corporate IT environments and those hired by enterprises and security vendors to keep them out.

    Despite all that, Verizon's annual security breach report is again showing that there are constants in the field, including that ransomware continues to be a fast-growing threat and that the "human element" still plays a central role in most security breaches, whether it's through social engineering, bad decisions, or similar.

    According to the US carrier's 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) released this week [PDF], ransomware accounted for 25 percent of the observed security incidents that occurred between November 1, 2020, and October 31, 2021, and was present in 70 percent of all malware infections. Ransomware outbreaks increased 13 percent year-over-year, a larger increase than the previous five years combined.

    Continue reading
  • Slack-for-engineers Mattermost on open source and data sovereignty
    Control and access are becoming a hot button for orgs

    Interview "It's our data, it's our intellectual property. Being able to migrate it out those systems is near impossible... It was a real frustration for us."

    These were the words of communication and collaboration platform Mattermost's founder and CTO, Corey Hulen, speaking to The Register about open source, sovereignty and audio bridges.

    "Some of the history of Mattermost is exactly that problem," says Hulen of the issue of closed source software. "We were using proprietary tools – we were not a collaboration platform before, we were a games company before – [and] we were extremely frustrated because we couldn't get our intellectual property out of those systems..."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022