A partnership between Edinburgh City Council and its ICT supplier is now ‘more likely’ to deliver transformation benefits after slow progress in the first phase of the contract.
The local authority had signed up global tech company CGI as its ICT managed service supplier in 2016 but the initial two-year period failed to deliver the anticipated ‘transformational outcomes and benefits’, according to an Audit Scotland report.
The development of a digital strategy – signed off last month – and ‘improved governance’ now exist to deliver a range of digital projects with the report noting it is ‘more likely that the council will achieve expected efficiencies and transformation.’
The findings, which were contained in the Best Value Assurance Report – as part of a regular process of external oversight by the independent body – also illustrate progress that has been at the council with regards to a number of digital developments.
- A platform providing access to learning and development material
- A new website and a new intranet
- Initiatives to digitise service delivery as well as improve customer and staff experience
- A new Customer Relationship Management system in 2019 which allows residents to report issues or make requests online
- Automating landlord registration and launching an online revenue and benefits system to allow people to check benefit claims and pay bills
The report notes: “The council’s approach to date has been to automate, where possible, activities that are known to be time intensive for staff. The council has been digitising its services without a digital strategy to inform its decisions and how it will enhance the digital skills of staff. Although it has made digital improvements, it has not had a digital strategy to set out how digitalisation will help the council to achieve its required savings, make service efficiencies and improve customer and staff experience. The council recently prepared a digital strategy which was approved by the Policy and Sustainability Committee in October 2020.”
The council recently announced its decision to sign a £100m six-year extension to its existing contract with CGI – running now to 2029 – as it sought to deliver on Edinburgh’s vision of becoming one of the world’s ‘smartest’ capital cities.
Part of that plan is to set up a ‘Smart City Operations Centre’, which will deliver ‘transformative digital services using artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and advanced analytics to accelerate benefits to Edinburgh’s citizens’.
Elma Murray, Interim Chair of the Accounts Commission, said: “The City of Edinburgh Council can do more to maximise its potential to improve the city and the lives of local people. Whilst the ambition of the council and its partners is impressive, the detail of how it will deliver, monitor and report on its key strategic goals must be in one accessible and coherent plan. It is the responsibility of all local councillors, working together, to ensure the city and its services continue to improve.
“It is important for the council to focus on continuous improvement and the creation of long-term financial and workforce plans. I expect the council to act swiftly on our report. Doing so will support the council’s ambitions to improve the lives of its residents.”