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Folkestone & Hythe launches ICT transformation


Mark Say Managing Editor

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Folkestone & Hythe District Council has kicked off a five-year ICT programme with the deployment of a low code digital platform.

As part of the first phase, the council is implementing Arcus Global Local Government Platform under a four-year contract to replace multiple legacy systems and de-supported infrastructure.

The council’s ICT contracts officer Steve Makin said the move is a first step in preparing for the end of its current 10-year outsourcing contract with Sopra Steria for ICT support. It is not yet decided whether it will take the role back in-house – the council owns the systems and licences under the current deal – or outsource again, but believes the move to cloud will require a different type of support.

He said the Arcus platform, which consists of a series of ‘out of the box’ modules for local government built on Salesforce, is providing the foundations for a new approach, the priorities of which include shifting its entire IT infrastructure to the cloud and a review of its legacy systems.

“We’re buying a system for processes broadly in line with what we do at the moment, taking in a lot of low level transactions,” he said.

Customer emphasis

The first stage, to run over the next 12 months, will involve using the platform to provide a new multi-channel customer engagement system, enable more self-service for customers and staff, and take in back office business processes such as planning, building control, land charges, gazetteer, environmental health and licensing. It can extend to incorporate solutions for a range of business functions on a single technology stack.

In the short term remaining legacy back office systems will be integrated via an open API layer. They will be moved onto the platform and switched off where it makes commercial sense to do so.

Folkestone & Hythe will then consider the next moves in the transformation, although it has plans for setting up a customer contact centre, Skype for Business and a document management solution – all in the cloud.

“The strategy is to look to the end of the Steria contract and provide the technology stack we think is more easily supportable with fewer people,” Makin said.

“In the next 12 months we’ll start looking at IT processes from 2022 onwards. It will be a lot simpler to support and more resilient.”

Changing processes

He added: “By moving to a software-as-a-service model, we will have the ability to change traditional processes whilst still being able to integrate with technology used within the council and by our partners.

“Also, moving away from an ‘on premise’ infrastructure will make us more secure and resilient and by using a world leading technology stack means we can take advantage of new innovations for the benefit of our residents, businesses and staff.

“Most importantly, consolidating systems and data onto a modern, flexible platform, we can provide a single customer view with a seamless experience for the resident no matter which service they require or department they talk to.”

Makin added that the move is expected to provide savings in the region of £250,000 per year

Among the ambitions for future development is a ‘My Account’ feature for customers to support self-service and accessing information.

Image: Folkestone harbour by Maskim, CC BY-SA 3.0


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