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Government unveils new shared services strategy



Robotics, offshoring, convergence of processes, increased use of cloud and development of new shared platforms feature in plan to increase efficiency in Civil Service, police and armed forces

Government departments will be encouraged to make more of robotics, look seriously at offshoring processes and converge more of their processes under a new shared services strategy published by the Cabinet Office.

It is aimed at pushing the major departments towards the top of a five point maturity scale, in which a set of shared services are fully integrated, owned by a “global leader” and operating under a common governance structure.

In addition, a new Government Shared Services unit has been set up in the Cabinet Office to work with other departments on the delivery of the strategy.

The Cabinet Office said it focuses heavily on new cloud technology, simplifying back office processes across departments with automation, and meeting the needs of end users in the Civil Service, police forces and armed forces. It claimed this will help to create a smarter and more flexible back office.

It predicted that, once implemented, the strategy will promote competition between providers.

Savings forecast

Title Shared Services Strategy for Government, the document forecasts that it could produce savings of 10-15% over the lifetime of its roadmap, although it does not provide a timescale for the change.

It brings together an emphasis on self-service, robotics for automation repeatable tasks and offshoring in one of three strands for making government more efficient.

The offshoring element would have to comply with official policy on data security and relevant legislation, and be assessed periodically to ensure the compliance continues.

A continued move to cloud would increase the focus on software-as-a-service. The document points to the benefits of software upgrades being quicker and demanding fewer resources from the departments, and the example of extending the existing Oracle Cloud Home Office pathfinder.

It also identifies a need to split technology and service, with shorter business processing outsource contracts and more suppliers, to increase efficiency. Again, it points to the Home Office’s work with Oracle as a pathfinder for the model.

Another feature involves convergence, with standard and consistent processes for end user support and reporting, and consistent data principles and standards. The strategy involves the creation of three platforms to make this possible, one each based on Oracle and SAP technology with a third to provide a cheaper alternative for smaller departments.

These could be picked up by different departments, which would also make the decisions for agencies in their respective families.

Plan and platform

Next steps include the development of a fuller implementation plan, the beginning of work on the third platform, a move to strategic governance under the Government Shared Services unit, and negotiations with Shared Services Connected Ltd – the joint venture with Steria to deliver shared services – on splitting technology and processes in its centres.

Matthew Coats (pictured), interim head of government shared services, and chief operating officer of the Ministry of Justice said: “The shared services strategy for government sets clear direction, and I am pleased to have been part of its development. This will be step change in shared services across the government, directly supporting civil servants in their roles, while also contributing significant savings to the public purse.

“By allowing civil servants to spend less time doing administration, they can spend more time delivering vital services to the public.”

Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0

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