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Southwark to join Brent-Lewisham IT service


Director of modernisation says London borough to enter arrangement on expiry of its outsourcing deal

The London Borough of Southwark is planning to join Brent and Lewisham in their shared IT service later in the year, its director of modernisation has indicated.

Emma Marinos (pictured) outlined the plan at the Socitm spring conference, describing it as a work in progress but stating that the council intends to go live with the service when its existing outsourced deal with Capita expires at the beginning of November.

She said that Southwark initially made the decision to move to a service integration and management (SIAM) approach, but a market engagement process run during the summer of last year did not produce encouraging results. This led it to consider options including the Brent-Lewisham shared service, which the two councils launched in April of last year and began to offer to other authorities in October.

“There was a consideration to join the year earlier, but at that time it was felt there wasn’t enough experience to take the risk of joining,” she said. “But a year on we could see a lot of commonality between the three councils at a political and officer level.”

A series of stakeholder workshops involved working through the parameters of a shared service – such as sovereignty in decision-making, service planning and maximising performance – and each of the three councils giving itself marks on how it stood.

Marinos said they decided they aligned on most of the factors, and that it was useful to recognise the similarities and differences.

Transformation ownership

“The service is primarily around traditional IT core infrastructure services,” Marinos said. “Lewisham is currently looking at the applications going into transformation, and that’s the path we will take, but the three councils have decided to retain our own transformation programmes. The digital strategy is owned by the council, not the shared service.”

She added that they have been using eduserv’s readiness checker for a gap analysis on their capabilities in preparation for the move, and that Southwark has subsequently hired a change manager to fill the relevant gap.

This reflects the fact that the council will have to take a different approach in managing a different set of relationships. Marinos acknowledged that, having been in an outsourcing arrangement for some time, it will have to adapt to what is effectively an in-house service for three councils with a management committee and its own governance arrangements.

“We will be working alongside the head of the shared service on our thinking and what they can bring,” she said.

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