Warwickshire County Council is beginning to migrate many of its staff from using Google to the Microsoft productivity suite after opting for the latter in a consolidation exercise.
The council’s digital lead, Rob Musekiwa, said it is planning to step up its use of the Office 365 productivity tools, including an emphasis on Teams for video conferencing.
It is also planning to move from McAfee Antivirus to Windows Defender.
The move derived from different teams within the council using either Microsoft or Google productivity suites over the past six years, with some business teams having procured the former and the technology team choosing the latter when replacing the old Notes email system.
It fuelled a growing recognition that the council was paying unnecessary costs and undermining its own efficiency, and a technology review by Gartner Consulting led to a decision late last year to opt for the Microsoft suite. Musekiwa said a scoring assessment of the two suites rated Microsoft higher on issues such as document security and integration capabilities, as well as having more features overall.
Moving at pace
It has purchased the relevant licences, run a series of workshops and “is moving at pace” with the aim of migrating most staff within three months, and the remainder of the 4,500 people within six months when the Google contract is due to expire.
“The key difference for me is the pace we have been able to move at,” he said. “Some organisations take two or three years, but that is too long and is an opportunity cost. The faster you do it the earlier you get the benefits.”
Musekiwa added that the digital changes are beginning after an 18-month programme of organisational change within the council.
“It’s better if organisational and technology change go hand in hand as long as it is business led,” he said. “Part of the problem was that at Warwickshire it was previously technology led and it lacked a cohesive approach.”
Changes include an increased emphasis on ‘bring your own device’ and mobile working, and the council is also targeting significant savings.
Warwickshire is also planning to develop a data analytics platform from its Microsoft stack, working with business intelligence specialist itelligent-i, to pull together data from different systems for more holistic reporting.
“Our data is currently very siloed in systems for particular services, but being able to pull it together and see different patterns will give us the right kind of insights,” Musikewa said. “We’re also going to get the right data to the right people at the right time to inform their decision-making.”
He said the platform should be ready for testing in two to three months and ready for full use by the end of the current financial year.
While the council has a data analytics team, it is aiming to get members of service teams using the platform.
It has also recently migrated its website to a Jadu system, and is now looking at how it can bring together reusable components for the site such as a single payments solution and the National Land and Property Gazetteer.
“The critical thing for us is end-to-end digital,” Musikewa said. “We don’t want digital services that drop off into manual. We’re looking at all of our services and how we can make them end-to-end digital.”