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Council chiefs debate shared service success

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Focusing on shared services across local authorities, this week’s Eduserv webinar, hosted by Jos Creese, principal analyst, Eduserv Executive Briefing Programme, features first-hand accounts of council shared service experiences.

From partnership, trust and compromise to conflict and high emotion, Ed Garcez, chief information officer at Camden, Haringey and Islington Shared Service, Emma Marinos, director of Modernise, at Southwark LBC and Max Salisbury, content editor at SOCITM, described their experiences of shared service implementation.

Importance of relationships

Ed Garcez described the shared service model as like a “marriage”; a relationship where both parties have expectations, trust is crucial, compromise is essential and there’s always a risk you won’t get on!

People are at the heart of sharing services and success involves a progression as trust is earned and sovereign turf is relinquished. Ed demonstrated this process as a continuum from “co-existing to communicating, co-operating, collaborating and finally ‘combining’ in deep integration”. Shared learning involves authorities sharing problems and solving them by trusting each other and working together towards sustainable and successful service goals.

Building trust in Southwark

Emma Marinos shared Southwark’s recent experience of collaborating with Brent and Lewisham LBCs towards a shared service, having previously outsourced ICT.

Workshops and joint analysis of the parameters involved, such as levels of trust and power-sharing, were followed by the application of Eduserv’s Readiness Assessment for a Shared service Programme (RASP) A ‘lightbulb moment’ highlighted communication problems between councils around business buy-in, political backing, branding and identity. A communications and engagement specialist was appointed to deal with stakeholder management and mass communication such as road shows and surveys. Consequently, when the shared service was rolled out people understood why it was being introduced and what the benefits were.

Guidance from SOCITM

Socitm has just published a guide to ICT shared services. Focusing on trust, adaptability and outcomes, Max Salisbury shared some of the report’s key ideas, including the role of CIOs in delivering shared solutions and politicians becoming advocates. Despite many early models of shared services failing to scale up and meet expectations, Max shared examples of where initiatives have stimulated innovation and new ways of working.

“The SOCITM research indicates a wide range of drivers in the move to bring together capacity and skills across councils,” said Jos Creese, “The webinar finished on a positive point – shared services is an opportunity to bring stakeholders together, have open minded conversations and develop trust.”

You can hear the full discussion by viewing the webinar ‘Shared Services: Relationships worth nurturing’.

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