White Paper: Local Government IT Efficiency

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1 White Paper: Local Government IT Efficiency 2014, igroup ltd. All rights reserved. INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY DISCLAIMER This white paper is for informational purposes only and is provided as is with no warranties whatsoever including any warranty of merchantability, fitness for any particular purpose, or any warranty otherwise arising out of any proposal, specification, or sample. No license, express or implied, to any intellectual property rights is granted or intended hereby. Igroup Ltd disclaim all liability, including liability for infringement of proprietary rights, relating to implementation of information in this specification. Igroup Ltd do not warrant or represent that such implementation(s) will not infringe such rights. Product or company names mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

2 Contents Background... 3 About igroup Ltd The Use of Cloud Technologies... 5 Teleconferencing... 6 Obsolete Hardware... 7 Security Concerns... 7 Improved Collaboration... 8 Summary

3 Background According to the UK government, cuts in public spending mean that local government funding will fall by approximately 2.9% in compared to previous years. This follows a drop in funding of 1.7% in the financial year compared to Government has cited improved operational efficiency for councils as being the preferred method of finding savings rather than cutting services. IT and technical services are key areas for improvement in many councils and other local government organisations. Taking advantage of modern operating systems and software can improve productivity, while increases in the use of cloud services and teleconferencing can reduce the expense of meetings. Further, wider adoption of collaborative technologies between local governments and their agents such as schools and service providers can improve overall operating efficiencies substantially. 3

4 About igroup Ltd. igroup is an ISO 9001 certified organisation and a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner with our specialist competency in SharePoint. The SharePoint services we offer include development, hosting, consultancy, support and training. Our Managing Director, Steve Rastall has been named in Insider Magazine s Top 25 Up & Coming Entrepreneurs and we have also won a HOT 100 Fastest Growing Companies award. Since we were setup, we have at least doubled sales revenue every year via organic growth. For more information about the products and services offered by igroup ltd, please visit our website: Or contact us using the following address and telephone number:

5 The Use of Cloud Technologies Adoption of technology by local government has increased in recent years. Successive governments have encouraged the use of web based communication between representatives and constituents, and local councils across the UK all have web sites providing information about council services. As part of the research for this whitepaper, we looked at a sample of 10 councils from across the UK to investigate their current hosting arrangements: From this initial research it is clear that councils do not all use the latest version of the server software that is available Lancashire County Council use IIS 6.0 which was launched as part of Windows Server 2003 more than a decade ago. This has implications for both security, and flexibility to support more recent technologies. In the case of all the councils above who have outsourced the hosting of their primary gateway websites, the service providers have extensive back-up systems in place, however it is not clear whether any of them are currently managing the hosting via the cloud to provide multiple redundancy and greater flexibility in use. Cloud hosting is typically more cost effective than traditional dedicated servers, as costing is based on requirements. Microsoft Azure and similar technologies provide a stable and secure solution for local government which is well suited to the varying needs of each council over time. According to a study by Manchester Business School and RackSpace, moving to the cloud had a number of cost saving benefits: 88% of cloud users stated that moving to the cloud reduced costs 60% of cloud users cited the lack of infrastructure maintenance expense was a key saving Source: While the key benefits for local governments are the ability to reduce headcount in technical services while also creating savings in basic infrastructure costs, ancillary benefits such as higher up time and more reliable communication standards are also highly important to service users. 5

6 Teleconferencing Tele- and Video conferencing are the norm in many businesses, offering the ability for stakeholders in a project to meet on an ad hoc basis with lower costs than travelling to meet face to face. The average cost of a 1 hour meeting with 10 attendants can be significant. Lost productivity in the time taken to attend, coupled with the cost of facilities for the meeting and any expenses in attending can push the cost above 1000 per session. South Tyneside Council took steps to encourage video conferencing rather than face to face meetings between council members, employees, and constituents as part of measures to save 55 million per year. ( A number of options are available to organisations. For councils which already use the most recent versions of Microsoft Office and Exchange, Lync is likely to represent the best solution, as it is built in to the suite and allows for a number of additional functions including presenting content and collaborative editing. External user communication can be facilitated within Lync making it suitable for engaging with constituents, although in many cases they may be more familiar with alternative systems such as Skype or Google Hangouts. The use of these systems allows greater flexibility in terms of communicating than traditional means do, and also contribute positively to end user perception of the transparency and accessibility of their representatives. 6

7 Obsolete Hardware Retaining older hardware is often perceived as a method of reducing infrastructure expense. On the surface this is rational, as continuing to use functional hardware outside the support period of the manufacturer means that there is less capital expenditure for technology replacement. A study by GovernmentComputing.com ( in October 2013 showed that many local councils were still using Windows XP just 6 months before Microsoft are scheduled to end all support for the decade old operating system. A key reason cited for the continued use of Windows XP is the cost of upgrading infrastructure to a more modern system, and the requirement to use older versions of Internet Explorer (v6) to access certain government data bases. However, a study by IT Pro ( in 2012 showed that there a large number of costs for using the aging XP operating system. The annual cost of PC Support per user in 2012 was estimated as 554 per Windows XP machine, and 107 for Windows 7. In addition to this, the cost of maintaining a 5 year old machine which does not support many modern technologies such as Bluetooth or USB 2.0 are relatively high. Annual labour costs for servicing and replacement of parts was estimated at 487 per year. The estimate of the cost of lost productivity from using obsolete hardware and software was 206 per person. According to Stephen Kelly, the UK government s COO, the costs could be even higher. When taking into account lost productivity from slow boot times and operating speeds, and the staffing costs for support, he estimated a figure closer to 6,000 per machine per year. Security Concerns Aside from the considerable operating costs of older systems such as Windows XP, the looming end of service date in April 2014 is a greater concern from a security perspective. With no more software patches to counter vulnerabilities forthcoming from Microsoft beyond that date, user data will be increasingly at risk going forwards. 7

8 Improved Collaboration According to The Telegraph in 2013, by , a further 140,000 jobs within the public sector will have been made redundant through savings measures. Combined with the existing cuts since 2010, this change will mean that a total of 500,000 local and central government staff will have been cut. Private organisations have been able to cut many traditional administration roles over time through the use of increased collaboration and empowering staff to carry out a wider role an example of this would be the death of the traditional typing pool as a result of wider IT rollout. Increased collaboration can only be facilitated through the use of technologies which allow individuals to work together in real time. A number of alternatives for cloud collaboration are being adopted including SharePoint, and Google Apps. While Google Docs are traditionally seen as a free option, there are costs incurred through their use particularly if additional editing is done in more fully featured Productivity suites. Additionally, as security and permissions are set on a per-document basis, it is possible for sensitive material to become public. SharePoint combined with Microsoft Office 365 or Office 2013 allows for greater levels of security and sharing within a closed environment fully compliant with UK data protection rules. 8

9 G Cloud The UK Government introduced the G-Cloud service to promote increased use of Cloud Computing services throughout all tiers of Government with the objective of reducing overall IT spend. Government agencies are encouraged to use the G-Cloud service to procure cloud services with a focus on IAAS (Infrastructure as a Service) and put Cloud First during any procurement exercise. This approach brings challenges for IT Practitioners without including proper consultation about the correct path to take in acquiring solutions to ensure that they offer best value and represent an efficient manner of delivering services. As part of the process of migrating to the cloud, a strong planning phase to gather requirements and create a roadmap of development based on identified needs is important. 9

10 Summary Our research suggests that wider and more advanced use of current Information Technology solutions are able to deliver considerable savings for councils. Better adoption of modern operating systems such as Windows 7 / 8.1 will reduce the maintenance costs for existing systems below their current unacceptable levels. The use of cloud server technology will make data more accessible and reliable and reduce infrastructure and support costs. Increased use of video and tele-conferencing using technologies such as Lync or Skype will reduce meeting costs and improve communication efficiency both within and between local government agencies. Increased use of collaborative software technology such as SharePoint can offset some of the increased demands on staff through job losses. Initiatives such as G-Cloud indicate that the Government is adopting a proactive approach to adoption, however it is as yet unclear about the level of success that this is having with no information available for regarding take up. For more information about how igroup and our partners can aid you in a transition to a more modern IT Infrastructure, please visit our website. Or contact us using the following address and telephone number:

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