IBM today announced that it has signed a £5.4bn eight year deal with Essex County Council to deliver enhanced services whilst saving 20% on the council’s annual £1.2bn budget
As strategic partner, IBM will provide a range of transformation services that may include: the design, management and delivery of front-end customer services, back-office and corporate systems; together with business consulting and technology. The agreement with IBM forms a cornerstone of the Council’s plan to transform its operation by diverting £300M away from back-end processes, property management and procurement to invest in front-line services.
As part of the agreement, IBM and Essex also today announced the signing of the first two projects, which are the initial stages of the transformation programme and will involve the modernisation of the Council’s back-office function and streamlining of procurement.
“Essex County Council is recognised as one of the most innovative councils in the UK. Drawing on IBM expertise, we will work closely with the council as it moves towards a more efficient, customer-focused organisation that delivers first class front-line services,” said IBM UK and Ireland chief executive Brendon Riley
Leader of Essex County Council, Lord Hanningfield, added: “IBM has demonstrated its ability to help us deliver our vision of providing the very best quality of service for our residents. Working together we will also be able to keep council tax low and deliver real value for money for Essex residents. This is the most ambitious project that the Council has undertaken, and finding the right partner to help us deliver it is a vitally important step.“
Writing in a blog on the Conservatives website, councillor Harry Phibbs said the “boldness and radicalism” of what is planned can hardly be denied.
“There don’t appear to be any sacred cows being hidden away from IBM. Libraries, social care, highways, school management are all under review. Services already contracted out will be reviewed. Sometimes Essex will buy in services from other Councils - sometimes sell services to other councils. But it sounds as though it is being implemented in a sensible, practical manner. The process will be rolled out service by service. IBM won’t run everything themselves. If the service can be more efficiently subcontracted or remain in-house that will happen. The Council will remain management partners.
“Cutting back on overmanning will be crucial,” he said. “This will not only be in reducing duplication and reducing admin. It will also look at how services are delivered. The Council leader Lord Hanningfield is interested in outcomes. He says: “In future we won’t be specifying how a pothole is repaired but we will insist that there are no more potholes in that road for five years.” Simon Humberstone of IBM says care for the elderly could be improved at lower cost. He says: “We can set up a hoist and send one worker instead of two. This is both cheaper and allows more one-to-one time between staff and patient.”