Birmingham’s unique combined approach for ICT and Digital services

Birmingham City Council’s ambitious new five year ICT and Digital strategy sets out how Information, Communications Technology and Digital technologies (ICTD) will support the way in which local services will be provided in the future, as the organisation continues to undergo major changes between now and 2021.

Birmingham remains committed to understanding people’s needs and putting them first, with ICT and the latest digital technology being powerful tools for understanding what people need to make their lives better and easier. The ICTD Strategy therefore plays a key role in supporting the council’s objectives for meeting the needs of its stakeholders, as well as addressing its financial challenges and implementing its evolving operating model.

From findings of a recently conducted review, this is the only combined strategy that Socitm has encountered and the most robust, complete and logical ICT and Digital approach it has seen, even when considering other ICT and Digital strategies separately.

Digital agenda

Through its digital agenda, the council will work in collaboration with local and regional partners and communities to develop improved access and greater use of digital services. This creates the potential to increase productivity, drive economic growth, create jobs, connect individuals and reshape how services are provided.

‘Digital’ therefore has an important role in the council’s transformation and developing a smart city approach will enhance the quality and performance of urban services, as well as encouraging innovation, greater entrepreneurship and citizen participation.

A combined approach

Birmingham’s combined ICT and Digital strategy will enable the delivery (with partners and suppliers) of cutting edge “best of breed”. In addition, integrated ICTD services and will embed the cultural change needed to benefit from best practice, improve workforce performance and manage service demand more effectively.

The combined approach also enables more strategic investment decisions in technology, based on the ‘Simplify, Standardise, Share’ design principles of the Local CIO Council (LCIOC). These principles set out a vision to speed up better outcomes and savings for local public services through redesign and digital transformation.

Strategy delivery

A themed approach has been developed via which the ICTD service will be redesigned, with each theme linked to the council’s core values, business plan and future vision —

  • Integrated ICT and Digital Services
  • Digital Facilitation
  • Insight
  • Commissioning
  • Governance
  • Innovation

In line with these themes and in addition to improving and maintaining the efficient, day-to-day running of the ICTD service, two major programmes of work will focus on designing and putting in place a new, cost effective ICTD operating model to support the new ways of working needed for the delivery of future council services.

Birmingham’s existing ICTD service is run by Service Birmingham, a partnership formed in 2006 between the council and Capita, the contract for which ends in March 2021. An alternative ICTD service model must be in place by 2021 and it is envisaged that it will incorporate features of the Service Integration and Management (SIAM) approach (or a hybrid of), rather than recreating the existing single supplier model.

As the transition to a new service model will also need the right ICTD foundations in place, a concurrent five-year investment programme will design and implement the future ICTD service, making best use of new and emerging technology.

Continued Development

Birmingham recognises that a successful strategy should become an ethos, not merely a document sat on a shelf. This approach will ensure that the strategic objectives for ICTD continue to be reviewed and developed over time, (with partners and suppliers) taking into account the evolving council’s requirements and the fast moving nature of technology.