The Chairman welcomed the Leader of the Council, the Director of Resources, and the Managing Director. He explained that the Committee was invited to review the project update report, consider the recommendations and learning points, and comment.
The Director of Resources introduced the report submitted to the Committee. She explained that the report was initially intended to be a post-project implementation review of the ICT Refresh project, but the project was not complete. The meeting was informed that an independent interim review of the project was within the papers submitted to the Committee. The Director of Resources advised the Committee that the interim ICT Lead Specialist and author of the Socitm Advisory report was unable to attend the meeting.
The Committee was informed that the business case for the ICT transformation submitted to the Executive for approval in November 2017 focused too narrowly on the implementation of Windows 10 and other sundry end user computing technologies and excluded refreshing other assets. The Committee was advised that infrastructure, network / communications, and devices such as mobile phones and printers were not included in the original business case. The Director of Resources advised the Committee that the project had been scheduled to complete within 18 months and cost £1.25million. She indicated that the rollout of end user devices had taken longer than anticipated and that the project had not been completed prior to the start of the Future Guildford implementation as planned. The Director of Resources advised the meeting that the Council had commissioned Socitm Advisory to undertake a review of the project to identify lessons to be learn and applied to other projects. The Socitm Advisory report was attached as Appendix 1 to the report submitted to the Committee.
The Director of Resources referred to the prioritised improvement recommendations set out in the Socitm Advisory report. The Committee was informed of the main areas identified for improvement:
· ICT governance and project management
· Telephony resilience and WIFI coverage at remote sites
· ICT asset management, security and disposal
· Completion of the core network upgrade
· Movement of staff shared drives to cloud storage
· Decommissioning of Citrix
The following points arose from the ensuing discussion and questions:
· There was a legacy of underinvestment in ICT at the Council.
· The original budget had been revised upwards three times during 2019 to £1.485million. The forecast spend to the completion of phase one of the project was approximately £200,000 over the revised budget, with the costs of decommissioning legacy systems as yet unknown.
· The Director of Resources indicated that she had believed that an infrastructure refresh had been included in the original project proposal. The Director of Resources stated that the Council directors responsible for the project were not IT experts and were reliant on subject knowledge experts to advise on the needs of the project. Committee members suggested that outside technical expertise was perhaps necessary to specify the products desired and to identify dependencies and risks at the outset of a proposed project.
· The project should have included all infrastructure components and been scheduled over a 3-4 year period rather than 18 months.
· The Director of Resources undertook to provide the Committee members with the numbers of permanent and subcontracted ICT staff at the Council and the location of physical servers still in use.
· The Director of Resources stated that the Council’s new intranet was staff focused and the Councillors did not have access.
· A member of the Committee suggested that the original budget was unrealistic for the project proposed and questioned whether financial inhibitions had affected proposed costings.
· In response to Committee members highlighting the Socitm Advisory report’s conclusion about project and programme management shortcomings, the Director of Resources indicated that lessons had been learnt for project and programme management within the ICT team. In addition, she advised the Committee that further advice and project planning and management templates had been provided by Socitm Advisory. The Director of Resources advised the meeting that it was recognised that project management across the Council needed to improve.
· With reference to the resources and skills identified in the Socitm Advisory report as no longer present due to the ICT restructure, Councillors questioned whether some skills had been lost to the Council altogether. In reply, the Director of Resources referred to the movement of some project management and programme skills and the level of ICT staff turnover.
· Councillors welcomed the decision to publish the Socitm Advisory report. They commented on poor project planning, the past mismanagement of the project, the lack of governance and reporting of activities, the lack of a project board for the full duration of the project, the absence of a robust communications and training plan for staff, and suggested the importance of obtaining business analyst or solution architect support.
· Councillors commented on the lack of reviews of the project during its implementation and suggested these would have highlighted the additional work required and potential costs. The Committee members questioned the apparent exclusion of items from the project due to their high risk and the failure to report issues.
· Responding to the lack of dedicated project management on the ICT refresh, the Director of Resources indicated that the Council would buy-in project management resource when needed.
· The Director of Resources advised the Committee that a new ICT Lead Specialist was being recruited.
· The Project Board responsible for governance of the ICT refresh consisted of Council officers only. The Director of Resources indicated that she was the senior officer on the Project Board.
· The Director of Resources indicated that the delay to delivery of the ICT refresh had affected the agile working of Phase A of Future Guildford. She informed the Committee that there had not been an ongoing impact on the Future Guildford transformation programme as it was resourced separately.
· The ICT refresh had promoted simplification and process improvement, such as the customer relationship management (CRM) and the enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.
The Leader of the Council welcomed the Socitm Advisory report and the efforts of the Director of Resources.
Summarising the discussion, the Chairman sought the Committee’s endorsement of the recommendations within the Socitm Advisory report. In addition, he highlighted the Committee’ concern with the issues identified in the Socitm Advisory report around project governance and delivery.
The Chairman suggested that the concerns raised by the Committee be noted, that the Council’s senior management team progress the necessary actions, that the Leader of the Council (as the Lead Councillor responsible for Governance) monitor the situation, and that the ICT Lead Specialist attend the Committee’s next discussion of the ICT refresh project.
RESOLVED: (I) That the recommendations within the Socitm Advisory report, attached as Appendix 1 to the report submitted to the Committee, be endorsed.
(II) That the Committee’s concern with the project governance and delivery of the ICT refresh project be noted.
(III) That an update on the ICT refresh project be provided to the Committee in six months’ time or upon completion of the project if sooner.