Folkestone & Hythe District Council (FHDC) is to embrace an ambitious cloud first digital strategy that has been designed to drive substantial savings through a combination of business and ICT transformation.
The Council is undergoing a complete redesign of its services underpinned by a review of its legacy ICT systems, with a goal of moving its entire IT infrastructure to the cloud using as few underlying applications as possible.
The four-year ICT programme will underpin the Council wide ‘Transforming Folkestone & Hythe’ programme and will deliver major improvements for residents and local businesses whilst substantially reducing annual operating expenditure.
The council has selected Arcus Global, a leading cloud solutions provider for the public sector, to deliver key aspects of the ICT project.
Restricted by Legacy IT
Tim Madden, Director of Customer, Support, and Specialist Services at Folkestone & Hythe District Council said: “For many years we have been restricted by legacy IT systems, some of which are 15-20 years old but now is the time to adopt a fresh approach to IT to enable the wider business transformation and aspirations of the Council. This partnership with Arcus will allow us to remain efficient and provide the best possible service to our residents, whilst ensuring we have the right technology in place to help deliver our medium to long term transformation strategy.
“By moving to a Software as a Service model, we will have the ability to change traditional processes whilst still being able to integrate with technology used within the Council and by our partners. Also, moving away from an ‘on premise’ infrastructure will make us more secure and resilient and by using a world leading technology stack means we can take advantage of new innovations for the benefit of our residents, businesses and staff. Most importantly, consolidating systems and data onto a modern, flexible platform, we can provide a single customer view with a seamless experience for the resident no matter which service they require or department they talk to.”
In the first phase, Arcus Global will implement its Local Government Platform to replace multiple disparate legacy systems and de-supported infrastructure. This will provide the Council’s citizens and businesses a new multi-channel customer engagement system enabling end to end customer self-service. An internal self-service staff hub and fully featured back office applications for business areas such as planning, building control, land charges, gazetteer, environmental health and licensing, will also be introduced. All of this will be on a single platform with one data layer which will be used by all Council staff, customers and partners.
In the short term remaining legacy back office systems will be integrated via an open API layer. They will be moved onto the platform and switched off where it makes sound commercial sense to do so.
Makin continued: “At times our customer contact team could have up to 8 or 9 applications open at any one time to resolve customer enquiries. However, we do not simply require a CRM and online account – we appreciate the importance of addressing the back-office systems too and Arcus allows us to provide a complete solution for a wide range of business functions on a single technology stack.
“The new platform will mean that as a Council we can continue to improve services for our citizens and businesses, allowing them to interact with us in the same way they do with private sector companies – offering access to end to end transactions how and when they want. By encouraging low level transactions through the online channel, it gives the customer more responsibility and the ability to self-serve and stay up to date rather than contacting the customer contact team. Our resources can then be put to better use and we can focus on the customers with greater needs.”
Cllr Rory Love, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Customers, Communications, and Digital Delivery, said: “We live in the age of the Digital Revolution. Our customers expect the same quality and convenience of service from us as they receive in other aspects of their lives. To meet their expectations and demands, we need to use the Digital Revolution to transform how the Council works and redesign public services around our residents.
“Our award-winning Council has already received recognition for its progress in embracing the Digital agenda. A wide range of services have been successfully moved online, with positive customer feedback and successes in managing demand. This partnership with Arcus Global takes us on the next stage of our exciting journey. An early ambition is a new ‘My Account’ feature for our customers, giving them a quick, convenient, and secure customer experience.”