Hampshire County Council has started using a five-year service oriented architecture (SOA) deal it recently signed with IBM to deliver services in partnership with other public sector agencies.
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The council has two large-scale IT-enabled partnership arrangements in place already - a tie-up with the county's NHS trusts and an initiative between Hampshire's social services departments and the local police force to tackle youth offending.
"If you look at the way that local government is going, Whitehall is talking very much about setting objectives for a local area, rather than setting objectives for individual organisations," Hampshire County Council's principal IT consultant, Andrew Holdup, said. "IT can make that happen."
The deal struck with IBM gives Hampshire access to the supplier's Websphere, Tivoli and Lotus suites of applications.
The council said it decided to sign a partnering deal with IBM rather than buy the applications individually, because it needed the flexibility to bring in new applications quickly if central government asked it to deliver new services.
"We need to be in a position where a new initiative with a set of partners does not mean that we have to stop for a year to sort out the technology," said Holdup.
The council has already started using Websphere to integrate its call centre applications with the systems used by different back-office departments, such as finance, human resources and payroll.
Two departments are due to be integrated with the contact centre system, a newly purchased customer relationship management application from Lagan, by the end of 2007.
Hampshire's other major business transformation project to kick off this year is the deployment of a document management system to replace a proprietary system that the council felt failed to meet its business needs.
The council's environment department, which includes highways and planning, will be the first to go live with the new system during 2007.
Social care departments will get a records management system this year so that they can start using electronic social care records.
Other parts of Hampshire Council are also due to go live with document management over the next three years.
Holdup said, "We are seeing a massive increase in demand for services that is not followed by an increased willingness to pay council tax.
"We know SOA is necessary to save money, but the money will only be saved once people at different public sector agencies start talking to each other."
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