Councils learn from experience

Anew Socitm survey reveals which applications local authorities are using and how well they perform

Anew Socitm survey reveals which applications local authorities are using and how well they perform

Anew survey by the Society of Information Technology Management (Socitm) of the application software being used by local authorities throughout the UK could make it easier for IT managers to evaluate products, writes Caroline Davis.

The survey was carried out earlier this year and is based on responses from nearly half the local authorities in the UK. It covers use of and satisfaction with applications from 50 different function areas, including housing, revenues, environmental health, education, call centre and general management. The survey also contains details of the age of current applications and their proposed replacement dates and has a directory of over 100 major suppliers.

Brian Westcott, editor of the report, said, "This document should help ICT managers and their staff when they come to replace software and want to know what is around. It may be useful in enabling them to contact others using the same products to compare notes."

The survey showed that the trend for local authorities to move away from mainframes is continuing, although many organisations are unable to move as quickly as they would like because they are locked into four to five year lease agreements.

"As authorities move to other hardware platforms, they are implementing new systems," said Westcott. "In the financial area, the systems still tend to run on mainframes, but many of these are now marked to be replaced." Replacement hardware platforms tend to be Unix, or a client-server architecture.

Westcott said that the trend was to move away from the in-house systems of the past to save both time and money. However, he added that there are quite a lot of functions which are still run in-house. For example, out of 200 general ledger systems, 32 are running in-house.

A report from Socitm in May advised IT managers to embrace Web technology and reshape the organisation to do business online. They must also look for opportunities to lead the organisation's innovation strategy rather than produce the IT component of someone else's strategy, the report said. It warned that IT managers should not fight outsourcing but use it selectively and remain in control.

Socitm's Survey of Application Software for Locally Delivered Public Services can be ordered from the website

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