Northumberland County Council has saved an estimated £500,000 a year in IT costs by using customer relationship management software from Oracle.
The system has also helped to improve customer access to staff through a newly established contact centre and reduced transaction costs by making information more up to date and reliable for managers, suppliers and citizens.
The council decided to install Oracle's E-Business CRM software to cut the level of maintenance it has to carry out on its various legacy financial systems, which are more than 15 years old and from several suppliers.
The project began in June 2003 after the council had considered a number of procurement options. The implementation, part of the e-government agenda, was co-ordinated by a core team of officers each with responsibility for their area of expertise as well as a commitment to the overall project.
Team members then led groups with representatives from all activity areas to agree common procedures. These procedures were documented using training software from Oracle and were uploaded into the E-Business Suite help facility to provide bespoke assistance and links to modules.
Northumberland Council bought the Oracle E-Business Suite through GCat, the government procurement standard, and has been channeling the traditional back-office legacy systems through the CRM system since April.
Oracle provided IT and business expertise to the project and Sun Microsystems delivered the hardware to meet Northumberland's platform requirements. The Durham and Tees Audit Consortium reviewed the project monthly to ensure the team was achieving the stated objectives.
Northumberland Council has estimated that the CRM software is saving it £500,000 a year in computer running costs, and £575,000 will be saved from the finance directorate's staffing costs thanks to more efficient financial processing.
The central payroll team has been cut from from 26 to 14 staff (a 46% saving) and the accounts payable team has been halved to eight employees.
The project has made council services more available through a central contact centre, several local community access points and the provision of local community training.