Ten local authorities have set up a forum to share their knowledge about Microsoft systems and applications they have written in Microsoft development environments.
The Shared Learning Group is chaired by London Borough of Newham's head of ICT, Richard Steel. The other nine councils in the group are Derby City, Kent County, Isle of Man, London Borough of Bromley, ham, Rotherham, Sunderland City, Wakefield and Warwick.
The councils plan to share IT tools with each other at no cost.
Projects they are working on include flexible and collaborative working, business integration, developing an information sharing index to help protect children, performance management, identity management and adapting technology to support elected councillors.
All 10 councils are using Microsoft technology to address business problems that other councils also experience. Once they have proven that a new application or a new way of working can be used by other local authorities, they plan to distribute what they have learned through Microsoft's Solution Sharing Network.
The group's member councils share the leadership of different projects.
Lewisham is the lead authority on the flexible and collaborative working project. It has equipped 500 staff with smartphones running Windows Mobile 5.0 and deployed Microsoft Sharepoint to 4,000 desktops
Lewisham used Sharepoint to set up My Site, which presents a personalised home page for every employee. It is launched when an employee logs on and presents each user with the most relevant information from the applications they access every day.
The council plans to develop Microsoft Web Parts to allow it to extend the information individual My Sites can access to include external systems.
Derby City Council is leading the business integration project. It is using Microsoft Biztalk 2006 to integrate its customer relationship management application - also from Microsoft - with its back-office systems.
Once a link between the CRM application and a back-office system has been proven to work, Derby plans to share the code and what it has learnt with other councils.