Newham Borough Council slashes IT costs by £2m

The London Borough of Newham (LBN) has cut annual IT costs by £2m through moving to a shared services model, encouraging citizens to self-serve and renegotiating contracts with its main technology partners.

The London Borough of Newham (LBN) has cut annual IT costs by £2m through moving to a shared services model, encouraging citizens to self-serve and renegotiating contracts with its main technology partners.

LBN is operating a shared services partnership with neighbouring borough of Havering. The council has cut costs under the agreement by jointly procuring services and using just one set of IT consultants per project, rather than making redundancies, said ICT director Geoff Connell, speaking at a public sector roundtable organised by HP.

The council's main IT suppliers are HP, Microsoft and Cisco. As part of its cost-cutting agenda the council renegotiated its contract with HP to reduce costs by 20%. "HP was very reasonable and understood the environment we were in," said Connell. Overall, the council has cut its IT costs by 20% to £2m. It aims to reduce costs further by another 10%.

Connell said the ability to renegotiate with suppliers varies depending on the nature of the contract and how far it is through the agreement. Microsoft has also agreed to contract renegotiations.

A key part of its cost-cutting drive is move to digital by default services, having recently launched an online waste allocations site which is already processing 25% of all requests. Eventually it hopes this will lead to reallocating front office space and more of its citizens to self-serve. It is currently looking at 50 more services, which use a high proportion of face-to-face time, to deliver under this model.

The council also intends to allow staff to bring in their own equipment to improve efficiencies through remote working, and has already begun supporting iPads. It is currently working with human resources to see how it could accommodate staff bringing their own technology to work, said Connell. LBN's IT department currently supports 5,000 devices, but Connell expects this number to increase significantly.

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