Essex resets digital transformation with multimillion pound programme of work

Written by Sam Trendall on 19 July 2018 in News

Authority awards a nine-month deal worth £1.9m to Socitm Advisory and launches £2m tender for a longer-term transformation partner


Essex County Council (ECC) is to invest up to £4m over the next two years to support digital transformation work across two supplier engagements.

The authority has awarded a nine-month contract worth £1.925m to Socitm Advisory – a public sector IT consultancy that is a sister company of industry body Socitm. The deal will see the firm provide “multi-disciplinary teams” to help Essex in designing, implementing, and delivering digital services. 

According to Socitm Advisory, the work undertaken over the coming months will be “aimed at transforming ECC’s technology services function and developing its technical portfolio of change”. 

Last year the council published and began rolling out its Smart Essex strategy, which laid out plans for the use of digital services and smart-city technology in a number of service areas. But it appears that this strategy is being ditched, with Socitm Advisory claiming that it would be working to “move the council from a previous programme of technology modernisation, which was falling short of expectations and in need of redesign”.

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Jason Kitcat, executive director of corporate development at Essex County Council, said: “Socitm Advisory has delivered at pace with strong, credible, grounded advice to help us reimagine our technology services function. Through Socitm, we’ve been able to access highly experienced experts to assist us with every aspect of our roadmap as well as providing excellent interim leadership at short notice during a restructure.”

In addition to the deal awarded to Socitm, ECC this week published a contract notice on the Digital Marketplace seeking a “service design partner” for the next two years. 

The deal – worth up to £2m in total – will be aimed at delivering three core goals, the first of which is to “provide senior management advisory and strategic support”. The second aim of the engagement will be to “embed user-centred design capabilities and an agile mindset across the organisation”, and the third will be to support service design and help “lay the foundations for sustainable digital services”.

The contract will be composed of two elements. The first, worth up to £500,000 over a period of 24 months, will be composed of “core strategic support, capability building, service design support and scoping of service design statements of work”. 

These statements of work – covering the discovery, alpha, and beta stages of service design – will be delivered as part of the second element, which could be worth £1.5m over the next two years. Although the notice warned that “this is not guaranteed work, and each statement of work may be subject to additional internal governance and approval processes”.

“We are looking to partner with an expert in service design and strategy for the internet age, to support, challenge and lead the work of the council’s teams, deliver efficiencies and embed user-centred design and an agile mindset as ‘the way we do things’ across the organisation,” the council said.

“Our senior leadership teams require strategic support to help identify and explore transformational opportunities, and to move away from traditional delivery approaches and reliance on legacy systems. A programme of practical capability development is required to shift the mindset, capabilities and delivery models of ECC teams towards being more citizen-focussed, and to embed these new approaches and an awareness of the Government Service Standards as ‘the way we work’.”

Work will primarily take place at the council’s headquarters in Chelmsford. Bids are open until the end of the month, with three bidders likely to be evaluated. Work is scheduled to begin on 3 September.

About the author

Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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