Collaboration for success
In 2011, the Welsh Government and WLGA (Welsh Local Government Association) signed an agreement that would help local authorities improve their service delivery and cut costs. How? By encouraging the councils to work together across a range of services, from transportation and housing to IT. To aid this collaboration, the councils were divided into six regional areas, one of which is the North Wales region.
“The six North Wales heads of IT meet on a monthly basis,” says Alun Rees, IT Performance Engineer at Gwynedd Council. “They discuss common problems and share ideas. When we heard about the agreement, we soon realized there was a project that could benefit us all: finding a shared service management tool. It turned out that Flintshire County Council had outgrown their in-house system, and Wrexham’s system required major reconfiguration. “Together with Gwynedd Council, the three councils began looking for a tool they could standardize and all use.”
Our IT department uses TOPdesk for the internal support of around 2,500 callers, and just as many PCs.
Standard but customizable
Alun, now elected as Project Leader, and Sara Edwards, Regional Senior Project Manager, worked with representatives from each council. “The first step was to create a long list of mandatory and desired features,” says Alun. “We needed the tool to be ITIL-based, customizable, and economical for purchase.” Moreover, the councils required a customizable Self Service Desk. “Welsh is the official first language in this district. It would really improve our services if our customers could log a call in their own language,” Alun explains. “Once we completed our requirements, our council’s procurement team got the ball rolling.”
One of the shortlisted companies was TOPdesk. Already a TOPdesk customer, Alun could demonstrate the tool to the project team. “Our IT department uses TOPdesk for the internal support of around 2,500 callers, and just as many PCs. I am familiar with the way we process incidents and changes at Gwynedd, so I could easily explain the tool’s benefits to the other councils. They were very impressed with TOPdesk’s options and standardized modules, and decided it would be a good solution for collaboration.”
It's always good to share
After an intricate procurement process and presentations by the shortlisted companies, TOPdesk came out on top. “It really was a joint effort,” says Alun, “and I’m very pleased with the outcome. TOPdesk offers the functionality we need, for the best price. It ticked all the boxes, and we even got our Welsh Self Service Desk.”
The councils now share a single TOPdesk licence. This brings many advantages, as Alun elaborates: “The licence structure is very cost-effective: it lets us share both maintenance and licence costs. We also discussed the wishes of each council, which led to us purchasing the same modules to help standardize our processes. Although we won’t be using all the modules ourselves, we now have Problem Management, Survey module, Mobile module, Reservations and Stock & Order Management.”
Gwynedd was already a TOPdesk customer, meaning they only had to pay the upgrade fee for a new version. “Another great advantage,” says Alun. “We created a manual for our operators, so they know how to work with the new tool, and we also offer in-house training.” Alun is also positive about the additional features that TOPdesk 5 offers. “This version is really adjustable, and I love the overview screen with the Quick Launch Bar and Bookmark feature. The Plan Board is both snazzy and customizable – definitely worth the upgrade.”
Our customers are going to see a massive improvement in terms of self-service.
Collaboration for success
The councils are planning to go live very soon, and are excited about the prospects. “Our anticipated benefits from the implementation include improved customer communication and timely, relevant management reporting,” says Andy Berry, implementation manager at Wrexham Council. “We also have very high expectations,” says Shaun Richardson from Flintshire County Council, “and I believe TOPdesk will exceed them. Our customers are going to see a massive improvement in terms of self-service and we’ve already started the campaign to promote the changes that are coming soon.”
The collaboration has not only helped reduce costs, but also enabled the councils to share best practices. “Once we go live, we’re planning on visiting each other’s sites on a regular basis,” explains Alun. “Because we all use the same system, we can learn from each other and compare the way we work. For instance, we already noticed that Wrexham has an excellent CMDB. We are also comparing our categorization of calls, which will let us unify our categories and subcategories in TOPdesk.” Andy agrees. “The TOPdesk implementation has forced us to re-examine how we deal with changes, and helped us formalize our change management process”.
We are very pleased with the outcome of this regional project”, says Alun. “I also believe that this procurement process has helped us create a framework, which will eventually make it easier for other public sectors in Wales and England to purchase commodities. All in all, the North Wales Region is small enough to benefit from collaboration, but large enough to make a difference.
The project has been supported by the European Social Fund through the Welsh Government.