To consider the report of the Strata Board.
A report was submitted by the Board and Strata Managers on the progress of key Strata projects and activities together with the change of plan for the roll out of the Global Desktop.
Since Christmas, the Global desktop roll out had progressed well with roll out completed at Teignbridge and positive feedback from Exeter, specifically around the ability to work flexibly. Training and refresher sessions had been completed at East Devon but with a revised roll out plan to be completed by the end of April.
Regarding Telephony - Single Supplier Consolidation, Virgin Media Broadband had revealed around 30 additional accounts belonging to Exeter City Council that were previously unknown. Early April was a likely date for the upgrade of Exeter’s DASS (analogue) circuits to Q931 (digital) which would bring connectivity at Exeter in line with East Devon and Teignbridge. Virgin and Nexus were talking regularly to migrate lines from the old technology, but compensation from Virgin would not be forthcoming.
53 members of Strata now possessed Skype. Extension numbers for East Devon and Teignbridge had been implemented but, due to line issues, Exeter’s was not expected to start until May\June. Rollout of Voicemail to Strata staff for testing and use would begin and Members were advised of the uses “Persistent Chat” could be put to including alerting Strata staff to faults and important information and facilitating group discussions and associated protocols. Decisions on the way Skype is used would rest with the individual Councils.
The migration of servers from the Teignbridge and East Devon datacentres had begun and, once complete, the rental of hardware at Teignbridge would cease and hardware from East Devon would be re-allocated to the secondary datacentre at Oakwood.
Strata had also completed its office move within Exeter.
Business as Usual
The Manager Programmes and Resources reported 102 scheduled projects including 26 planned convergence projects, 389 open Business Change Requests, 243 open Service Requests and 935 software products supported.
He advised that routine meetings were held with service users such as Planning, Building Control, Environmental Health etc. to see how Strata was performing for their services and detailed the process for assessing the viability of projects. The convergence process would rationalise these requests, all with business cases prepared by the service lead and evaluated by the respective senior Council teams - IT Requirements Board at Teignbridge, IT Requirements Board at Exeter and the Senior Management Team at East Devon, with subsequent monitoring and sign off by these groups when complete.
Security was another key issue and the three Councils annual re-certification to use the Government’s secure network was approaching - PSN CoCo compliance. It needed to be re-attained by the beginning of July 2017, with the process starting on the 20 March 2017 where an external specialist would review and test the shared Strata environment.
The Manager Compliance and Security reported that the Government’s intention was to provide an alternative secure email service to replace the PSN by the end of March 2017. To this end, Strata had implemented new secure email standards in preparation. However, Crown Commercial Services, the Government operator, had advised that no alternative would be provided in that timescale and it was likely that PSN would continue being provided by a commercial operator. Cost increases were anticipated.
Convergence would deliver on Strata’s three key objectives of cost savings, risk reduction and increasing capability to change. Some projects would offer opportunities for Council’s to increase efficiency although there was a possibility that Strata could incur costs above those in the approved business plan but could, nonetheless, result in bigger savings/transformation opportunities in the Councils.
A table was provided setting out some systems that had already being converged with business cases approved by the three Councils and progress had started on iTrent HR/Payroll system, Door Access and Time and attendance, Uniform suite – Planning, Building Control, Environmental Health, Estates and Licensing and Council websites. The table set out the target and progress for each project.
The Chair welcomed the format set out in the table, suggesting that this could be further developed and that, rather than progressing through a Review Group he acknowledged that agreement on the appropriate way forward could best be achieved in discussion with Laurence Whitlock, the incoming Chief Operating Officer when in post. He understood that Laurence was very familiar with such a style of report. He would be meeting him on 18 April 2017.
Strata Joint Scrutiny Committee noted:-
(1) the report; and
(2) that the Chair would meet with Laurence Whitlock on 18 April 2017 with the Strata Lead for Human Resources, discussions to cover performance management.