Costs satisfaction targets met; but ICT risks remain

UK local authority ICT managers have been successful in reducing costs while driving up user satisfaction, claims Socitm’s latest Benchmarking services summary for 2009.

The report says, however, that the reductions in cost – ICT spend per user – has dropped by 15.75 per cent in real terms since 2008, and by 19.3 per cent since 2006 – are also worrying. ‘Organisations should be maintaining or even increasing ICT spend at the current time’, it says, in order to achieve larger savings through ICT facilitated developments like pervasive flexible working, shared services, application of lean thinking, and e-procurement.

The reductions in spending suggest that top management teams do not take this view, or doubt the ability of ICT to deliver. The report says this could be explained by ‘weaknesses of ICT governance’, and in particular, the ‘reluctance’ of ICT leaders ‘to focus on benefits realisation’.

ICT managers must ensure that project appraisal and benefits realisation management place responsibility fairly’ the report adds; ‘Blaming ICT when a service fails to get the benefits it promised from a project saps the credibility of the ICT function, militates against investment in new ICT-enabled transformational projects’, and also ‘limits the organisation's ability to deliver savings without cutting front line services’.

ICT functions have made impressive improvements in service. The performance of outsourced services on user satisfaction, possibly based on a Cloud Computing model, is significantly worse than for those provided in-house, although outsourced services do score higher on incident resolution – possibly because payment often depends on it.

The report concludes that ICT functions must pay greater attention to project management rigour, and top management must attend to the governance regime within which the organisation selects and invests in ICT projects.

Benchmarking Services summary for 2009 is available to Socitm Insight subscribers for download; it can be purchased by non-subscribers for £195.

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