IT and Digital Strategy 2022
The Assistant Director (Transformation & IT) and Service Manager (Digital & IT) informed members of the new Information Technology and Digital Strategy covering the period 2022-2026 and highlighted the following:
· The two strategies were separate but due to the fact they compliment each other it was decided to bring the two together.
· The overall aim of the strategy is to provide a clear direction of travel for the IT and Digital Teams in order to deliver the technology platforms required by the council.
· This direction is articulated via a number of Ambitions, Principles and Objectives.
· The contents of the strategy has taken into account the changes in working environment brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, increasing expectation by our customers for technology focussed services, the impacts of our activity on climate change, improving resilience to a cyber-attack, and the move to new office accommodation in 2025/2026.
· During the life of the strategy, investment in IT and Digital will be required. Individual business cases will be built which will describe the changes in greater detail and identify sources of funding, any impacts on the Medium Term Financial Plan and IT Reserve.
· Provision of Member equipment will be reviewed ready for the Member induction in May 2023.
· A training session for Members on the IT and Digital Strategy has been arranged for 28 June 2022.
· The portfolio holder for Digital and IT is the Leader of the Executive. The monitoring and reporting of our progress against the strategy will be regularly taken through the Corporate Management Team to the Leader of the Executive, Cabinet, and other committees where there is an overlap of interest (such as the Finance and Audit Committee, and the Performance and Administration Committee).
· In addition to this, council members will be briefed on the progress of implementing the strategy via annual training sessions.
Following questions from the Committee, The Assistant Director (Transformation & IT) and Service Manager (Digital & IT) highlighted the following:
· Hybrid meetings are referenced in the strategy, and this is the direction of travel that the Council is moving towards.
· The strategy does touch on climate change and the net zero target of 2030 but the majority of information on this matter is being captured separately under the Climate Change Delivery Plan. The Assistant Director (Transformation & IT) noted the suggestion by the Chair that it should be refenced in the strategy that the information on climate change is being captured elsewhere.
· The IT and Digital Strategy is not seeking to replace access to officers / services by non-digital means. Working remotely is subject to the needs of the business of the Council. The new telephony platform can be accessed externally or internally but departments still need adequate resources to answer the calls.
· The Council Tax rebate is quicker to process for residents who already have a direct debit set up with the Council; the process takes a little longer for those who are not already set up on the system as bank details need to be obtained and checks need to be made.
· Technology has really increased staffs remote working capabilities. The Council has also got a lot better visibility on the productivity of staff; evidence is based on performance.
· The Chair suggested that the impact of working from home might be a good scrutiny topic review.
· Member IT equipment (iPads) were issued to cover the lifespan of the current administration; this will be reviewed going forward with the aim to provide a wider range of technology for Members to choose from. This matter will be discussed further at the training session on 28 June 2022 and at future sessions ahead of the May Election.
· The Council understands people’s expectations and the importance of having access to online services when they want to use them. The team work hard to make the systems as accessible as possible.
· The Queen’s speech did not contain anything that would impact the delivery of the IT and Digital Strategy.
· Cyber preparedness is in the strategy and is an area that is constantly evolving to keep up with the threats. The Council has access to good support networks and receive very useful intelligence information, as well as liaising with Local Authorities who have been victims of cyber-attacks and understanding the key learning points from their experience. The Council regularly carry out training with staff on phishing attacks / simulations, password hygiene, Cyber security audits and scanning of systems.
· The Council has signed up to government funded cyber training for its IT staff.
· Discussions are underway with the Strategic Policy Manager on future Key Performance Indicators and these will be introduced for the next corporate monitoring period.
· It is hard to have an overall metric for ‘value for money’ with regard to the strategy but some areas could be captured in Key Performance Indicators.
· The strategy does not contain the use Artificial Intelligence; the Council uses data to aid understanding and make sure it is providing the best service.
Some Members of the Committee expressed their concern and frustration over the current IT provision for Councillors and made the point that it is essential that Members have the proper equipment to deal with casework.
Members also requested that residents’ levels of IT literacy be considered when moving forward with the strategy.
The Chair commended the good work the IT & Digital Teams have done around cyber security.
Resolved that the Committee noted the report on the IT and Digital Strategy 2022