The ICT Strategy was agreed at Cabinet on 15th April, and although our focus has been on the technology response to Covid-19, progress on some of the key themes has been made.
A decision was taken by the Executive Management Team to pause all restructures across the Council for a period of three months; that pause recently came to an end and ringfenced employees have been invited to apply for Team Manager roles, as the first phase of the restructure.
The internal customer facing module of HOTH (our service desk software) recently went live, following positive feedback from our pilot group. Further development of the reporting tool and other modules that will be used within ICT will continue.
There is a separate plan for the ICT actions and milestones for the Accommodation Programme; which are currently on track. The main one being the procurement of the audio/visual equipment for the Civic Office post refurbishment. An organisation called Symity have won the tender bid from a scoring process point of view and once a final quotation is agreed a report will go to our PFH for the contract to hopefully be awarded.
Earlier in the year we identified the need to have an ICT disaster recovery solution off site. A contract was awarded to a supplier who is providing a cloud based solution and all of our agreed virtual machines/servers are now copied into that cloud solution, meaning as of 21st June we were in a position to fail over if we needed to. The final element of training for the restoration process and non-invasive testing is scheduled in for the last week of June.
The review and procurement of a new Housing and Asset Management ICT solution is being led by an external Consultant, who is working closely with Housing. Our ICT team are supporting on this as and where required.
Lastly, team are also working with an organisation called Methods, who have a background in ICT within the public sector, to develop our technology roadmap and the rest of the milestones for the key themes within the strategy.
The Service Director for Business Services, P Maginnis, introduced the short update on the ICT Strategy. She noted that the main theme of the strategy at present was in improving the basics. This had a twelve theme structure, ranging from the restructure of the service to supporting the customer strategy, members and the accommodation programme. It was wide ranging in the areas it covered. Covid had an impact on the delivery of some of the work as they had focused on enabling the employees to work from home. The team were making progress on their own restructure.
Their reporting tool, HOTH, went live last week. They were also supporting the accommodation project particularly the procurement of the audio visual equipment, the disaster recovery system and the new housing system.
Councillor Bassett asked if the committee could see the new, revised project plan and budget. He was advised that officers could circulate that. (Budget Breakdown attached).
Councillor Bassett then asked who we had awarded the off site disaster recovery contract to, were we looking at an instantaneous switch over and what were our requirements for this or were we just looking to have our data held off site. He was told that the Council was going to have its data held off site and the aim was to bring back critical services first, which had been worked out as part of a business continuity exercise. The company we have given the disaster recovery contract to was Modern Networks.
Councillor Bassett continued that with Covid, the way we used IT had changed totally. Would our strategy have to be changed or be upgraded if something worse happens or there was a second wave. He was told that because of the accommodation programme officers had already identified that we needed to support people to work from home. This past few months has shown that our IT works as we now have up to 400 people working from home and the IT was holding up nicely. We were also making use of Zoom and making full use of Teams.
Councillor Bassett asked that as we now all use the internet so much more, security needed to be revamped to check all was running smoothly, also were we monitoring our internet usage and are we maxing out there. He was told that this had not been raised as an issue by IT.
Councillor Dorrell asked about the resumption plan for the disaster recovery plan. He was told that was part of the contract and specifications. This would be made available to members separately.
Following the meeting, the following answers to questions raised were obtained:
Have we maxed out at any time as we’re using the internet significantly more? During the seeding process for the DR solution the Infrastructure Team carried out regular checks on our bandwidth capacity, and with those virtual machines being copied over and 400+ users working remotely we did not max out at any point.
What’s the resumption plan?
Should the failover plan need to kick in, users will be directed to connect to the DR environment within the cloud via our VPN, Watchguard; using the option ‘EFDC test’. The Infrastructure Team have access to the DR portal and have been trained in how to restore the virtual machines. A recent test showed full restoration of all copied virtual machines took approximately 5 hours and 45 minutes. The Leadership Team are collating a list of critical services, for ICT to focus on bringing up first; which will also be dependent on the time of year eg. elections, council tax annual billing etc.
What is the overarching plan for ICT Strategy?
Attached is the whole ICT Strategy stakeholder document the overarching plan is on page 8.
What is the budget for the ICT Strategy?
A budget of £1.2m has been allocated through the budget process for 2020-2022 to support the delivery of the Strategy. There will be a resource cost associated with every theme.
Both are 15 minutes
That the Committee noted the ICT update.