Good Governance - Effective use of IT

Written evidence submitted by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (IT 30)

SUMMARY

· This is a response from the IT Profession Delivery Management competency group to question 6

· IT professionalism is a key factor in the effective use of IT by Government

· There is significant value in a sustainable networking model for IT professionals

· The Delivery Management group has demonstrated a useful role in developing IT professionalism

· The value of links with the wider public sector and with other IT professional organisations has been observed

· It is important to build delivery management skills by encouraging breadth of skills and experience

· The Government IT Profession Skills Framework is an essential framework for mapping and developing new and relevant skills

· A cost neutral learning and development model can play a strategic part in fostering appropriate skills

· There is potential benefit in expanding the scope of the Delivery Management group

BACKGROUND

1. This is a response to the invitation to submit evidence, particularly with regard to question 6 ‘what skills does Government have and what are those it must develop in order to acquire IT capability?’

2. Government promotes IT professionalism through the Government IT Profession. Part of the IT Profession’s work over the past few years has been the development of a Government skills framework that categorises skills into a number of discrete areas in line with the Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA). A network of competency groups has been established to promote and develop IT professionalism within the respective skills areas and to help build capability, skills and identity.

3. Within the framework, the Delivery Management competency group is one of two senior competency groups led by a National Competency lead. The Lead is charged with developing the group by creating and building communities for sharing best practice, providing development opportunities and networking.

4. An early deliverable of the Delivery Management group was to agree a definition of the Delivery Management competency to provide a focus for professional development. A Delivery Manager’s role is defined as ‘working together with the other leaders of the organisation to deliver its goals through the effective and efficient identification, provision, implementation and operation of information based services and solutions to deliver change and meet business requirements.’

5. The Delivery Management group has attracted membership from senior IT Professionals in a number of Government departments and Local Government Authorities. Over the past four years it has built a sustainable, strong, invigorating and positive network through which it has delivered a number of benefits to its members and to the wider public sector IT Profession community.

6. The Delivery Management group acknowledges that much of public sector IT is delivered through the supplier community and this response is set in that context.

RESPONSE

7. Through regular face-to-face meetings and conference calls the group has been able to share knowledge, experience and skills across organisations. Group members agree that this contributes to their continuous professional development and provides a valuable return on the time investment required to attend group meetings and conference calls. Networking in this way is an important part of the development of professionals who are capable of delivering successful IT programmes.

8. The group has been able to promote good practice by organising events and conferences e.g. on Information Security and Cloud Computing using specialist speakers and taking advantage of practical workshops. Delegates across the public sector have been able to learn lessons from key programmes and projects – both successful and unsuccessful. Feedback from these events has been very positive.

9. The group has been able to review, discuss and provide feedback on items tabled at Government IT Profession Board meetings and in some cases subsequently presented to the CIO Council.

10. Socitm (Society of Information Technology Management) has invested much time and resource, especially in the past two years, in the promotion and development of IT professionalism. There has been valuable engagement between the Delivery Management group and Socitm on this and a formal and sustainable relationship has been established between the two groups. This demonstrates some success in partnering with other organisations with similar objectives working in this space.

11. Arising from early work carried out by the Delivery Management group was an assertion that a broad skill set is a requirement for a successful delivery manager. This has been reinforced and supported over time not least by the diverse membership of the group, including delivery managers from a range of Government departments, local government organisations of varying sizes and emergency services, namely police and fire. Networking across different organisations promotes a broad based skill set, which is key to successful delivery management.

12. As the ICT landscape continues to change, and as suppliers take more responsibility for the delivery of products and services, an important element of successful delivery management is the management of supplier relationships and contracts. There is a need to build intelligent customer clients that are skilled in both challenging and enhancing supplier propositions in such a way as to promote a strong partnership approach. This is further evidence of the need to develop a broad skills base.

13. The Government IT Profession Skills Framework (based on SFIA) is an essential framework upon which staff developmental route maps should be based. These will promote the acquisition of new and relevant skills to increase breadth of knowledge and experience. It will promote breadth as a positive career progression rather than (as is often currently the case) a ‘random accident’.

14. The diverse membership of the group has helped it to understand that skills associated with understanding different organisations are important to the delivery manager role and IT professionals more generally. Although the group has identified that many of the issues facing IT professionals in different organisations are the same, the scale and opportunities to address the issues can vary greatly. Government IT programmes often require co-operation between different agencies and the success of these can depend on the ability of a delivery manager to understand how such programmes are viewed by other (receiving) organisations.

15. The group has identified the importance of the role of Learning and Development sessions to promote, support and encourage personal and professional development. These can be provided internally within an organisation at relatively little cost and deliver value for money; however, the impact and value for money can potentially be increased by offering such resources across departmental and organisational boundaries. Often learning and development that is either presented by or focuses on the viewpoint of an external department or organisation can have greater impact. Acknowledging this, and taking advantage of its diverse membership, the Delivery Management group is developing a model to share learning and development across Departments and wider public sector organisations on a cost neutral basis. This potentially could be a model adopted more widely across Government and not limited to the IT profession.

16. Aligned to the learning and development model, the group has taken advantage of appropriate technologies e.g. teleconferencing and collaboration tools to minimise travel and maximise economy.

17. The Delivery Management group framework of face-to-face meetings and conference calls has proved successful and sustainable. It is acknowledged however, that although strategic it is still a drop in the ocean. If the group is to support Government more effectively, it must have significant impact in developing delivery managers across the public sector. It must build on its success to establish a network of local professional communities.

18. An important element of the wide reach of the Delivery Management group has been access to resources. Although pressed for time (along with other Government organisations) a common vision of what might be achieved for the greater good has enabled us to release resources between us, to the point of being able to offer resources to the central Government IT Profession team.

19. Aligned to resource sharing, the Delivery Management group has modelled a principle of cooperation without extra cost. Although the Cabinet Office has sponsored some of the conferences, on-going group activities do not demand specific or central funding.

20. Government's policy has been to outsource many of the IT skills required at lower levels, for example programme and project management skills, with the result that a feed-through of skills and talent from junior staff to more senior positions is not always available. This has made it difficult for Departments to 'grow their own' and in this situation the use of consultants has become a necessity to plug the resulting skills gap. The Delivery Management group supports the conclusions of the report of the House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts ‘Central government’s use of consultants and interims’ (Twelfth Report of Session 2010-12). The group believes that the development of competent delivery managers and more junior staff will enable Government to reduce its reliance on consultants and interims.

January 2011