Epping Forest District Council

Enhancing The Security Of One Of The Most Prestigious Universities

Driving Digital Transformation by Implementing a Strategic Approach to a Council's Software Applications

Our client is a district council in West Essex, home to over 130,000 people and covering an area of 131 square miles, including Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Loughton, Ongar, and Waltham Abbey.

It is responsible for services that include collecting rubbish and recycling, housing, planning, council tax, benefits, business rates, elections, and licensing.

Epping Forest district is a mixture of rural and urban areas and is home to 55,000 ancient trees, more than any other site in the country.

The Challenge

In common with all local authorities, EFDC were under pressure to do more with less, which meant cutting expenditure whilst getting better results was essential to the way the council operated.

One of the challenges they faced, largely due to a historically siloed and tactical approach to service delivery, is the acquisition of over 150 software applications spanning multiple departments.  

Overtime the ICT department had lost track of these applications, including how many they had, what functions they served, who used them, and how they were hosted (on-prem or in the cloud). 

Furthermore, lack of investment had led to inconsistencies caused by customisation, many applications were obsolete, but were still being used, and lack of integration between applications meant accessing services was often inefficient and ineffective for local customers and businesses.

The council needed to adopt a more strategic approach to planning and managing its application ecosystem and turned to Intergence, a leading technology consultancy and IT-Managed services provider, for leadership, guidance, and support to define and document its Application Strategy.

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The Solution

Working alongside the ICT department, Intergence introduced a top-down, bottom-up approach to developing the council’s application strategy comprising of 4 structured steps: 


Step 1 - Guiding Principles and Initiative Mapping

The first step was to develop a set of guiding principles and to identify key strategic initiatives (planned and in-flight), which would have a significant impact on how the organisation would operate and therefore its application landscape.

Like many councils, one such initiative designed to improve the customer experience, was to create a single view of the customer, which would have a significant impact on the integration of systems and processes across multiple services and departments.

Additionally, the development of guiding principles, allowed the council to adopt a more strategic and consistent approach to decisions made regarding its existing and future software applications. Principles included customer focus, resilience, consumption model i.e., pay for what you use rather than own, strategic alignment and simplicity.


Step 2 – As-Is Assessment

The next step in the process was to define and document the current “As-Is” Council application landscape, integrations, and dependencies.

Key to this approach was building an application catalogue and spending time in the business gathering information about existing applications. This allowed the council to understand not only how many applications they used, but also their functionality, how they were hosted and if they supported the councils new strategic guiding principles.

Over 150 applications were documented across 35 different departments, with 60% hosted on-prem and less than 40% considered aligned to the council’s guiding principles. Additionally many applications were non-compliant, and a relatively high number were stored on computer systems locally, rather than over a network, which can be resource intensive and costly.

Step 3 – To-Be Assessment

The third step in the process was to propose and document the future “To-Be” application ecosystem.

To help with this analysis, we developed a weighted model, based on criteria such as hosting type, how well the application supported the councils new guiding principles, number of users and strategic initiative alignment. This allowed the council to make informed decisions about its applications and categorise into sets as candidates to either keep (As-Is), keep but change, retire or where further investigation would be needed.

A key finding from the To-Be analysis was that over two thirds of the council’s applications would over time need to be modified or retired in order to align strategically to the council’s future goals, priorities, and objectives. The analysis also identified the need for the council to re-engage with suppliers, to understand if they would be able to meet the council’s plans to save IT costs by migrating on-premises applications to the cloud.

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Step 4 – Gap Analysis

The final step in the process involved summarising the gaps and changes the council needed to make in order to move from the As-Is position to the future To-Be. 

Applications were grouped into high level initiatives, based on their categorisation, and then sequenced into a high-level plan (called roadmap) to deliver the strategy over the next two years. 

This step also involved estimating the benefits of implementing the application strategy, mostly achieved from cloud migration as a result of less computation, network and storage. Additional benefits were also identified and baselined to include operational efficiency, improved user experience, enhanced security, and reduced carbon footprint.

The Impact

All of the findings from the application strategy including targeted benefits were documented, and used as input to a business case, which was formally approved by the council.

EFDC are now in its second year of executing the strategy, have reduced its portfolio by 30%, and migrated 50% of on-premises applications to the cloud, resulting in significant operating cost savings.

Additionally, by adopting a strategic approach to its application landscape, the council has been able to accelerate its plans for digital transformation, including establishing a single customer view across multiple departments and streamline operations, by reducing wasted effort on stand-alone tactical application initiatives.

Most importantly, it has provided the council with the opportunity to do more with less and, deliver the quality of services customers expect and deserve now and into the future.

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