Department of Health - Open Service

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A genuine shared service approach to IT provision using leading edge, virtualised technology

In early 2012, the Department of Health (DH) took the bold decision to develop a true shared service environment to deliver high quality, agile and effective digital ICT services for use by the 9500 personnel within the Department and its key agencies.

As with all public sector bodies, DH faced challenges around achieving cost-efficiency, productivity, improved levels of IT service and improved collaboration; all with a constrained budget.

When their existing IT outsourcing contract came up for renewal in 2011, business and IT leadership decided to move in a new direction in order to make a performance breakthrough. Their aim was to deliver a flexible, agile and providing a modern desktop service, including enhanced, secure home and mobile working. This led to the development of a standardised, cloud-based solution, allowing DH to purchase virtualised components on a consumption-based, pay as you go approach.

Bob Armstrong (Head of IT Futures and Shared Services) is clear about how the modernised approach is changing operational realities: “We are able to operate much more as an integrated team: people from different agencies can use the same instant messaging platform, can make appointments by checking each other’s diaries and can even log on either wirelessly or through a wired network in any of the our buildings. That was simply unthinkable in the past.”

The Open Service project has realised many positive outcomes for DH. All main performance targets have been over-achieved by 30 per cent, significant cost savings of around 50 per cent have been made and the service is now being used by a wide range of agencies on a shared service basis. In addition, the recent review by the UK Government’s Cabinet Office Major Projects Authority (MPA) has resulted in an overall Green status and one of the most positive reports issued by the MPA in recent years – a fantastic success.

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