Mission accomplished

The NeSDS programme which the London Borough of Havering has led for the past two years has been one of the most successful to come out of the DCLG funded e-government programme. We are very proud of what has been achieved.

The 10 e-standards covering a variety of service areas - including ICT and customer services - have become an established part of local government best practice and are an example of what can achieved when we work together. Over 200 councils and 59 professional bodies participated in their creation. Over 7,000 copies were downloaded during the final public consultation in December 2005 and over 230 councils are now using them.
Now that the process is complete we are happy to announce that the NeSDS
e-standards will be taken and maintained by the following partner organisations: LGEM (Local Government East Midlands) for the Customer Service e-standards; SOCITM (Society of Information Technology Management) for ICT; and the local government’s esd-toolkit for the remaining set of 8 eStandards.

Improving customer service
Janet Ward, chief executive of the Local Government of East Midlands said of the customer services eStandards: “The work we have done over the last two years, both regionally and nationally, has set the foundation for this development. Here in the East Midlands we now have Customer Service Networks in each of our five counties, and a Regional Transformational Government Network. We also run a range of events and training courses for local authority employees working in customer service, programme, project and change management and the Transformational agenda generally, our aim being to encourage corporate learning, personal development, networking and the exchange of good practice.
“We see the Customer Service Standard as an ideal benchmarking tool and as the foundation for authorities’ Customer Service Vision, based on which they can work towards transforming their authorities. The strength of the Standard is that it has been developed by local authorities for local authorities and is applicable to all types of authority.
“We will also be ensuring that the Standard features regularly on the agenda of the National Customer Service Network which we run and is linked to the Region’s Improvement Strategy priorities.”
Mark Brett of SOCITM discussed their adoption of the ICT eStandards: “Over the past four years, a number of products have emerged from various DCLG funded National Projects. One significant deliverable was the National eService Delivery Standard for ICT. SOCITM and its members were involved in the original programme which led to the production of the ICT standard.
“SOCITM has always wholly supported the production and use of standards across the range of ICT disciplines; we are therefore delighted to be taking over the custodianship of the NeSDS (ICT) standard. The Standard provides a maturity framework for the management of ICT based on best practice models and is seen as complementary to the existing SOCITM Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which are now well established with local authorities. The SOCITM KPIs have been used by hundreds of authorities for benchmarking exercises through SOCITM Consulting and as a source of data for SOCITM Insight research publications. The KPIs are used to inform continuous improvement programmes; the ICT Service Delivery Standard adds another tool that can support ICT managers in delivering improved services.
“During 2007, we will be reviewing the current ICT Service Delivery Standard through a consultation process to inform the production of version 2, which will be available from April 2008. The present version of the standard will continue to reside on the esd-toolkit site. The standard will also be downloadable from the SOCITM website. A discussion forum has been created on the SOCITM GovX collaboration site in support of its adoption and further development.”

Ongoing cultivation
Rosi Sommerville of the local government’s esd-toolkit concurred: “Now is a good time for the local authority and public sector community to take over the ongoing cultivation and propagation of the standards and philosophy that have made up the NeSDS programme.
“With its extensive body of local government and public sector membership, and an array of collaborative working tools and resources, the esd-toolkit community looks forward to enabling this next phase in the implementation of service delivery standards by building on the terrific work done by the innovative local authorities that developed this practical approach to real improvement.
“To facilitate this next phase in the development of the standards, the website, guidance, self-assessment and benchmarking functionality have now officially been handed over to local government’s esd-toolkit, who have agreed to act in the role of custodians for the programme and the broader community and IDeA have taken on the responsibility of managing the IPR on behalf of the local authority steering group.
“It is hoped that the voluntary adoption of these deliberately challenging targets will continue to increase across the public sector, helping forward-looking local authorities and other public sector organisations to objectively assess and understand their level of service delivery, citizen centric orientation, and strategic development.
“At the same time it is important to stress that the standards developed so far are organic and evolving constructions that need to be nurtured for them to continue to grow and mature, both in the development of new standards and the refinement of those already created. As such the NeSDS represent a strategic opportunity for local authorities and the broader public sector to shape and develop not only the standards, but with them the very definition of best practice in service delivery for years to come.”

Further development
Havering has enjoyed leading the programme over the past two years and I am happy that we have been able to hand them over to partners who will continue to develop them into the future.
Overall the NeSDS programme has been a fascinating journey and we would like to thank all those who took part. I believe the cooperation and skill sharing that the programme produced bodes well for the future of creating shared services and visions between councils. A great result for all concerned.

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