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Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council

"Although we have many accreditations already, the ITDA gave us an objective assessment and impartial appraisal of where we stand across all service departments"

BBC's Declan Curry and NCC's Steve Markwell present Norman Crawford and Julie Hayes of Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council with their Accreditation Certificate

Accredited IT Department

Tameside MBC (TMBC) is one of ten metropolitan boroughs that comprise Greater Manchester and serves approximately 215,000 citizens. The 100 strong ICT Service is headed up by Norman Crawford, Assistant Executive Director - ICT Services, and is kept busy providing support to over 3,500 desktops, and delivering a full service portfolio including providing IT and pedagogical support to 99 schools (TMBC are past Becta Award Winners and accredited by Naace in all four areas), delivering strategic solutions across the organisation, providing support to home and mobile workers, contributing to initiatives such as Digital Tameside and the Tameside Strategic Partnership as well as running the borough’s telephone system!

Norman is supported by his deputy Julie Hayes, Service Unit Manager who heads up the Development, Technical and Support Services Department, which is made up of the service desk, application support, desktop support and installations, systems development, network and server teams as well as the technical and application support teams for schools.

One thing that Norman and Julie have in common is a passion to work differently, using new approaches to technology deployment, and new technologies to deliver effective solutions for citizens and users – all within or below the Borough’s budget. Norman and the team are now refreshing the Borough’s ICT strategy to deliver increased value to the citizens and to the Council.

As Norman says, “We are heavily focused on our customers’ needs and aware that successful technology deployment isn’t just about giving staff IT kit. We are planning a lot of change through our Working Differently programme and need to win over hearts and minds in order for the end result to be positive. New initiatives include; more home and mobile working, implementing electronic document and records management, moving to a managed service including a refresh of most of the hardware estate over the next three years and the deployment of the SharePoint collaboration tool among other things”.

With so much going on it is no surprise that Tameside became interested in the NCC’s IT Department Accreditation Scheme (ITDA). Julie commented, “Although we have many accreditations already, especially in the educational field, we lacked an objective assessment of how our ICT Service was doing as a whole. The ITDA has provided us with an impartial appraisal of where we stand across all of the service lines. We passed which was great news, but the ITDA also highlighted some areas where greater alignment to best practice will help us. This is especially useful as we are now refreshing our Service Excellence Strategy and need to establish priorities for investment. Sometimes, internally, it is difficult to see the wood for the trees, but the ITDA has given us objective clarity.”

“We found the accreditation scheme extremely useful as it enabled us to review our approach and processes in a structured way. In particular, we have adopted ITIL across the department and the ITDA has helped us validate our approach to service management,” added Julie.

Both found the actual assessment fairly gruelling, but felt that the accreditation process was well structured and extremely valuable. “The Orientation Visit was a great way to start the accreditation, and enabled us to fully understand what evidence we needed to provide. The structured format used for gathering evidence and during the assessment visit meant that only a day was needed for the assessor to gather evidence in order to make his recommendation. Although we needed to back up our claims, the ITDA isn’t about reams of paper and weeks of assessment, it was a team effort with all managers contributing to the evidence and getting involved on the assessment day. They all found the process valuable as it allowed them to see where improvements could be made but more importantly they saw how well we are doing.”

Norman identified another benefit of the ITDA, “There is nothing like external endorsement to motivate the internal team, and the Action Plan delivered as part of the ITDA process gives everybody something positive to focus on and stimulates discussion on topics that are very important, but often get lost in day-to-day operations”.

“Overall I recommend others to go through the ITDA, it’s a fantastic endorsement of what your team does well, and a route map to improvement.”

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