(By Anthony Miller). Local government shared services is real, it seems. Hartlepool Borough Council (HBC) has just awarded an £840K contract to supply, implement and support an integrated payroll/HR system to North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC). The spec. made it clear that HBC preferred a local government shared services solution.
I spoke to John Burrows, NYCC's Assistant Director - Central Finance, who told me that HBC is not the first council in their purview to whom they offer this service. In fact four of the seven DC’s in North Yorkshire use NYCC’s Northgate/Arinso system too. Northgate happens to run HBC’s infrastructure, but the Council did not want to take on the implementation of a new payroll/HR system itself. As a result Northgate threw its hat into the ring as a subcontractor on NYCCs bid. Isn’t it great when a customer is also a channel?
Note that this is not a BPO service – NYCC only provides the facilities, implementation and support; in other words, frontline payroll and HR operations remain with HBC whereas NYCC provides a full payroll service for the four DCs. For just this reason we keep a healthy scepticism to what extent shared services BPO will really take off in the public sector given the vested interest public bodies have in local employment and revenue generation. Back-office functions seem a less sensitive issue, and so we’d expect to see more IT service-led council-council collaborations like this in future.