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Optimising ITSM for Local Authorities: Cutting Costs Without Compromising Quality

Alemba • 16 Feb 2024

Local authorities are vital public institutions responsible for providing essential services to communities. These services encompass everything from education and housing to waste management and public safety.

Local councils in the United Kingdom are facing unprecedented financial stress. Seven English councils have issued a Section 114 notice since 2020, with a reported 26 councils at risk of bankruptcy in the next two years.

Since 2008, local government has seen a significant decrease in funding from central government sources, which is further exacerbated by the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A growing need for services, in conjunction with an ageing population, has resulted in numerous local governments being burdened by significant fixed expenses like pensions and unalterable long-term contracts, constraining their ability to reshape budgets.

Furthermore, certain councils may find themselves pushed to the brink of financial insolvency due to historical equal rights pay claims.

Adding to these challenges, the rise in inflation and the necessity to increase wages to retain skilled professionals are driving operational costs to unsustainable levels.

Overall, the current financial landscape is likely the most challenging it has ever been for councils in the United Kingdom, as they grapple with declining revenue and increasing expenses.

These fiscal challenges have necessitated a closer examination of operational expenses, including IT Service Management (ITSM) solutions.

To effectively deliver vital services to their communities, councils rely heavily on IT infrastructure and services. Many councils have already invested in ITSM tools but are struggling with high costs, often associated with expensive vendors.

In times of financial stress, it is crucial that councils gain maximum value from their operations for their customers, while minimising the cost of service delivery.

This article explores how transitioning to a cost-effective ITSM solution can offer substantial benefits to local authorities under financial pressure. By considering cost-saving strategies without compromising on quality or functionality, councils can reallocate funds to critical services while maintaining efficient IT operations.

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Assessing the True Cost of your Current ITSM Tool

Begin your cost-saving efforts by considering the total cost of ownership (TCO) of your existing ITSM tool. Look beyond the initial licensing fees to identify additional costs, including re-implementation, additional training, maintenance, support, and any additional modules or features you may need as your organisation grows.

Regularly reassessing the TCO of your ITSM tool can help you make informed decisions about the value and cost-effectiveness of your ITSM software investment. This requires a comprehensive analysis of both visible and hidden costs.

Here are various aspects to consider:

  • Licensing and Subscription Fees: Identify the upfront licensing fees associated with the ITSM solution. This includes the cost of acquiring the software and any additional modules or features that may be necessary for your organisation. If your local authority's ITSM tool is cloud-based, also consider subscription fees. Cloud solutions often operate on a subscription model, and ongoing costs can accumulate over time. Evaluate the frequency of payments and any potential price increases.
  • Additional Implementation Costs: Assess the expenses related to further implementation of your existing ITSM solution. This includes costs associated with additional software installation or upgrades, configuration, data migration, and customisation to meet your organisation's specific requirements.
  • Training and Onboarding: Calculate the costs associated with training new team members on the ITSM tool. Consider both initial training and ongoing training for updates or new features. Training costs can include materials, instructor fees, and potential productivity losses during the learning curve.
  • Integration Expenses: Evaluate the costs of integrating the ITSM solution with existing IT infrastructure, tools, and applications. Integration may require additional development or third-party tools, contributing to the overall TCO.
  • Customisation and Development: If customisation or development is needed to tailor the ITSM solution to your organisation's unique processes, assess the associated costs. Customisation expenses may include hiring developers or engaging with the vendor's professional services.
  • Hidden Costs: Identify any hidden or unforeseen costs that may arise during the implementation or ongoing usage of the ITSM tool. These could include unexpected hardware requirements, additional support needs, or costs associated with resolving issues and bugs.
  • Maintenance and Support Fees: Understand the ongoing maintenance and support fees. Some ITSM tools require regular updates, patches, and maintenance to ensure optimal performance and security. Assess the costs associated with vendor support and whether premium support options are available.
  • Scalability Costs: Consider the scalability of the ITSM solution. Assess the costs associated with scaling up the solution, such as additional user licences, increased storage requirements, or enhanced performance capabilities.
  • Upgrades and Versioning: Evaluate the costs associated with upgrading to new versions of the ITSM tool. Some vendors may charge for major updates or version migrations, so consider these expenses in your TCO analysis.
  • Downtime and Productivity Loss: Factor in the potential costs of downtime during implementation, upgrades, or system outages. Consider the impact on productivity and user satisfaction.
  • Exit Costs: Assess any potential costs associated with migrating away from the ITSM solution in the future. This includes data extraction, transitioning to a new solution, and potential retraining of staff.

Tips for Choosing a Cost-Effective ITSM Solution

Below are some best practice suggestions for selecting a cost-effective ITSM tool for local authorities.

Implementation Costs

Consider the implementation cost of both external and internal resources for the deployment of a new ITSM solution.

Affordable Scalability

Consider your organisation's growth. Choose a tool that can scale with your business, allowing you to add users and features as needed. This prevents the need for frequent tool changes, which can be costly and time-consuming. Ensure scalability is affordable, allowing for expansion without causing financial strain.

Transparent Pricing Structures

Seek vendors with transparent pricing structures. Avoid hidden fees and unexpected costs by thoroughly understanding the terms, conditions, and potential add-on expenses associated with the ITSM tool.

Cloud vs. On-Premise

Evaluate the costs associated with cloud-based solutions versus on-premises options. Cloud solutions often have lower upfront costs and eliminate the need for hardware, but ongoing subscription fees can accumulate. Compare the total cost of ownership (TCO) for both options.

Integration Capabilities

Ensure that the chosen tool integrates seamlessly with your existing IT infrastructure. Integration capabilities can reduce the need for additional tools, saving both time and money in the long run.

ASM Self Service Portal

User-Friendly Interface

An intuitive and user-friendly interface can reduce training time and support costs. Ensure that the ITSM solution is easy for your team to use, minimizing the need for extensive training.

Support and Maintenance Costs

Consider ongoing support and maintenance costs. Some ITSM tools may have lower upfront costs but higher ongoing support fees. Evaluate the support options provided by the vendor.

Configuration and Flexibility

Assess the level of configuration and flexibility the ITSM tool offers. A tool that can easily be configured to adapt to your organisation's unique processes may save costs associated with workflow changes and costly development fees.

Automation and Workflow Efficiency

Evaluate the level of automation and workflow efficiency the ITSM tool can bring to your organisation. Automated processes can lead to time and cost savings by reducing manual intervention.

Documentation and Training Resources

Check if the vendor provides comprehensive documentation and training resources. Well-documented tools can facilitate self-service and reduce the need for costly external training.

Alemba Service Manager: The Ideal Solution for Local Authorities

Alemba Service Manager (ASM) is the ITSM tool of choice for a large number of UK-based local authorities, including North Yorkshire Police, Cheshire Constabulary, Liverpool City Council, Portsmouth City Council, Worcestershire County Council and Swansea Council.

ASM offers a flexible, low total cost of ownership ITSM solution, that allows local authorities to make cost savings without the need to compromise on functionality:

Streamlining Administrative Processes

  • Simplification: Alemba Service Manager’s no-code workflow engine simplifies the creation and management of workflows, allowing non-technical staff to design, implement, and modify processes without needing specialized IT skills. This can lead to faster deployment of services and more agile responses to changing requirements.
  • Automation of Routine Tasks: By automating routine administrative tasks, local authorities can reduce manual errors, save time, and free up staff to focus on more complex issues that require human intervention.

Enhancing Service Delivery

  • Improved Responsiveness: Automated workflows ensure that citizen requests, complaints, and queries are routed to the appropriate department or individual quickly, improving response times and enhancing citizen satisfaction.
  • Accessibility and Inclusion: ASM’s no-code platform facilitates the development of more accessible digital services, ensuring that all citizens, including those with disabilities, can easily interact with local authority services online.

Cost Efficiency

  • Reduced Development Costs: ASM’s no-code ITSM platform reduces the need for expensive, highly-skilled software development resources, lowering the cost of developing and maintaining digital services.
  • Operational Savings: By automating workflows, local authorities can achieve significant operational savings, reducing the time and resources spent on manual processes.

Data Management and Reporting

  • Improved Data Accuracy: ASM’s automated workflows with data validation reduce the likelihood of human error in data entry and processing, leading to more accurate data management.
  • Enhanced Reporting Capabilities: Alemba Service Manager includes built-in reporting and analytics tools, enabling local authorities to easily track performance, identify trends, and make data-driven decisions.

Agility and Scalability

  • Quick Adaptation to Legislative Changes: Alemba Service Manager allows local authorities to quickly adapt their workflows to comply with new legislation or policies, ensuring continued compliance with minimal disruption.
  • Scalability: As the needs of the community grow or change, Alemba Service Manager can easily scale up or adapt, supporting the development of new services or the expansion of existing ones without significant additional investment.

Citizen Engagement

  • Enhanced Communication Channels: By facilitating the easy creation of digital forms, surveys, and other communication tools, Alemba Service Manager can improve engagement with citizens, gathering valuable feedback and insights to inform policy and service improvements.

Collaboration Across Departments

  • Improved Interdepartmental Collaboration: Automated workflows can enhance collaboration between different departments within local authorities by ensuring smooth information flow and coordinated actions on projects or services that require multi-departmental involvement. ASM’s functionality can be extended to other service delivery departments, such as HR, Finance and Facilities.

Here’s how the wide range of functionality of Alemba Service Manager can add value and help save costs for your organisation:

Asset and Configuration Management

Effective asset and configuration management practices can optimize IT resources and minimize unnecessary costs. By maintaining an accurate inventory of hardware, software, and other IT assets, along with their configurations and relationships, you can improve asset utilization, reduce duplication, and make informed decisions regarding procurement, maintenance, and, retirement.

Service Catalogue Management

Developing and maintaining a service catalogue promotes transparency, streamlines service delivery, and optimises costs. A well-defined service catalogue helps users understand available services, associated costs, and service levels. By aligning service offerings with business needs and providing clear pricing information, you can enable users to make informed choices, avoid unnecessary expenses, and maximise value.

Collaboration and Communication

Effective collaboration and communication between IT teams, business stakeholders, and end users are essential for driving value for money. By understanding business needs, soliciting feedback, and fostering a culture of collaboration, you can align IT services with organizational goals and deliver maximum value,

Service Portfolio Management

Adopting a service portfolio management approach helps prioritize and align IT services with business objectives. By focusing on services that deliver the most value to the organization, you can optimize resource allocation and ensure that investments are aligned with business needs.

Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

Establishing SLAs with clear performance metrics and targets can help manage expectations and ensure that IT services meet business requirements. SLAs should be designed to strike a balance between service quality and cost, enabling efficient resource utilization while delivering value.

Continual Service Improvement (CSI)

Implementing CSI practices allows for ongoing assessment and optimization of IT services. By monitoring performance, gathering feedback, and identifying areas for improvement, you can drive efficiency and cost-effectiveness while enhancing service quality.

Demand Management

Understanding and managing demand for IT services is crucial in maximizing value for money. By analysing historical data, conducting capacity planning, and implementing demand management practices, you can optimize resource utilization and avoid unnecessary costs

IT Financial Management

Implementing sound financial management practices within ITSM enables better cost transparency and control. By establishing budgets, tracking expenses, conducting cost-benefit analyses, and implementing chargeback/showback mechanisms, you can optimize spending and demonstrate the value of IT services.

Supplier Management

Effective supplier management ensures that IT service providers deliver value for money. Regularly reviewing and evaluating vendor contracts, negotiating favourable terms, and monitoring supplier performance can help optimize costs and improve service quality.

Automation and Self-Service

Leveraging automation and self-service capabilities can reduce costs associated with manual tasks and empower end users to resolve issues independently. Implementing self-service portals, chatbots, and automated workflows can improve efficiency, reduce service desk workload, and drive value for money.

Knowledge Management

Building a robust knowledge management system helps capture and share knowledge across the organization. By documenting known errors, best practices, and solutions, vou can accelerate problem resolution, reduce downtime, and minimise costs associated with repeated incidents.

Risk Management

Proactively managing IT risks can help mitigate potential disruptions and associated costs. Conducting risk assessments, implementing preventive measures, and establishing business continuity plans can minimize the financial impact of IT incidents.

Find out how Alemba work with Local Government organisations, optimising their IT service management

Request a call back to find out how Alemba Service Manager can help your local authority