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Lambeth maps future with cloud applications

Brian McKenna

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Published: 26 Jul 2022 10: 30

Lambeth Council has been modernising its business applications environment in the last few years, contrary to the background of cost pressure, Covid, and today the rising cost of living crisis.

With an extended history as a progressive borough, a good militant one, Lambeth includes a culturally diverse population that is economically beneath the cosh for several years. It has almost 330,000 inhabitants, is merely over 10 square miles in proportions, and was referred to as a landing place for lambs in the centre Ages, hence the name.

Hamant Bharadia, assistant director of finance at Lambeth Council, says it has learned to accomplish more with less, and, with regards to IT, has pursued a cloud strategy which involves Oracle and Microsoft technology.

Lambeth Council became the initial UK public sector body to look at Oracles suite of business applications in the cloud, in 2018.

Bharadia says, in a video on an Oracle website: We have been a 1bn business, with 3,000 staff providing 700-800 services to your businesses, residents and wider community. During the last 10 years, our funding has reduced by 50%, about 250m. However the demand for the services have not changed and contains are more complex.

The reason why for the proceed to the cloud were to truly have a simpler and easier solution, to possess nimble, anywhere, anytime access. That’s crucial for us.

Lambeth includes a long-standing relationship withOracle, and was among six London councils in a multi-year Oracle shared services partnership that were only available in 2012, and ran until March 2018.

Bharadia tells Computer Weekly that whenever it had been looking, in 2017, at moving its applications to the cloud, Oracle arrived before SAP with regards to breadth and depth of functionality, especially with regards to financials, while Workday was still in its infancy in those days. There is also continuity according of the prior joint customer relationship with another London councils, namely Barking and Dagenham, Brent, Lewisham, Havering and Croydon.

The reason why for the proceed to the cloud were to truly have a simpler and easier solution, to possess nimble, anywhere, anytime access. That’s crucial for us

Hamant Bharadia, Lambeth Council

Bharadia spent some time working for the council for 32 years, and recalls getting the ICL system, Lafis (Local Authority Financial Information System), along with the shared Oracle partnership. That [the latter] had its challenges getting everybody to consent to the right sort of format, specifications, processes. We managed it, nonetheless it found end of life.

At that time, wed already committed, being an organisation, our future lay in the cloud primarily. We couldnt justify occupying central London property to store databases. And another half concerning the cloud was about flexibility of working.

The intention was to lessen the councils property estate and obtain staff working flexibly, with a view that data could be accessible from anywhere.

The proceed to cloud

It started its cloud migration, in 2015-2016, with a proceed to Microsoft Office 365. All post makes a processing centre outside London, where it really is scanned and sent to council workers mailboxes digitally. Were attempting to reduce paper whenever you can, on the foundation that making just as much information as you possibly can online, designed for analytics and decision making, may be the way forward, says Bharadia.

We started considering our options in 2017. We knew we wanted cloud. In 2017, there wasnt much ERP [enterprise resource planning] in the cloud space. Oracle, with a few of their products, however, not with everything. Oracle Financials, yes, and theyd made good progress on items of HR.

Oracle arrived before SAP when it comes to breadth and depth of functionality, he says, while Workday was still perceived to be less mature. However, despite having Oracle, payroll had not been yet there in the cloud, so that it was the final module to be implemented, in-may 2018, while the rest went reside in March of this year.

Financial forecasting has improved for the council by virtue of the Oracle cloud applications for that. Previously, Bharadia says it had been a scenario of budget forecasting done on Excel spreadsheets, with plenty of files being shuffled round the organisation, plenty of meetings between accountants and budget holders. Desire to was for budget holders to possess sight of these budgets more routinely, also to have the ability to do their very own forecasts so they have control.

The self-service model the council has moved to is rolling out from around 20-30% of budget holders routinely updating their forecasts to similar to 70%. The finance team, of around 120 accountants, is currently liberated, he says, to activate sooner with budget holders, playing a far more advisory role regarding pursuits like procurement.

In the HR function, with an increase of self-service capabilities, the council has seen a 55% improvement in appraisal and performance reporting, allowing the HR team to allocate fewer resources to talk about a larger workload.

In your community of supply chain, the council has used the Oracle cloud Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) product to streamline its suppliers, reducing the amount of these by 19%.

One area that’s still evolving is recruitment. It had struggled with Oracles legacy Taleo product and is currently moving to Oracle Recruiting, that is portion of the suppliers Oracle Cloud HCM service. We were experiencing lots of incomplete applications, with people quitting halfway through. So, we were missing candidates, says Bharadia. From what we’ve seen, Oracle Recruiting cloud will be a lot more user-friendly.

Data analytics at Lambeth

Piecing together the Oracle implementation using its Microsoft estate, the council is aiming at a fresh vista of using data better to serve its residents. Section of which has involved creating a small data science team, which includes been focusing on activities such as for example identifying people especially susceptible to Covid-19, socially and economically, and also medically. Now, in an identical vein, it really is identifying people especially susceptible to the rising cost of living crisis.

Weve got all of this data in Oracle systems, weve got a housing system which has data, and we’ve a social care system which has data. So were now exploring better usage of data
Hamant Bharadia, Lambeth Council

Another piece were focusing on is data, says Bharadia. Weve got all of this data in Oracle systems, weve got a housing system which has data, and we’ve a social care system which has data. So, among the things were now exploring is way better usage of data.

We’ve a data analytics team internally, thats considering those connections. They’re using [Microsoft] PowerBI along with other cloud-based products to create together different datasets to focus on our services better.

This team has existed for about two years. They might have done this sort of work before, nonetheless it would, he says, took considerably longer.

Hybrid future

Another legacy of the Covid period may be the council won’t go back to previous degrees of office occupancy. What were saying to staff and managers is enter into our office buildings if youre likely to be collaborating, much less a matter of routine simply for the sake to do your entire day job.

It really is attempting to a ratio of six office desks for 10 people, and Bharadia says it could end up getting more collaborative spaces instead of individual desks.

Additionally it is freeing up work place for use by local businesses. Among our buildings is entirely predicated on that model, for new and emerging businesses locally, he adds. We also delivered lockdown support without dealing with plenty of extra staff. So, we were doing the vaccination centres, the meals hubs, the excess support to your residents through the period, by way of a mix of remote working plus some mobile working, where individuals were just on the market in vans delivering things, getting stuff done.

So, you’ll be able to have that hybrid style of working. Thats not saying its perfect. In either model, you will definitely get some those who are not 100% contributing. Nevertheless, you get that currently anyway, says Bharadia.

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