The Electronic Journal of Information Systems Evaluation provides critical perspectives on topics relevant to Information Systems Evaluation, with an emphasis on the organisational and management implications
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Journal Article

IT Outsourcing in the Public Sector: Experiences Form Local Government  pp193-203

Michael Cox, Martyn Roberts, John Walton

© Sep 2011 Volume 14 Issue 2, ICIME 2011, Editor: Ken Grant, pp167 - 281

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Abstract

This paper examines the approach taken to Information Technology (IT) outsourcing in four local government councils in the UK. This is important because, whilst outsourcing has become a significant issue in the restructuring of organisations and is increasingly used within both the private and public sectors, there has been a lack of research into IT outsourcing in the public sector and particularly within local government. This paper provides an in‑depth study into how outsourcing is managed in local councils and how successful it has been; especially considering its sometimes controversial nature and the mixed press results it receives. To complete this study, interviews, containing both qualitative and quantitative questions, were conducted with key people at the four councils. These interviews examined the rationale for IT outsourcing. The findings from the interviews were then compared to the current literature on IT outsourcing to identify best practice. This research shows that, whilst cost savings remain important, councils focus on achieving best value when outsourcing IT rather than simply lowest cost. Indeed, it shows that whilst outsourcing can result in improved efficiency, councils that focus primarily on cost savings are often less successful. However, whilst the results revealed that IT outsourcing was more successful at councils who focused on long‑term strategic goals, the interviewees considered the strategic benefits of outsourcing less important than improving the service. The structured selection process that is imposed by legislation allows council managers to gain a better understanding of the outsourcing requirements and make informed decisions to achieve best value, however the need for cost efficiency can result in a more short‑term focus. The cost of the process and its inflexibility makes it more difficult for councils to focus on long‑term goals. The study concludes that, whilst councils recognise that both the contract and trust are important to ensure that outsourcing is successful, the culture of risk aversion in the public sector tends to lead to a play it safe mentality resulting in an overemphasis on the contract. This can lead to a short‑term focus that could make it difficult for the council and the provider to work together to meet long‑term goals. The councils were generally skeptical of developing partnerships; however, the research reveals that councils who focused predominantly on the contract were less successful than those who developed partnerships with their providers. The authors therefore recommend that, in order to achieve greater success, councils should develop partnerships and focus on best value and long‑term strategic goals when outsourcing IT.

 

Keywords: Information Technology, IT, Information Systems, IS, outsourcing, public sector, local government

 

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Journal Article

IT Outsourcing in the Public Sector Local Government: Experiences of the management and selection of IT service providers.  pp231-243

Michael Cox, Martyn Roberts, John Walton

© Nov 2012 Volume 15 Issue 3, ICIME, Editor: Dan Remenyi, pp230 - 287

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Abstract

Abstract: This paper looks at issues in Information Technology (IT) outsourcing in public sector local government in the UK, to determine how successful they have been and to establish any best practice. This is important because, whilst outsourcing has become a significant issue in the restructuring of organisations and is increasingly used within both the private and public sectors, there has been a lack of research into IT outsourcing in the public sector and particularly within local government. Thi s paper provides an in‑depth study into how outsourcing is managed in local councils and how successful it has been; especially considering its sometimes controversial nature and the mixed press results it receives. This paper focuses in particular on an analysis of the risks of IT outsourcing and the management of the outsourcing contract. The research shows that a thorough risk assessment must be completed before an outsourcing contract is agreed. Local government tends to adopt a very cautious approach to outsourcing based on risk minimisation. Hidden costs are one of the greatest risks when outsourcing. Hidden costs occur in selection, managing the contract, and making changes to the contract, all of which can offset any cost savings identified at the start of the outsourcing contract. The research shows that local councils recognise the importance of the contract and that it has the largest single impact on the success or failure of the outsourcing agreement. Having a well written contract is necessa ry to minimise the risks posed by outsourcing. However, the local government bodies recognised that it is impossible to cover every detail in the contract, particularly where needs are fluctuating, and that an element of trust is required to manage the co ntract successfully. The research suggests that contracts need to be strict enough to motivate the provider but should be realistic and achievable so that they do not inhibit the development of a working relationship. The paper also addresses issues in th e selection of outsourcing providers and more recent developments since the new UK governments austerity programme The study concludes that, whilst councils recognise that both the contract and trust are important to ensure that outsourcing is successful , the culture of risk aversion in the public sector tends to lead to a play it safe mentality resulting in an overemphasis on the contract. This can lead to a short‑term focus that could make it difficult for the council and the provider to work togethe r to meet long‑term goals. The councils were generally skeptical of developing partnerships; however, the research reveals that councils who focused predominantly on the contract were less successful than those who developed partnerships with their provid ers. The authors therefore recommend that, in order to achieve greater success, councils should develop partnerships and focus on best value and long‑term strategic goals when outsourcing IT.

 

Keywords: Keywords: Information Technology, IT, Information Systems, IS, outsourcing, public sector, local government

 

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Journal Article

The Role and Requisite Competencies of the Public Sector CIO: a Two‑sided Perspective  pp188-199

Val Hooper, Beverley Bunker

© Oct 2013 Volume 16 Issue 3, ICIME 2013, Editor: Nelson Leung, pp161 - 254

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Abstract

Abstract: A considerable body of research exists on the role, and desired capabilities and competencies of the CIO. However, most of these studies have been executed in large, private sector organizations. It seems that the challenges faced by public sect or CIOs are often very different to those in the private sector, and this might place different requirements on them in terms of knowledge and competence, as well as the roles they fulfil. To date, there has been little exploration into such requirements in public entities. To address this gap, exploratory research was conducted into the role and competency expectations of CIOs in the public sector, and into the impact of the public sector context. A dyadic approach, involving both CIOs and their business colleagues, was adopted in order to gain more meaningful insights. Semi‑structured interviews were conducted with both the CIO and the head of their main internal businessŽ partner of 17 local government organizations. The findings indicate that the CIO s and their business partners differ significantly in their views of required competencies. The business partners require a business knowledge and focus similar to theirs, and most manifest scant regard for the technical expertise necessary or the technic al requirements of the organization. IT is there to support them. The government environment often places more onerous constraints on CIOs than in the private sector, especially so in terms of reporting level; the ability to influence strategy; decision m aking flexibility; and resourcing. The findings from this research extend the application of the RBV and also provide greater understanding of the competencies and roles of the CIO. It also provides insights for recruiters of public service IT professiona ls and CIOs, human resources managers, as well as for providers of training programmes.

 

Keywords: Keywords: CIO, competency, knowledge, role, public sector, dyadic approach

 

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