In Norway, as part of a wider drive to improve public services and increase cost-efficiency, some of the country’s 400-plus local and regional authorities are merging to create fewer, stronger bodies. When authorities merge, there can be challenging decisions to make around how the IT services should be organised.
East and West Agder counties will merge by 2020, and asked us to help decide on the best approach for them. Each region has been using a different model. East Agder sourced IT services via an external organisation, which it owned in partnership with municipalities in the region. West Agder had a more traditional in-house set-up.
We used our benchmarking tool to evaluate the two existing IT organisations. The tool holds cost and benefit data on IT services for 80 different Norwegian authorities. In fact, performance was similar. But we also ran interviews and workshops with more than 70 stakeholders from the two original regions to understand their priorities and ambitions.
We established the external shared IT organisation provided the best model for the new Agder authority. In particular, this organisation had already made progress in introducing software as a service and had a better set-up for rapidly digitising services. Developing this approach means eventually all municipalities and departments in the region will use the same software, making it easier to join up services for residents.
The evidence from our benchmarking and wide-ranging consultation helped everyone agree on the best course of action. And Adger is now ready to develop the IT services that will underpin efficient, joined-up services for residents in future.