Our new office

Back in December we moved offices to the Future Business Centre in the North of Cambridge.

The Future Business Centre has been set up as an “enterprise hub that demonstrates the possibilities for combining good business practice with the business of doing good”.

We have more space, lots of concrete “feature walls” and views of Cambridge all around us.

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We are always looking for new talent to join our exciting business, if you feel you’ve got what it takes to hit the ground running in a fast paced start up environment then email your CV to careers@arcusglobal.com or visit http://www.arcusglobal.com/about-us/careers/

Posted in Company News

The fallacy of “national” systems

Merging Service / creating a “national” Software / Platform for Local Government.
There have been suggestions that some councils are just too small. You can see the whole discussion here:

I thought I would pull out some of the points I have made in the discussion, as I thought they were worth sharing:
In terms of merging services, it is a naive and dangerous fallacy to think that “national” systems are more efficient or cost less per organisation, per transaction or per individual.

While this seems logical, this has never (or almost never) happened in reality. There is a reason for it: once all demand is aggregated, there are only one or two suppliers on the planet that can do it, so they just give a very high price. The contract is very long term, so why would they ever improve? (What would be their motivation?), and most importantly, the system would be so complex and cumbersome that daily errors cost millions would simply be marginal and unnoticed.

So the price would probably go from 500k per council to several million.
The idea also fails intellectually: instead of standardising services and processes (so they can be delivered in the same way by many interchangeable, competing providers), you standardise the supplier, to deliver fragmented uneven and complex service. And if you think that this supplier would standardise services for you – why would they ever do this? They make more money without it, you cannot get rid of them, and even if you did, there is no one else in the world able to deliver the service.

This was a terrible mistake to get providers to deliver national programmes before services and processes are made standard. And if they ever become standard, the market will always be a better alternative as competition drives ruthless efficiency and improvement…
But isn’t the Private Sector doing this? Isn’t Santander running the same banking software in all of its branches?
Well, this is very different: for one, scale is the issue. Santander will not be anywhere near the size of Local Government, Nor each branch the size of each council (branches are 20 – 50 people max, sometime less)
They are also working for ONE company, so they are all on the same employment contracts, with the same policy, same pension etc…

Santander’s customers (the public) expect and receive the SAME service across the UK, and their banking needs are similar to one another. They also offer (even the largest private sector organisations) only tens of services (even less in one division of a corporate)

A District Council of 130 people may offer up to 1500 individual services. They have no choice – they have to offer them as legislation demands it.

This matters because it is then possible for private sector to solve it with one process across at least one country. This can never happen in Local Government. The needs of the public are very different. Rural Cumbria, vs central Manchester, vs Kensington and Chelsea will have completely different demographic, spend profile, needs and demands / priorities.

But even IF we ignore all of that, and create one process, forced nationally (being an average, everyone would have it (and it would be hated by everyone, as no one would get what they want).

What would then be the point of Local representation democratically, if the process would be the same, with no or limited ability to change it at a local level. This is true even for things like parking or food safety inspections – do you make a premium service that is fast (and charges the person £1 per use), or a cheap one (free) that is slow? etc…
If the democratic process is pointless and hollow with no power, then why participate – so it leads to erosion of democracy in general at the local level.

So it is not possible to make a national process with such complexity.
But doing so, would be solving the wrong problem. The problem is cost and lack of choice, NOT that the service is different from area to area.

As I said above, we should enforce interoperability and standards on systems – that way a market will emerge. Dis aggregate systems (so do the opposite – make the components smaller, NOT bigger). then the market will grow, it will be compliant to standards, and vibrant, forcing the price down.

Look at the internet for example:

HTML is a standard (an example of), and as long as your website is complaint, it will work, whoever the provider is, whatever it runs on. So the prices drop, choice is abundant, and consumers pay less.

Posted in Applications, ICT Strategy

It is officially Christmas at Arcus!

Christmas

Posted in Arcus Updates

Moving a Council to “Infrastructure Free” on a shoestring

One council created quite a storm at the recent Public Sector ICT event by announcing that they will soon be the country’s first, completely cloud based council. Rocco Labellarte, CIO at the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, has spent the last 12 months transitioning the council to Public Cloud based infrastructure. This was done at a cost of only £250,000 – about one third of the cost of data centre refresh.

Rocco said: “It really is possible to move to the cloud without having to outlay vast sums of money up-front. Our data storage costs have gone down to a tenth of what they were, from £1.2 million down to £120,000 per year, savings which more than cover the cost of the migration work, even in the first 6 months.

In addition to this, the council spent approximately £10,000 on 900 new mobile devices which look to save the council 60% on previous mobile bills, and allow browser based access to a number of key applications.

Cambridge based SME Arcus Global, kicked off the council’s journey to the cloud back in 2010, when they were asked to develop a five year ICT strategy. The strategy focused on future, scalable public cloud technology and was well ahead of its time, but it laid the groundwork for the council – 2011 / 12 were spent lining up the business case, understanding council data, systems and major risk areas. By 2012/13 most of the technologies underpinning the strategy became available in the UK, via the G-Cloud. RBWM have begun implementation in January 2013, and will complete its journey by March 2014.

Arcus Global have helped RBWM in their transition to cloud provider Amazon Web Services for its core infrastructure. Skills transfer and training of RBWM IT staff, was a key part of the decision to work with Arcus: Rocco explained that it is important to keep in-house expertise: “Not only does it save on costs in the longer term, but it allows us to be more flexible to future ICT demands. Plus, it means that we are in a better place to ensure we are getting the best service possible from our cloud providers.”

RBWM is not stopping here. They are pursuing exciting new projects in areas of application consolidation and enterprise platform development, where their collaboration with Arcus continues. Watch this space!

Posted in Company News

Barriers to digital change in Local Government

The Department for Communities and Local Government recently conducted an extensive study into the use of digital technologies by those in Local Government. The report discovered that for 72.7% of authorities, legacy systems and infrastructure is the biggest barrier to developing their digital offerings.  This statistic was echoed by the suppliers taking part in the survey with 86.4% of suppliers saying that legacy systems were holding councils back.

The authorities clearly recognise that many of the systems on the market are outdated and actually hinder their digital efforts. However, as highlighted by suppliers in the survey, a staggering 77.3% of suppliers thought that inflexible procurement is hindering councils from picking new, more digitally focused suppliers.  The current procurement rules make it hard for those suppliers without an extensive list of previous experience to win contracts, but how are they to get that experience when they don’t win contracts? It is a vicious cycle that is severely hindering the technological advancement of council systems and infrastructure and something that needs to be addressed nationally.

One of the surprising findings of the survey is that a lack of buy in from senior management and members is no longer seen as an important barrier to progress. Seeing as they listed senior management buy-in as vital to successful digital services, it can only be concluded that this important level of buy-in has now been achieved in most organisations.

For more information on how Arcus Global can help your organisation become a leader in digital change and save money while improving services, please get in touch with us on 01223 911 841.

-          Lauren

 

Posted in Applications, Development, ICT Strategy

Tandridge revolutionises Building Control

A revolutionary new building control system is changing the way the Council does business in Tandridge.

Built in conjunction with Tandridge District Council and the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, Arcus Global’s Building Control software is helping Councils to make significant savings by transforming the way their Building Control Officers work.

Stuart Mitchenall, Head of Business Support at Tandridge District Council said: “Arcus Building Control can allow our Officers to be truly mobile. We now see how work that used to be restricted to the office can move to a quick and easy mobile solution.  Not only will this save us time and money, but will also provide our residents with a far superior service as well.”

The system was developed based on a world leading technology platform in full collaboration with Council partners, allowing the exact requirements of the end users to be built in. Serving Building Control Officers have guided every step of the product development, and have defined most of the features.

Alex Weinle, Senior Architect at Arcus Global said: ”It was great to be able to not just copy an existing system, but give the users what they really want and build a system  they desire and need, including features that are often lacking in other solutions. “

Featuring an inbuilt Inspection Officer Diary, Arcus Building Control allows easy routing from address to address for the most efficient service. Full application access from any mobile device such as smartphone or tablet, coupled with full history about that customer, gives Tandridge an unprecedented ability to make the right decisions on the spot.

Piers Mason, Chief Planning Officer at Tandridge said: “Anything that makes our day more efficient is good, but it is even better when you see how these efficiencies can then be passed on to our customers in the form of a better, more responsive service.  Delays to building inspections can cost our customers time and money, so anything we can do to make our service as quick and as efficient as possible is good news.”

Denis Kaminskiy, CEO of Arcus Global said: “The new Building Control system has all the features you would expect from a system of its kind, but simply put, vastly better and cheaper.  There is no need for any costly ICT infrastructure to support our product, which in turn means we can offer significant savings compared to other solutions.  These are difficult economic times for Councils and I am glad that we disrupt the existing market and  provide a better service at a reduced cost.”

Posted in Company News

The Future of Open Data in the Public Sector

Opening up central and local government is a key priority in pushing for greater transparency and accountability in the public sector. Francis Maude, Minister for Cabinet Office, has described data as ‘the 21st century’s new raw material’ which can drive choice, efficiency and value for money in public service delivery by empowering citizens to hold government to account through open data.

In June 2012, the government published their Open Data White Paper: Unleashing the Potential, which outlined how the government is putting data and transparency at the heart of public services. Building on this, in December 2012, the government announced £8 million of new investment running to 2015 to accelerate the benefits of open data and develop commercial opportunities.

More recently, in May 2013, the government commissioned Market Assessment of Public Sector Information (PSI), which aimed to improve access to data and promote economic growth, concluded that the wider economic benefits derived from PSI could amount to £5 billion. Additionally, in May 2013, The Government Response to Shakespeare Review of Public Sector Information was published, which sets out how the government are continuing to drive the open data agenda.

At a time when the G8 have signed the Open Data Charter, June 2013, exploring opportunities for growth, improving accountability and getting value from the wealth of information held by the public sector looks set to underpin government policy going forward.

One year on from the government’s Open Data White Paper: Unleashing the Potential, the Open Data Forum, taking place in London on the 24 October at the London College of Surgeons, will present delegates with the opportunity to discuss the government’s latest open data strategy. Delegates will explore, through hearing from leading experts and best practice case studies, how to unlock the benefits of open data while considering the security challenges associated with open data.

Arcus Global will be attending the event to demonstrate our Information Asset Register tool as well as discuss how our advisory services can help you with your data strategy or Information Management and Security.

We are able to offer a special discount code saving you 15% on the listed price.  Simply enter <OP13>  at the checkout to receive your discount.

For more information and tickets for the event please visit http://www.insidegovernment.co.uk/event-details/open-public-sector-data/203/#overview

Please do stop by for a quick demonstration of our software and don’t forget to pick up one of our free goodie bags.

 

Posted in Company News

Come along and meet us at the National Children and Adults Services Conference in Harrogate this October

Organised by the Local Government Association (LGA), Association of Directors of Social Services (ADASS) and Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS), this conference is regularly attended by more than 1,000 delegates.  The conference takes place from 16 – 18 October at the Harrogate International Centre.

It is widely recognised as the most important annual event of its kind for councillors, directors, senior officers, policymakers and service managers with responsibilities for children’s services, adult care and health in the statutory, voluntary and private sectors.

Speakers at this year’s conference include; Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of state for health, Rt Hon Norman Lamb, Minister of State for Care Services, Edward Timpson MP, Minister for Children and Families, Stephen Twigg MP, Shadow Secretary of state for Education and many more Members, Councillors, Directors and Heads of Services of Children, Adult and Health organisations from across the country.

Arcus Global will be attending the event to demonstrate our Indigo Children’s centre management software.  Designed from scratch in close partnership with the team at Buckinghamshire County Council, our Children’s Centre software is an intuitive end-to-end solution for Children’s Centre management including complete support for monitoring outcomes based accountability developed and with full flexibility for adaptation to local needs.

For more information on the event please visit http://www.local.gov.uk/web/national-children-and-adults-conference-2013/

Please do stop by for a quick demonstration of our software and don’t forget to pick up one of our free goodie bags, on stand Q5.

Posted in Company News

How software can help children, families, and carers, all at once

It is widely accepted that early education is of major importance to an individual in the long term, especially for those most disadvantaged. However, the process of educating a child is not limited to primary school, being also highly influenced by a home learning environment and quality pre-schooling. The UK Government is trying to raise awareness and taking action towards providing better quality early education years with programmes such as SureStart or Supporting Families in Foundation Years. Basically, these programmes provide around 15 hours of pre-schooling to children up to 5 years old, while channelling more attention and hours to most disadvantaged families.

When dealing with children this age, teachers and carers need to work cooperatively, having access to the same information regarding said children, their families, and known issues that would influence the way they deal with these children. This is where software is of foremost importance: an application with a friendly interface while providing real time information to every user involved with the same child saves time and money, while helping care services in becoming more effective.

In families with social problems such as mental health issues, poor parenting, social isolation, drug and alcohol abuse, among others, there is a special educational need in the household, usually provided by a local social carer. By having access to the feedback left by the child’s teacher in the software database, the social carer knows what to expect from a visit to the child’s home, deal better with any potential issue, and leave additional notes to other carers involved with the child.

In a sector desperately in need of change, children’s education can be highly improved with software solutions like Indigo. Indigo provides an integrated management application that is very easy to use, both in the case setting and on the move, and truly supports the care team, rather than hinder it. By improving the effectiveness of children social care, Indigo enables a more efficient delivery of early education and social care, with resulting economic, social, and emotional benefits, both to individuals, their families, and society as a whole.

- Nuno

Posted in Applications, Cloud Computing

Arcus and Quidgest Join Forces

Arcus Global and Quidgest have joined forces to form a new strategic partnership, focusing on bringing their innovative services to clients in the UK. The partnership will bring application development and services to the UK central and local government, as well as to the National Health Service.

With budget cuts and the pressing need to save money, many government institutions are already moving to a more flexible IT model. Arcus Global, has already extended its presence on the UK government’s G-Cloud III framework and will continue to focus on delivering cloud based services and products to their clients.

Arcus will be using Quidgest’s Genio, a platform for automatic code generation, to develop competitive and secure solutions based on the Business Impact Level guidelines.

Guillem Medina, Software Developer at Arcus says, “Genio allows us to implement the solution that our clients need, reducing development time and focusing on their business model, without having to worry about the programming code behind the product.”

About Quidgest

Quidgest is a consultancy and software engineering company, with headquarters in Lisbon, Portugal, implementing a disruptive strategy for the IT sector based on the creation and improvement of automatic code generation processes. Genio, Quidgest´s platform for automatic code generation, enables deployment in a wide range of platforms (such as server, cloud, desktop, mobile) and seamlessly integrates with a range of existing technologies. Over the last 25 years, Genio has been used to generate hundreds of tailor-made solutions for organizations in both public and private sector across the globe.

Posted in Company News