Navigating The Choppy Waters of Legacy I.T Contracts

Author: Martin Bradbury

Martin Bradbury
March 27, 2024

The financial challenges faced by our local authorities that are so widely reported in the press are truly daunting. As stewards of public funds, it’s imperative that they be empowered financially and regulatory to tackle these challenges head-on to ensure the continued prosperity and well-being of our communities and those who live in them.

Let’s look at the numbers. The combined debt level of all our local authorities is £122 billion. That’s nearly £1900 for every UK citizen. This paints a stark picture of the financial strain that they are under. It’s a daunting figure, one that underscores the urgency of finding sustainable solutions to alleviate this burden.

An untold, but significant contributing factor to this financial strain is the legacy I.T contracts that were signed in the 1990s and still exist today. These line-of-business software contracts, with their annual indexation increases, and expensive re-contracting charges have led to ballooning costs and significant strain on already tight budgets. It’s clear that we need to reassess these contracts and explore more cost-effective SaaS alternatives that better serve our communities and provide the technology our council officers need to be effective.

Another pressing issue is the outdated software infrastructure prevalent in many local authority systems. Much of this legacy line of business software is over 40 years old, hosted on premise at council data centres further increasing costs, and has limited development potential and as such no longer provides value for money. Not only does this antiquated technology hinder efficiency and productivity, but it also poses significant risks to service delivery and business continuity.

However, there is hope. By embracing innovation and looking to the market for modern SaaS solutions which do not have hefty re-contracting charges, and deliver a significant upgrade in technology,  we can not only significantly reduce costs but also enhance the quality of our services. Investing in new technology is not just about saving money – it’s about future-proofing our operations and ensuring that we can continue to meet the evolving needs of our communities.

Moreover, let’s not forget the human element in all this. While losing an officer for a few weeks may inconvenience us, our core business will carry on. However, the consequences of a software failure that contains our workload will quickly cripple a business unit.  It’s our responsibility to prioritise investments in new technology that empower our workforce and enable them to serve our communities effectively, whilst securing the data our local authorities hold.

In conclusion, the challenges facing our local authorities are significant, but there are things that can happen now that can help save money so they can invest in the services our communities so desperately need.  By taking proactive measures to address legacy I.T contracts, modernise our technology infrastructure, and prioritise investments in innovation, we can pave the way for a brighter future for our communities. Together, we can navigate these financial waters and emerge stronger, more resilient, and better equipped to meet the needs of those we serve.