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Shared services in the Public Sector – still worth investigating?

May 01, 2018

Peter Vasey, Head of Pre-Sales for Modality Systems, recently delivered a presentation titled “Getting more from your Microsoft investment” at the Socitm Annual General Meeting in Exeter. Socitm is the professional organisation for UK public sector IT and digital leaders and their suppliers. Increasing pressures on the Public Sector mean budgets are being pulled tighter and efficiency savings are now critical across departments. In this latest blog aimed at the Public Sector, Peter shares his thoughts on a key question that came to the fore during the recent session: Are Shared Services in the Public Sector still worth investigating?

 

Image_Peter-VaseyWHAT DO WE MEAN BY SHARED SERVICES?

Let’s start at the beginning. It’s a bit like asking someone what ‘cloud’ means to them. You need to be clear on what is being referred to.

In general terms, Shared Services refers to two or more organisations agreeing to use a common set of infrastructures, so that the costs can be spread between those organisations. In many cases, this will be like sharing a hosted Data Centre, where all the organisations use the same Firewalls, SAN, Hypervisor technologies and so on.

 

IS IT WORTH INVESTIGATING?

Yes, absolutely. Heads up though on two points:

  1. Shared Services often fall apart because the organisations involved are not completely honest and open with each other.

Plans need to be made for not only how it will work, but what happens if it doesn’t. Most Shared Services come unstuck due to politics, not technical issues. Strategic directions or alliances change, CIOs come and go and have different views on how things should work, and organisations hold back on important information that they don’t think is important; information that then goes on to affect the design or service. If you are going to go Shared Services, that is fine, but all parties need to lay their cards on the table and be truly open about how they work.

  1. Shared Services is the sharing of infrastructure to take advantage of the scale of economies.

That’s what Office 365 is and does. Just because it is Microsoft hosted, doesn’t make it any different in principle. It is just another shared service, delivered by subscriptions.

 

HOW DO MICROSOFT DELIVER THEIR SHARED SERVICES SOLUTION?

You don’t really need to know this. Exchange is delivered Online, so are Skype for Business, SharePoint, Teams, PowerBI, Information Management, Compliance, Security, Device Management etc. You just access these services from Office 365. If you need some services on premises due to regulations, you can have that. If you need Microsoft Phone, that’s fine too. It is just another service that needs planning for.

The big difference is that with these tools your Shared Services is accomplished by creating common work areas, which can be used for Communications and Collaboration - weekly meetings, co-authoring, shared minutes, reference materials, file repositories and so on. You have all these tools at your disposal, but without the need to commit to political marriage! Furthermore, it is all wrapped with security, Information Management, GDPR and Compliance tooling.

Internally at Modality Systems, we have common workspaces that are used throughout our communications with Microsoft, other Consortium partners and even with key clients. Users from within and outside the organisation all work in this shared space, but nobody has committed to investments in Data Centres or hardware. There are no long-term hosting contracts and no political bun fights. We all just get on with it. If at any point we need to separate those workspaces, we agree who gets which data and remove permissions - job done. Isn’t that much easier, quicker and a bit more free-thinking? 

 

Peter Vasey | Head of Pre-Sales

Modality Systems

 

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