North Yorkshire County Council

North Yorkshire County Council

Single View of a Child Procurement Project

Briefly describe the initiative/ project/service; please include your aims and objectives

In July 2018 a cross-directorate project team headed by Procurement at North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) began the process of sourcing a software solution to create a “single view of a child” for our Multi-Agency Screening Team. This would enhance our responsiveness to safeguarding, facilitate partnership working with emergency services, and create a more efficient service within NYCC.

The service wanted to access new innovative technology to support multi-agency working, replacing the existing approach of multiple views and systems each used to, investigate, search, analyse and interpret information to achieve the holistic view of a child. This approach is both time consuming, in a service where a rapid safeguarding response can potentially save lives, and inefficient. While the existing systems supported each partner in their business as usual, it was identified that opportunities could be, and were being missed, because data was stored within individual systems. Issues with sharing and analysing data across systems and partners often created barriers.The project team looked at procuring a solution that would integrate data and systems from multiple sources to display relevant, accurate information about a child in one.

What are the key achievements?

The implementation of a Master Data Management (MDM) solution for all children’s information broke down barriers between partners, leading to better case management and faster responses to safeguarding concerns. Scalability was key to expand the use of single record across other areas of the organisation as and when required. Flexibility was essential to avoid capability issues now and in future procurements, as well as for use with phones and tablets to support a more agile workforce. The MDM solution automates the data cleansing process and allows for the development of a data prioritisation hierarchy, dramatically streamlining processes and freeing up staff time across vital children’s services.

The project was £100,000 under budget against the Department for Education (DfE) funding allowance. The DfE wanted to ensure best value was secured in the use of the funds, so procurement led the project team and ensured a competitive exercise was undertaken to demonstrate and assure this.
The team carried out extensive consultation with stakeholders and suppliers, this allowed them to identify the key requirements and problems that the solution had to resolve. This ensured a smooth procurement process and delivered value for money.

What are the key learning points?

This process highlighted a gap in knowledge within the service area as to the benefits that could be achieved from any solution. This may have been due to a lack of technical knowledge and possible fear of the unknown. Discovery day sessions and early engagement with suppliers helped to allay those concerns and demonstrate the art of the possible, resulting in tangible engagement and high level management support.

The MDM solution is a new area of system development not used by the authority before. It was vital that colleagues in Technology and Change were heavily involved in the engagement and document development to ensure technology infrastructure, architecture and compatibility were considered.
Rigorous project management was essential as the project involved a number of services and partners. It is right that all who are affected can contribute but this risks delays due to the numbers involved and if anyone missed meetings. Regular updates, an action log with decisions delegated to service area experts, and project plan were employed to keep the project on track. From the procurement process, a flexible evaluation panel with staff evaluating their areas of expertise helped to source the right solution.