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Highland Council reports good progress in bringing information and communications technology in-house

By Neil MacPhail

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Highland Council HQ.
Highland Council HQ.

HIGHLAND Council is making good progress with a project to bring information and communications technology (ICT) in-house instead of outsourcing.

An update on Project Dochas has been presented to the council's corporate resources committee.

The move, says the council, is expected to bring better value for money, quality of service and flexibility to meet changing business demands.

It will also enable the council to increase the use of technology to modernise and transform the way council services are delivered and support the medium-term financial planning of the council.

The council has out-sourced ICT arrangements for more than 20 years, but in July 2020 agreed to bring the service in-house and to fast-track where possible ahead of the end of the five year initial outsourced contract term.

At this time, approval was also given to commence re-structuring the council’s ICT team and start recruitment to key posts in the new structure.

Four key milestones have been achieved since August 2021.

Corporate resources committee chairman Councillor Jimmy Gray, said: “Bringing services in-house will help to protect local skilled jobs. To provide support to all council locations, technology will enable ICT support staff to be located in rural areas based at home or area offices.

"This is a real opportunity for the council to act as a long-term hub for skilled ICT roles in the Highlands in a way that an outsourcing supplier working to a fixed term contract cannot do.

“Work is now also underway to bring in another five Modern Apprentices as part of our commitment to the council’s Modern Apprenticeship scheme.”

Recruitment to posts in the new ICT structure continues and the team size is now around 90 FTE – more than double what it was in April 2021.

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