Investing today, for a brighter tomorrow

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council are a mid-sized unitary authority in South East Essex with around 1,800 FTE roles, serving a population of 182,500 residents and, as with many councils, they are facing major challenges.

As the population increases, gets older and birth rates rise, there will be greater demand for school places, homes, health and other public services. The changing climate provides challenges to their valued coast and as the economy is also changing, the region will need a better skilled workforce to meet the needs of the future, including developments in robotics, artificial intelligence and technology. An important part of making this happen is Southend 2050.

Southend 2050

Southend 2050 is an opportunity to explore what kind of place Southend-on-Sea wants to become and to understand what they will need to do to create it. The year 2050 may seem like a long way off when everyone is working so hard to meet the challenges of today, but being clearer about their long-term aspirations can help to think about what they can achieve in the here and now.

To deliver on their digital agenda and visions for Southend 2050, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council needs to change fundamentally to be able to take advantage of the opportunities and challenges ahead. This means enabling a council that is more agile, more efficient, more entrepreneurial and more engaged with residents and customers. This is a goal that not only is on the agenda, but already on the horizon and making an impact.

Internally, work is underway on a Future Ways of Working programme that will focus on the council’s transformation journey, its recovery from COVID-19 and delivery of the Southend 2050 ambition. This work includes the here and now, democracy, people and wellbeing, the green agenda, smart working and skills and leadership.

Partnering for success

Working strategically and in partnership with Phoenix Software and Microsoft, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council chose to make the move to Microsoft 365 E5 which combines best-in-class productivity apps that we are all so familiar with both at home and work with advanced security, compliance, voice and analytical capabilities. Making this move will allow them to:

  • Get audio conferencing and calling capabilities in the cloud to enable the organisation to work remotely
  • Uplift collaboration efficiencies and effectiveness through Microsoft Teams, SharePoint and OneDrive
  • Extend identity and threat protection with integrated and automated security to help stop damaging attacks
  • Bring together information protection and advanced compliance capabilities to protect and govern data while reducing risk
  • Benefit from Power BI capabilities that help you realise significant business value from your data

Steven Hemmings, Head of Enterprise Architecture & Digital Innovation, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, commented,  “The funding challenges within local government are well known, but the work we are doing here is the right investment to ensure the council has the best tools and technology in place to support employees and the citizens we serve. Having Phoenix and Microsoft working together means we are all integrated into one big team. We know the roadmap and what we need to do to make it happen.”

Adopting and adapting to the change

Rather than just making this investment and introducing new services and solutions to their staff and citizens, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council have made a real commitment to change. This means ensuring that not only are these solutions rolled out in a secure and compliant manner, in line with council policies and procedures, but they will also support their employees to adopt these solutions and embrace new ways of working. Enabling confidence and ensuring that everyone has the right support and knowledge they need is key to a happy and engaged workforce which in turn will deliver increased productivity and a better customer or citizen service.

Keith Martin, Sales Director, Phoenix Software, said: “We are delighted to be working with Southend-On-Sea Borough Council as they continue to deliver against their Southend 2050 initiative. As we start to exit the pandemic, we believe that the cloud and digital skills will be at the heart of regional recovery. Working in partnership with the council we look forward to supporting them as they deliver a new way of working that will not only benefit the authority, but the citizens of Southend-On-Sea as well.”

Secure at every level

Another key driver for this project is the well-publicised increase in cyber attacks that have been so prominent in the sector. By working with the Phoenix Security Team and Microsoft Specialists, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council are confident that they are utilising best-in-breed options to secure them at every point and every level from breaches or attacks. Furthermore, their security posture will continually improve as this investment in M365 will see the world-class solutions from Microsoft continually updated and improved to ensure maximum protection for all – whether in the office, working remotely or on-site supporting those they serve.

Steven Hemmings concluded, “Stepping away from a transactional relationship, like we see with so many partners, was key for us and working with Phoenix is more of an extension to our team that are always on-hand to help guide, advise and deliver on the solutions we need to make the impact we want. By working closely with Phoenix, we know we can rely on the knowledge and expertise of an award-winning and public sector focused Microsoft partner to ensure that everyone is working towards delivering the shared vision for our council, our people and those we serve.”