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Digitisation

3SC’s Head of IT and Operations, talks about the increasing importance of IT and offers some thoughts about what we all need to consider with regards to the development of our IT systems. We live in an increasingly digital age and all organisations, of whatever size, must grapple with the requirements of commissioners, the law and developments undertaken by other providers. Keeping information electronically is no longer optional and there are many new requirements about how we store, process and transfer information securely and lawfully. We can either engage with this agenda, developing and maintaining systems that make us more efficient and effective or we can constantly play catch up and do just enough to comply with requirements.

At 3SC we recognise that having systems that enable us to work efficiently is not only a requirement of commissioners but also a vital part of the development of our practice and remaining competitive. Investing in the ongoing development of our IT infrastructure and software is important and something we take pride in. As a result, we develop our own software and portals for managing our contracts rather than relying upon third party systems. When we have bought off-the-shelf or paid external developers we have found that the software does not do everything we expect and then we find it hard and expensive to update it when we want to add more functionality due to changes in managing a programme or the delivery requirements change. In one case an external provider ceased trading, leaving us unable to continue to develop the product which we were using to manage a major contract, which led us to take our software development in house. Of course, we often have no choice but to use a commissioner’s system; but our experience tells us that the best way to do that is to have the inhouse expertise to understand the system and ensure that we get the best from it.

There are a number of areas that we would encourage every organisation to consider in relation to the development of their IT systems. These are:

a). Recognise that technology is destined to play an ever- increasing role in today’s and tomorrow’s business environment. If you are paying a person to perform a task that your competitor accomplishes with an automated script, then your costs will be greater than theirs.

b). Accept that you may still know very little about digital and tech. If you see your own computer proficiency increase by an order of magnitude remember that the complexity of technology grew exponentially.

c). Do not outsource your technology; it may solve your short- term issues but it will mean you do not have in-house expertise to drive development.

d). Listen to your IT people, they are the subject matter experts.

3SC can offer advice, guidance and consultancy to support you to understand your IT needs across your business. Please get in touch at info@3sc.org

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