Agenda Item No 8

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

Cabinet Meeting: 30 July, 2018

Report of the Leader

Contact Centre Technology Procurement

Purpose of the Report

  1. To seek authority to go out to tender contracts for the provision of a new Contact Centre Technology platform in conjunction with Rhondda-Cynon-Taff CBC ('RCT CBC'), Wrexham Council and other Welsh councils.

Recommendations

That Cabinet:

  1. Authorises this council to lead the collaborative procurement exercise outlined in this report and to enter into a suitable Inter-Authority agreement with RCT CBC and Wrexham Council.
  2. Authorises the Head of Finance / Section 151 Officer and Head of Performance and Development to commence tendering procedures for the services outlined in this report.
  3. Approves delegated authority for the Head of Finance / Section 151 Officer and Head of Performance and Development in consultation with the Managing Director and Leader to accept and award tenders for these services in accordance with the Council's Contract Procedure Rules in conjunction with partners. 
  4. Authorises the Monitoring Officer / Head of Legal and Democratic Services to agree the terms of and execute contracts with successful providers.
  5. Authorises the Monitoring Officer/Head of Legal and Democratic Services to agree the terms of and execute the necessary Inter-Authority agreement with RCT CBC and Wrexham Council

Reasons for the Recommendations

  1. To replace the existing platform; which is supported until 30 September 2018 only.
  2. To support the objectives of the Digital Strategy through implementation of functionality which supports citizens to use online self-service; such as Web Chat.
  3. To improve operational efficiency by integrating service delivery channels; such as telephony, email, social media and web chat
  4. To create opportunities for collaborative work with Rhondda-Cynon-Taff and Wrexham councils with the potential to reduce operating costs and/or increase income.
  5. To ensure proper governance of the collaboration between the named authorities.

Background

  1. The existing contact centre technology platform was procured in 2005 and routes telephone callers to the person best placed to deal with their enquiry.
  2. The existing technology is used by a range of services outside of Customer Relations including Adult Social Care Intake and Assessment Team, Council Tax, Housing Benefits, Shared Regulatory Services and Cardiff & Vale University Health Board (UHB).
  3. The technology fell out of manufacturer service support in June 2018 and will not receive software updates or security patches after that time. The platform is being supported through a third party supplier, Sabio Ltd, until 30 September 2018, with an extension to 31 December 2018 currently being negotiated. After this it will represent an ICT security risk that will impact on the Council's ability to retain Public Services Network Compliance Certificate. Eventually the platform will become inoperative and contact centre services will cease impacting directly on customers and client services across the Council and UHB.
  4. The current technology platform does not have the required functionality, such as web chat, to support customers in accessing services digitally in an efficient way. This functionality will be delivered by the new technology.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. It is proposed to procure a remotely hosted technology solution. This provides increased flexibility as functionality and numbers of users can be flexed meaning the council will only be charged for the functionality it is using each month.      
  2. The hosted solution also provides an opportunity for joint procurement and Rhondda-Cynon-Taff (RCT) and Wrexham councils have agreed to participate in the creation of a framework agreement. To date the following councils have requested to appear on the tender notification as potential users of the framework: Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Flintshire, Neath Port Talbot, Newport and Swansea. All 22 local councils may be named in the final tender documentation, although this will not commit them to access the services available.
  3. A hosted solution will provide greater resilience and a degree of "future proofing" as upgrades will be included in contract costs. In addition, new emerging functionality will be added to the platform and could be trialled in a low risk way.
  4. It is proposed that the term of the initial contract will be 3 years with an option to extend the contract by a further year. 
  5. New technology will deliver opportunities to improve operational efficiency. Councils and third sector organisations using web chat are able to demonstrate not only that they can support customers using a digital self-service option but that Customer Service Representatives are able to manage between 3 (Connect Assist) and 5 (Cornwall Council) customer conversations concurrently.
  6. In addition, newly available functionality will allow enquiries from a range of channels to be queued as a single work queue. This means that staff would not have to be allocated to undertake duties such as email and social media handling, as an administrative task, removing them from the enquiry handling resource. Instead all media could be queued concurrently and be delivered to the next available person with the appropriate competency.
  7. This way of working not only maximises staff productivity, but also reduces work intensification - a key source of staff demotivation and low morale. 

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. This type of solution requires a lower capital investment but higher revenue costs as a charge is levied monthly for the functionality used on a per seat licence basis. Each Council participating in the framework will be charged individually for the functionality they use. However it is anticipated that a joint procurement will reduce individual licence cost due to the higher number of licences being procured overall.
  2. The Vale of Glamorgan will act as lead authority on the procurement exercise with colleagues from RCT and Wrexham councils involved in the evaluation of tender responses and award of contract/s.
  3. There has been discussion about budget with RCT CBC and Wrexham Council and it has been determined that the likely value of the contract is within the respective budgets for these authorities.
  4. At the current time it is not possible to determine if the cost of this can be accommodated within the existing budget for the service. Decisions regarding the level of functionality and resultant cost will have to be made as part of the procurement exercise. Any additional funding will have to be considered as part of the estimate process for 2019/2010
  5. Additional functionality will play a part in achieving savings through improvements in operational efficiency and providing improved support of customers accessing services online. 
  6. Customer Relations staff have been engaged on the potential changes to working practices and duties which could arise from implementation of new functionality.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. The Council must also consider its legal obligations under the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 to think more about the long term, work better with people and communities and each other, look to prevent problems and take a more joined-up approach. Procuring a hosted solution will improve sustainability of the technology and allow the council to respond better to changing customer expectations around access to services.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. The procurement exercise will comply with the Council's Contract Procedure Rules and the Public Contract Regulations 2015.
  2. The Council is required to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018 in relation to the collection, processing, and retention of data. 

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. No crime and disorder implications in relation to this procurement and future service provision

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. The Council has to satisfy its public sector duties and obligations under the Equality Act 2010.
  2. In accordance with the Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011 and the Welsh Language standards, the Council also has to consider the impact upon the Welsh language of any decision that it makes. Customer facing elements of the product will be available in English and Welsh.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. Procurement of this technology will contribute to Corporate Health Action CP1 as it will "enable (the council) to meet the future needs of the citizen…..within the context of unprecedented budget pressures"
  2. The project supports the service plan action to develop further shared services with Health.

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. This is a matter for Executive decision by the Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. As the report does not impact on specific wards, ward member consultation has not been necessary.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. Corporate Performance and Resources

Background Papers

None

Contact Officer

Tony Curliss, Operational Manager Customer Relations

Officers Consulted

Carys Lord, Head of Finance

Huw Isaac, Head of Performance and Development

Victoria Davidson, Operational Manager Legal Services

Mike Walsh, Principle Lawyer

Nick Wheeler, Operational Manager ICT

Adrian Unsworth, Operational Manager Human Resources

James Rees, Senior Business Improvement Partner

Sarah Congreve, Assistant Locality Manager

Responsible Officer:

Rob Thomas, Managing Director