Today, Adrian and I were back at Camden Town Hall, with a number of other Socitm colleagues, to meet with invited suppliers to consult on how we could develop our relationships more effectively. To date, our relationship with private sector suppliers and members has been rather piecemeal – based mainly around sponsorship of one-off events.
We are keen to develop more strategic relationships that deliver real value through propositions that create sustainable and valued partnerships. We already had some ideas of our own, but this workshop was about gaining insight and advice from this key group of stakeholders.
After introductions, and a short presentation from Adrian, we broke into three groups to discuss our responses to a number of questions concerning experiences as supplier members, value currently derived and which could be derived, value that can be offered back to Socitm, how business relationship schemes should be structured and activities or services that Socitm should offer, but currently doesn’t.
The exercise proved invaluable; there was much agreement on views of how our society has been inconsistent in its engagement with the private sector, and one organisation’s reference to us as an “ad-hocracy”. Colleagues wanted clarity about policy and stakeholder buy-in. In the main, benefits that were derived were though personal relationships, rather than engagement with the businesses; we needed to do more to help suppliers, particularly SMEs, to engage with public sector procurement bureaucracy.
Many positive, practical and helpful suggestions were developed during the morning, and we agreed to maintain dialogue through a new discussion forum with the aim of agreeing the relevant membership considerations and agreeing upon partnership options ahead of the October Conference.
Back at Direct House, in the afternoon, Geoff and I met with Padraig Coakley from the Intel Innovation Centre in Dublin. Intel had proposed a WiMax trial to us at the beginning of the year, but we were not yet ready to proceed. Following approval of the Telecommunications Convergence project the time is now ripe to start planning the trial. We agreed foci around TeleCare, staff mobility and regeneration.
I will now write formally to Padraig with some loosely worked-up proposals and indicative time-scales, with a view to scheduling a technical workshop to kick-off the project.
Then I met with Tony Hainsworth, from St. Edmundsbury Borough Council, concerning a proposal that was originally discussed with the previous Socitm leadership, but not progressed. Tony is on the Executive of the Local Government Computer Users’ Association that was established as part of the ICL Computer Users’ community. The group is now in the process of winding itself up and has balances available that it wishes to use to set-up an award for an individual who “demonstrates significant progress in the use of IT in Local Government.
The offer was for Socitm to use the money to establish such a programme. I thought we could do so in conjunction with our imminent launch of the Aspire service to support the Skills Framework for the Information Age, which can be announced at our Autumn Conference. We agreed to work-up the proposal in correspondence that can include our mutual executive teams for approval.
I ended the day in my weekly teleconference with Adrian and David. This time it’s Adrian who cannot be available on Friday because of holiday! Our hour-long discussion was all in final preparations for next week’s Board Meeting.