The comments in your feature about South Cambridgeshire District Council’s shared service experience were unhelpful and a poor reflection of the partnership approach that we adopt with the district councils in Cambridgeshire, including the Southern District (Personnel Today, 23 May). It also failed to provide sufficient context for our position at that time, subsequent developments and future activity.
In 2003, when the case study took place, the county was indeed involved in the roll-out of new software – a fully integrated e-business suite, which included both HR and payroll modules. Unfortunately, this platform did not appear to fit with the needs of South Cambridgeshire – but no barrier to sharing existed from our perspective.
While we may not utilise the same IT infrastructure, we do have a range of very successful shared arrangements in place, including: Cambridgeshire Direct (our customer contact centre); use of the same IT network; and shared contracts for occupational health and recruitment advertising.
We are progressing with a shared jobs portal for the county and our district partners, and we have been receptive when South Cambridgeshire sought our expert HR and legal support in relation to some complex issues.
Your feature gave a narrow focus on shared services, with an IT-only approach. Perhaps if authorities were more receptive to a real sharing of services, pooling of costs and maximising expertise, then they could focus on the real business of the day – delivering excellent public services to communities.
Director of HR,
Cambridgeshire County Council