The councils have joined together under a Joint Committee arrangement to form oneSource, to deliver back office services. This is set to realise more than £10m annual savings within the next three to five years.
The budgeting and forecasting pilot follows Havering’s successful use of Collaborative Planning, implemented in 2011. The system has helped Havering to eliminate the use of multiple Excel spreadsheets and enabled authorised users to accurately monitor the authority’s capital and revenue budgets within a controlled and transparent environment.
As part of the recently formed oneSource partnership, sharing Collaborative Planning will further extend the councils’ shared services initiative as an integral part of an ongoing cost and efficiency drive.
Collaborative Planning integrates seamlessly with the financial management software used by both councils, extracting budgetary, procurement and salary information, and displaying them together in one single overview.
Both councils are part of the One Oracle Project, which involves seven local authorities in London which are using Oracle ERP software joining together to share an IT platform. In August 2014 Havering went live on the project, and Newham Council is due to go live in 2015.
Owen Sparks, Operations Manager for Havering Council with responsibility for business partnering at Newham, said: “Collaborative Planning provides us with an easy way to manage our budgets online in a single place. The flexibility and effectiveness of the system gave us the confidence to recommend and roll-out the solution to Newham.
“As both councils share services it is important that our systems and processes are aligned to enable us to work together as smoothly as possible. System intuitiveness and ease of use are also essential to enable our budget holders to fully engage with the financial management process. The use of the system has led to improved budget holder responsibility and ownership.
“We also have greater transparency of our finances, and with the continued squeeze on local authority resources, it remains crucial to have that knowledge easily and quickly accessible.”
The aim of the One Oracle Project is to enable councils to share best practice, as well as minimise the costs for hosting and upgrades, which will enable resources to be directed to frontline services.
Sparks added: “The benefits gained from being part of the One Oracle Project will be further extended by Newham and Havering councils both utilising the same forecasting solution – again benefiting from sharing best practice and processes.”