Wednesday, 27 January 2010

A new team, policy messages and fire fighting

Monday, 05.56, grey, wet, cold...welcome to the week.
Another Monday speeding towards Kings Cross for what promises to be another busy and interesting week. In fact it got interesting over the weekend following the launch of IT Trends earlier in the week. We apparently had a spat with the Government CIO, John Suffolk, over the merits or otherwise, of the G Cloud, according to the press. However, according to those present who didn't have a focus on selling publications, there was a debate during which some interesting points were raised from the floor resulting in the type of discussion that should be taking place. I'll say nothing more about our support of the G Cloud initiative, other than we do and we have a great deal of confidence in Martin Bellamy and his team to deliver a working solution that will offer efficiencies and new opportunities. Martin Ferguson will, I am sure, put some detail and clarification around this in his blog entry shortly. The episode has, however, alerted us to the need to continue bringing more consistency to our communications and key messages across the whole Society.....we're on it.

It has also been interesting to note different people's expectations of the role that Socitm should play in relation to (particularly) central government initiatives that will impact significant sections of our membership. Some seem to fear that any criticism on our part will jeopardise our 'place at the table' whilst others suppose that we should always occupy the role of devil's advocate. From our perspective neither is correct. We aim to fulfil the role of critical and honest friend and I believe this is how we are increasingly being seen. We won't hide from potential problems or issues that we believe will impact our members or render a service 'unfit for purpose' but we will raise them constructively and in appropriate fora. And all of this before Peterborough!

My main meeting is the first with the new (complete) 'front of house' team: Martin Ferguson, Head of Policy, Ellen Jessett, Head of Membership, Karl Grundy, Head of Commercial, David Houston, FD and me. I believe we have, possibly for the first time in the Society, a full time professional, skilled core group covering all key aspects of the organisation. Our discussions were as wide ranging as they were valuable and covered:

•Our main policy focus and corresponding messages: Tomorrow's local public services , Information management, Efficiency and sustainability, Infrastructures (PSN, G Cloud...), Citizen/staff engagement. Socitm Futures is leading on this work and will begin to appear on our new website shortly (more later) and in Martin Ferguson's blog entries.

•Professionalism and member development including proposed new membership categories, post nominals, mentoring and corporate membership

•Commercial and business development opportunities and relationships with the supplier community

•The 2010 budget, business planning and strategies

All in all a very valuable day that has begun to lay the groundwork for much more collaborative and coherent working across each of our main activity areas.

We also discussed the new website...yes it has finally gone live, albeit in beta form see: . and of course, there have been and still are some teething problems and content to be updated, but we have now got a significantly more flexible and functionally rich platform than we have ever had which integrates with our (also new) corporate CRM system. I admit it is hard to see the benefits while you are still fighting fires, but they are there and will come into their own as we develop. We have invited, and are receiving, feedback, comments and suggestions on the site, most of which are positve and practical and are helping us to develop the site.

Most of today has been spent looking at business planning and ensuring we lay the right foundations for future revenue short the resources to implement the plans! There will be more detail around this in future entries. For the rest of the week I am in Northampton with the 'back office team' who are also doing a tremendous, if often unseen, job in rebuilding our corporate infrastructure and processes and keeping the whole show on the road

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