Faced with the challenge of funding cuts, rising customer expectations, and having to move premises, Leicester City Council embarked on a business transformation strategy. It needed to take control of its data, enhance customer experience, and
modernise its infrastructure to support flexible, collaborative working. As part of this modernisation programme, the council looked to replace its Novell email, diary, and file and print solution, along with its existing private branch exchange (PBX) telephone
system, supporting more than 8,000 unique numbers. Microsoft offered a complete solution, including Microsoft Lync 2010 for instant messaging, voice, and video, Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 for email and unified communications, and Active Directory services.
As a result, the council is reducing its costs and carbon footprint by giving employees better functionality.
With a population of more than 300,000, Leicester City Council serves the largest city in the East Midlands and the most diverse outside London in the United Kingdom. The council, which employs 15,000 people, has been a unitary authority since 1997 and in
2011 appointed Sir Peter Soulsby as its first elected Mayor.
Innovation in information and communications technology (ICT) was a key driver for the council’s major business transformation programme. A series of ICT and information assurance strategies and projects were established to support this business programme.
Central to the council’s strategy was a decision to standardise the server and desktop operating systems on Microsoft products, benefitting from the latest collaboration tools such as Microsoft Office and Microsoft Lync technologies.
In addition to the server and desktop modernisation programme, there was an enterprise data management project that aimed to link the council’s staff and customer databases, helping to ensure the accuracy of information stored. Another key innovation was
the development of an enterprise reporting platform called Enterprise, which uses Microsoft SQL Server reporting, geospatial mapping, and business intelligence technologies.
Marlo Valente, Head of Enterprise Services, Leicester City Council, says: “The Enterprise platform securely collates data from key council systems. It combines this with other demographic and geographic information, together with data collected from partner
agencies, including Leicestershire Police and health sites in the city. This is then visually represented in an easy-to-understand and innovative way, creating an incident-based mapping tool for staff and partner agencies.”
Such an ambitious strategy required the council to make a major investment in ICT, and for this it needed an ICT systems vendor and partner.
Leicester City Council chose Microsoft as its principal technology supplier for the server and desktop modernisation programme. It involved systems integration support from Microsoft Gold Partner Risual, which is a Microsoft services company based in Staffordshire,
in the U.K.
The Novell to Microsoft migration project began in July 2011 with deployment of Active Directory services to replace Novell eDirectory for identity and authentication. Within three months, more than 6,000 council employees had been moved to Active Directory
and upgraded from Windows XP and Microsoft Office 2003 to Microsoft Office 2010. The Windows 7 operating system was rolled out to help the council take full advantage of the new Microsoft server technologies that were being deployed. Then, within a further
five months, council staff were migrated from Novell GroupWise email to Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 with the Microsoft Outlook 2010 mail client.
Leicester City Council had also committed to Exchange Server 2010 and Microsoft Lync 2010 for unified communications. Exchange Server 2010 combines voicemail and email messaging into a single mailbox that can be accessed from different devices. Lync 2010
provides instant messaging, presence, and audio, video, and web-based conferencing, as well as enterprise voice.
Karen Dallyn, Public Sector Account Director at Risual, which handled the architecture and design of the solution, says: “The alternative solution was to replace the Siemens private branch exchange (PBX) with a traditional IP PBX. The deployment of Microsoft
Lync 2010 was not only more cost effective, but also offered better functionality through a single client and seamless integration with Microsoft Outlook and the rest of the Office suite. It also supported the proposed building move and flexible working initiative
for staff by giving them access to instant messaging, voice, and collaboration services at any council location or when working from home.”
Although the use of Lync 2010 produced significant savings, it was only one part of the integrated Microsoft technologies supporting the modernisation programme. The council used Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V for deploying virtualised servers as well
as the Microsoft System Center suite to manage the data centre and desktop estate. For the enterprise reporting platform, the council used Bing Maps geospatial mapping to help simplify the huge quantity of service requests and incident information held.
In addition to the support from Risual, Leicester City Council is using Microsoft Services Premier Support. Its software licensing needs are covered by a Microsoft Services Enterprise Agreement from Microsoft Gold Volume Licensing Partner SBL.
Kamal Kotecha, Server Manager, Leicester City Council, says: “We simply couldn’t manage a project of this size without dedicated support from Microsoft partners and resources through Premier Support.”
The council also appreciated that the Microsoft migration project would affect every user, so it organised a major staff briefing event at its recently opened Digital Media Centre, supported by Microsoft and attended by more than 600 people. The event was
captured on video and published on the council’s intranet.
Jill Craig, Director, Information and Access, Leicester City Council, says: “Migrating more than 6,000 users to a new desktop environment was always going to be challenging, so effective communication and staff engagement were critical. We set up an intranet
site, where we published training material supplied by Microsoft. We also issued regular update emails, established a project-specific telephone help line, recruited local champions, and despatched ‘floor walkers’ to support business users on migration days.
Microsoft was extremely supportive throughout, delivering executive and staff briefings that created an excitement across the organisation.”
Engaging the users early, briefing them on the forthcoming changes, and involving them in the transformation process all contributed to the success of the project.
Efficiencies have been achieved across the council through the adoption of new ways of working and the migration to Microsoft technology for the desktop and server estate. Having documents in electronic format has helped staff access key information quickly
and securely, resulting in better service productivity, improved decision making, and increased staff sense of worth. The council’s carbon footprint has been reduced through green ICT. Internal collaboration and partnership working with other statutory agencies
has also been greatly enhanced through better data management.
Microsoft Communications Solution Provides Better Functionality at a Lower Cost Compared to PBX
The combination of Lync 2010, Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, and Exchange Server 2010 was an attractive proposition for the council from unified communications, collaboration, and cost perspectives.
Kotecha says: “Compared to a traditional IP PBX, Microsoft Lync 2010 worked out to be significantly less expensive, with better functionality provided through a single, integrated client. The savings made in not opting for a like-for-like PBX solution allowed
the council to invest in the Microsoft platform.”
Green ICT Reduces the City Council’s Carbon Footprint
During the transformation programme, the council took advantage of every opportunity to reduce its carbon footprint. Initiatives included more energy-efficient hardware, server virtualisation using Hyper-V technology, and the removal of desktop printers.
Ian Abell, Head of Technology Services, Leicester City Council, says: “By the end of 2011, our green IT programme had reduced carbon emissions by around 550 tonnes a year.”
Microsoft Lync 2010
Lync 2010 delivers easy and engaging access to multiple communication modes through a single, simplified interface. Users can connect and collaborate from any location that has Internet connectivity.
For more information about Microsoft Lync 2010, go to:
For More Information
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hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to:
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