DM Software Pathfinder Expression of Interest Q&A

Questions asked at our DM Software Pathfinder Expression of Interest Q&A session

View the Q&A presentation slides from the session on 15 November 2021:

Questions on the scope of proposed projects

Will the project be considering ‘County Planning’ functions or is it aimed only at District/Borough Planning?

The primary problem the team is looking at is how to make the application process easier. At the moment they are focusing on the high volume application types – such as householder applications for planning permission and lawful development certificates.

Do we have to have specific software in place beforehand? Are there only certain companies you work with, or can we use any planning software? As we are currently in the process of looking at alternatives for our systems.

We encourage proposals from councils using different software providers so that the outputs can be relevant to the widest possible number of other councils in England. LPAs should apply to work with their existing software provider and not a potential future provider due to time constraints.

Is the Expression of Interest restricted to the three themes or could we propose to deliver more?

The EOI is restricted to the three themes. We hope that they are broad enough to cover a wide range of proposed outcomes and deliverables.

We have just procured a new IT supply for our Planning software. Are we at a stage where it will coincide with the funding available?

If you are actively using the software from the new supplier in your development management processes at the time of applying, and you have already identified areas where you would like to see improvements, you are welcome to apply.

We are attempting to make our travel planning software fit for purpose and want to know whether to put forward an Expression of Interest.

This Expression of Interest is for Development Management Software only.

We have many projects currently ongoing or proposed – could this funding be spread across these projects, or is it for a specific project or proposal?

This funding is for a single project or proposal which should be proposed by an LPA and specifically relate to their development management software or processes.

Questions on delivering collaborative Pathfinder projects

What discussions have been had with existing suppliers and what appetite has been found to work on development collaboratively?

DLUHC have had no specific conversations with existing suppliers to work on this EOI. We are opening up the opportunity for LPAs, as customers, to lead collaborative product development work with existing suppliers and we can help and support LPAs when the projects kick off.

How will you ensure that the projects receiving funding support the improvement of DM software across the market while demonstrating the principles of the Local Digital Declaration?

The Declaration is meant to be a pathway/journey to improvement. Projects can do this by working in an open and agile way, and by sharing their learnings and reusable outputs while improving DM software.

Would there be an opportunity for the Pathfinder council’s to collaborate across funded projects if there is a cross-over with their software provider?

We will establish a regular roundtable and a common communication channel, for example on Slack). DLUHC staff will work with the successful councils to define these.

Councils will be encouraged to work in the open throughout. We expect that project teams will contribute to regular blog posts and monthly show and tells. All outputs from the projects should be published openly at the end of the funding phase. There will also be a Showcase in April to conclude the work.

Questions on the use of funding and the application process

I am interested in signing up but, due to a heavy workload, I would like to get an idea of the time we would have to devote to this project.

You will be asked to put together a delivery plan as part of the application form. We expect a lead officer to be involved regularly, and this might mean at least 2 days of dedicated project work per week. As part of this you should propose a team or approach to delivering the work, and a plan for the time or resource commitments.

Why the short time frame? Our in-house digital services team has a 12-month lead into any ICT project so this is going to be really challenging.

The funding is for short Pathfinder projects, through which LPAs, existing software providers and DLUHC will learn about and take forward opportunities to enhance discrete aspects of existing development management software products. It is not meant for end-to-end service transformation.

What do you expect the breakdown of costs to be?

It will depend. There is the opportunity to backfill your staff costs to free up local authority staff. We are also open to you procuring an agency to help to deliver this work. We encourage you not to underestimate the time required.

You may need to think about other costs for integrations with other pieces of software, depending on what you are proposing. For example, in our previous conversations with council staff, things like Power BI have come up – and there may be integration or licensing costs associated with something like that.

Would receiving funding through this EOI impact future funding opportunities through the Local Digital Fund? Either specific to planning or wider.

Yes and no. Yes, insofar as when councils apply to multiple funds we will want to understand where the funded project work might be impacted by capacity issues – especially if it’s the same people working on several projects. But other than that: No.

Which systems will be part of the EOI, and how will the bids be reviewed?

We encourage proposals from councils using different software providers so that the outputs can be relevant to the widest possible number of other councils in England. The bids will be reviewed according to the assessment criteria outlined in the Application Guidance.