Income Management System for local government

Contents:

  1. Project timeline

This project, led by Barnsley Metropolitan Council, aims to open up a back office Income Management System (IMS) built by Barnsley Council to other local authorities, and the private and public sectors. The new IMS will provide:

  • a better experience for those who use and deliver payment and income services by designing a user-centred service that meets their needs
  • value for money: demonstrating that councils can save money and run more efficient processes by adopting the future service
  • open by design: sharing an open, configurable, cloud hosted system with a flexible support model that councils can absorb
  • collaboration: working with local authorities and potential support providers to design a good local government service

The project is due to officially kick off the next stage of delivery in July 2021. To contact the project, email hello@localgovims.digital.

This project builds on previously completed discovery and alpha work. The project kicked off a private beta in July 2021.

Project presentation at Digital Leaders week 2021

Project timeline

December 2018 to April 2019 - discovery

The GOV.UK Pay as a viable alternative e-payment provider discovery project receives £52,103 from the Local Digital Fund and delivers a recommendation for further discovery into income management and e-payment systems.

September 2019 to March 2020 - discovery

MHCLG awards £80,000 for previous discovery exploring income management and e-payment systems from the Local Digital Fund and the project explores how the Barnsley-built system could be scaled for local government.

March to September 2020 - alpha

The project receives alpha funding from the Local Digital Fund. The project delivers the alpha phase and produces prototypes for an improved system, as well as recommendations for taking the project into beta phase.

February 2021 - beta

The project hosts a workshop to generate ideas for beta, which form the basis for their proposal of how they wish to take the project into the beta phase. The project also attends a Continuous Funding Model interview and is awarded £350,000 from the Local Digital Fund.

May 2021 - beta

The project is undergoing procurement activities with the view of kicking off their beta stage in June 2021.

June 2021 - beta

The project is busy preparing the Income Management System (IMS) codebase for reuse, making sure that the code is not specific to Barnsley Council and can be easily adopted by other councils.

They also held their first meeting where they discussed fears and hopes for beta and defining the MVP including:

  • What is the minimum level of value that the Future IMS must offer? What must the user be able to do?
  • What contexts do we think organisations are likely to pick? Small, low risk, standalone services with one cost centre code?

Glen Conroy from Dorset Council also presented at Digital Leaders Week, where he spoke about the project and their plans for Beta. Watch a recording of the presentation on YouTube (skip to 23:50 minutes).

July 2021 - beta

After holding their first meeting, the project held their second workshop to define the private beta scope. They are starting with private beta 1 — an open source solution that any council in the country will be able to pick up and reuse.

There are 2 stages to private beta 1:

  • Stage 1: Make sure the open source code base ready for anyone to use (started)
  • Stage 2: Get others (i.e. private beta participants) using the code

The project also updated their page on Local Digital Pipeline.

Finally, the project officially kicked off their 1st sprint, where they planned the tasks that need to get done in the first 3 sprints, and agreed a delivery plan for their open source private beta.

December 2021 - beta

The IMS project team is taking an alternative approach to their private beta tests.

They have taken inspiration from other teams in government and are hosting a ‘model office’. A model office is a simulated work environment, allowing the team to test a solution in a realistic way.

The IMS model office will be shaped around four aspects:

  • The functional elements of the new IMS
  • Ways of working within your organisation
  • Working with other organisations using the IMS
  • Expectations from a supplier of a managed service

The model office approach is intended to minimise the input required to enable as many Local Authorities to take advantage of these benefits as possible.

Three sessions will be remotely hosted by the IMS team in January. Each session will last three hours in duration, enabling testing authorities to upload their own data into the model office and test all facets of the system end-to-end.

May 2022

The project team plans to set up a monthly user group for Finance SMEs, in recognition that the project had been technology-focused to date and would benefit from being more user-centred in its approach.

The developers have tested an end-to-end transaction on the Dorset build and identified a number of issues to resolve.

A coordinated comms approach has been planned for both Barnsley and Dorset for when they switch over to the open-source model.

Governance for the project still needs to be agreed with a decision on the open-source licence for the code. The core code is expected to remain static, although the partner councils would like a licence that will enable them to maintain control over the core code yet remain flexible should additional development be required. An MIT licence has been suggested, which the team have agreed to discuss.