Kent County Council services a population of 1.3 million people and has a number of priority service areas such as human resources. The councils ability to deliver its goals hinges on its information technology (IT) capabilities. The role of IT in Kent was first formalized in 1999 when the Chief Executive of KCC, articulated a vision of harvesting IT for service gains. Unfortunately, vision is rarely the same as reality.
At the beginning of 2001, KCC had a multi-headed technology Hydra of small IT systems working in isolation. It was paralysed by a mountain of IT tasks and targets, spending £43 million annually on IT but struggling to deliver projects that would have a step-change impact. Its first organization-wide attempt to change the system in KCC human resources had been short-lived with the Social Services Directorate in urgent need of money, the budget for the HR IT was pulled. Although a disappointment, this ultimately proved to be a turning point in implementing the IT vision.
Just four years after central government articulated its e-government vision, Kent County Council successfully completed a major new IT system to support its financials and HR. This case, Kent County Council: Implementing IT for E-Government, by Theodoros Evgeniou, Assistant Professor of Information Systems, and Kishore Sengupta, Associate Professor of Information Systems at INSEAD, scrutinizes the successful transition, drawing from it lessons for future IT implementations. It discusses KCCs transformation from an organisation lumbered with outdated technology, to one with confidence in its IT capabilities and fast reaching the e-government targets set by central government.
As it examines the progress and development of the IT initiative, it asks how and why one county was able to rise to the challenge. What were the catalysts for this impressive transformation? What was wrong with IT before and how was it resolved? What lessons from the successive IT implementations can be drawn for the road ahead? What could KCC have done better ? What were the critical points on its path from IT paralysis and the critical success factors for the IT implementations? And what were the most important gains from this venture?