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Highland Council's aim of ridding itself of a troubled £40 million IT contract reaches a 'major milestone' as staff set to transfer to the local authority as it brings the service in-house

By Scott Maclennan

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Highland Council has endured a number of serious IT issues in recent years, including over the Covid period.
Highland Council has endured a number of serious IT issues in recent years, including over the Covid period.

Highland Council has reached a “major milestone” in its ambitious bid to ditch a troubled £40 million IT services contract and bring it in-house, potentially saving around £1 million a year.

The milestone sees the first tranche of 15 engineers leaving Wipro – the IT company – and joining the local authority in what is a key element of the plan to retain staff in the north.

That first transfer will be followed by other teams moving in November this year and more in April 2022, after that more staff will be recruited increasing the size of the IT team from 40 to over 130 – all based in the Highlands.

By taking control of IT support, the council expects to see a number of benefits, including reduced costs, increased flexibility to deal with change and less dependency on external contractors.

Overall, the scheme – subbed Project Dochas – will see the council leave Wipro after years of problems including major delays in installing new equipment and software that seriously affected services.

In 2018, the company was forced to fund a full-blown recovery plan after a major system crash left IT services in tatters in schools, leisure centres and offices and with people unable to pay council tax through PayPoint systems.

The chairman of the Corporate Resources Committee, Councillor Jimmy Gray, said: “I’m very pleased to see the successful transfer of staff from Wipro happening as planned and I’d like to welcome the new team into the council.

“This isn’t just a great opportunity for the council – it also means that highly skilled jobs are being retained in the Highlands so there are benefits too for local communities.

“It’s also very encouraging to see the commitment to creating more modern apprentice opportunities in the team that should encourage more young people to start on a career in ICT in the Highlands. I also hope that there will be wider opportunities here for the local IT industry.”

Related Story – Highland Council looks to save up to £1 million a year by taking the massive spend on IT in-house

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