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October 2016
« Sep    

Heading North – Mobilizing the Digital Market Makers of the future

#TechNorth. #digitalnorth. #northernpowerhouse.

The resurgence last month in twitter activity (3805720 views, 1007 contributors, 1480+ tweets) for these handles alone in the last week) around the North’s technology sector is symptom of the region’s growing digital status. A recent Tech Nation Report 2016 stated that digital workers in Leeds earn more than anyone else in the North, closely followed by Manchester, Newcastle & Durham, Liverpool, Sheffield and Rotherham. The digital sector is now estimated to be worth a whopping £1.7billion to the region with which has seen unprecedented growth levels of up to 10x between 2012 and 2015 some cases of non-digital/tech related jobs;

Leeds                            29%

Newcastle & Durham      27%

Sunderland                    26%

Edinburgh                      26%

Southampton                 25%

Change is afoot

Whilst London and the M4 corridor STILL attract both highest paid and largest % of tech jobs anywhere in the UK, a regional change is afoot and how to best harness this digital shift is a topic that’s trending up and down the country.

The NorthernPowerHouse’s own report recommended the need to “Establish digital immersion events” – Public Service teams should consider organizing events with nearby tech communities in order to share procurement knowledge and better understand local needs and strengths”

Collective Commercial Clout

With a view to fomenting the collective commercial clout of local tech communities, regional public service delivery teams, local and global digital industrials as well representatives from government Jisc Communications are bringing to Sheffield Town Hall their first Digital Enterprise 2020 conference, on the 30th and 31st of January 2017.

More than a tech meet up and a long way from the faceless multi tech vendor marketplaces of a regular IT gatherings, Enterprise 2020 will drive relevant business discussions rather than sponsor plenaries on products. Jisc Communications is seeking to bring together at Enterprise 2020 a core group of people serving the Public Sector in the North of England to drive discussions around the “what ifs” and the “if onlys” of a Digital economy.

Digitzed Citizen Centric Support

If you are tasked with delivering digitized citizen centric support that meet the Digital and Cloud First Agendas then Enterprise 2020 asks you to register to share, understand and discuss with peers how you can work with both Global and Local technology businesses and SME’s to create the digital services and solutions needed for today’s citizens.

The day will include digital perspectives from:

Industry Thought Leaders

Sporting luminaries

Business Innovators

Digital Market Makers Meet

Enterprise 2020 is about bringing together – the digital market makers of the North – to discuss the technology of today, tomorrow and more importantly to understand where to innovate and meet the unique requirements of the public sector. We’ll discuss recommendations from the NorthernPowerHouse:

  • Making the North a testbed for experimental tech
  • Creating a ‘Procurement Powerhouse’
  • Pooling the resources of university outreach teams

Register for free at – shape the Public Sector digital debate in Sheffield

Jisc Commercial supports opportunities for digital communities across the country to execute against the Powerhouse recommendations. The group is a wholly owned subsidiary of Jisc and seeks to bring the benefits of Janet (a universally recognized super network formally the preserve of universities and research organizations) to entities organizations within government. The shared digital platform they promote is the ALTERNATIVE NETWORK powers a market place of Government approved suppliers on the many Crown Commercial Services frameworks.

For more information on the event visit:

HERE Reality Lens –3D capture and collection which enables real Enterprise Solutions

If you are involved in managing and maintaining a city’s assets and infrastructure, GIS and engineering projects, join this webinar to learn how the new Reality Lens tool-suite can help visualise, map and measure your infrastructure direct from your desktop, delivering real cost savings and productivity benefits.

When: Tuesday 4th October 2016……2pm-3pm BST (one hour)

The webinar includes an introduction by Andrew Coote – Director WhereConsulting, which will focus on GeoSpatial solutions in Urban Planning.


HERE has been capturing highly accurate geospatial data for more than 30 years and leads the way in the deployment of next generation reality capture to provide lidar-enabled 3D map imagery. Capturing over 700 thousand new points per second, this high-precision geospatial and 3D point cloud data is now available for managing Enterprise applications through HERE’s new product called Reality Lens.

Reality Lens is a unique and scalable tool for infrastructure asset management, GIS and engineering projects that enable you to access complete urban environments. In the webinar we will describe how the map and measure features allow you to locate and gauge your assets with centimetre precision or visualise future constructions.



Webinar highlights:

    • An introduction by Andrew Coote – a respected industry leader in the application of geospatial solutions within local Government and urban planning.
    • A detailed look at how HERE has used its leadership in 3D imagery and reality capture to create Reality Lens and how it can make a key contribution to city infrastructure planning and management.
    • An interactive demonstration of the Reality Lens tool using live London data

Who is the webinar aimed at?

People involved in the provision of UK public service or transport infrastructure, utilities, and construction or urban mobility projects – we will demonstrate how Reality Lens can deliver productivity benefits and real cost savings by reducing transportation or data collection costs.

Register now by clicking the box below:

For more details on HERE reality Lens go to:

EEM Supply Chain Showcase 2016

Exhibition from 2014-2105

Exhibition from 2014-2105

The EEM Supply Chain Showcase takes place in Nottingahm on 29 & 30 September 2016.

EEM Ltd is free to join, not for profit organisation supporting 63 public sector organisations in finding best value products & services through collaborative procurement. EEM secure contracts with 100’s of suppliers and manufacturers, covering all aspects of repairs, maintenance and construction on behalf of our 63 members which results in best value rates and efficiency savings.

EEM Ltd procures all Contracts and Frameworks through the EU creating a compliant and efficient service for the Public Sector reducing both internal and external costs through being a free service.

As a not-for-profit organisation, EEM donates any operating surplus back to the members for the member to use for community projects.

In September 2016 EEM shall be distributing £144,000 in Community Donations, examples of the amounts to be given are: Nottingham £44,213.34, Chesterfield £10,660.67, Mansfield £6,053.93 and Derby 10,794.76.

EEM Supply Chain Showcase 29 & 30 September 2016

WhatA 2-day exhibition style and networking event with up to 73 exhibitors supporting the Public Sector (Repairs, Refurbishment and New-build).

Exhibitors: Manufacturers, suppliers and contractors relating to construction and maintenance of social housing and other public sector property.

Invited: All UK public sector organisations, including Housing Providers, Authorities, Universities, Hospitals and the Blue Light Services.

Why: To meet with manufacturers, distributors and contractors who have been procured through an open EU process and to identify efficiency savings through aggregation and volume procurement at no direct cost to the Public Sector.

Where: Trent Vineyard Conference Centre, Nottingham, NG7 2PX

The 2-day event is split into the following themes:

Day 1: Thursday 29th September 2016: 10.00am – 3.00pm Planned and responsive repairs and maintenance.

Day 2: Friday 30th September 2016: 10.00am – 3.00pm New Build Development and associated services.

Day 1 – Repairs & Maintenance.

Tickets: Free to all Public Sector bodies and Housing Providers. Free entry, Free Coffee and Free Lunch.

For more information and to register please visit:

New sentencing guidelines mean there’s nowhere to hide on health and safety compliance

Gary Plant, MD, Altius

By Gary Plant, Managing Director of supplier assessment and compliance specialist Altius

With stiffer sentencing guidelines for health and safety, corporate manslaughter and food safety and hygiene offences now in force for England and Wales, public sector organisations should tighten up health and safety compliance.

While organisations may have robust procedures internally, what about health and safety processes of those delivering your outsourced services. It’s necessary to ensure compliance across your entire supply chain.

New sentencing guidelines, which came into force on 1 February 2016, aim to create a consistent, fair and proportionate approach to sentencing organisations or individuals convicted of corporate manslaughter, health and safety and food safety and hygiene offences.

Hitherto, guidance for the courts in dealing with less serious health and safety and food safety offences has been lacking. The comprehensive new guidelines cover the most commonly sentenced health and safety offences and food safety offences in England and Wales.

According to the Sentencing Council, this could cover: “a building firm that causes the death of an employee by not providing the proper equipment for working at height, a restaurant that causes an outbreak of e. coli poisoning through unsafe food preparation, a manufacturer that causes injury to a new worker by not providing training for operating machinery or a gas fitter whose sub-standard work leads to the risk of an explosion in someone’s home.”

Altius Exigo software screen shot

Altius Exigo software screen shot

Large organisations (taking into account turnover or other measures of financial health) committing serious offences could feel the full force of the changes in higher penalties. The Sentencing Council has stated that some offenders will be subject to higher penalties, particularly large organisations responsible for more serious offences. But it says that fines will be “fair and proportionate to the seriousness of the offence and the means of offenders.” As such, the guidelines set out sentencing ranges that reflect the varied levels of risk of harm that can result from such offences.

The guidelines provide a starting point and a range of possible fines dependent on the seriousness of the offence and how culpable the offender is judged to be. This could range from minor failings in procedures to deliberately dangerous acts. For serious health and safety breaches, individual company directors could face prison sentences and heavy fines.

The new guidelines mean there is nowhere to hide when it comes to facing up to health and safety breaches and even if procedures and policies are robust in your own organisation, you could face exposure from suppliers. It is critical for organisations to scrutinise their health and safety policies, training  and compliance, and ensure that risk is assessed across the entire supply chain and standards are applied and continuously monitored.

It’s more crucial than ever before that organisations have robust compliance procedures. This might mean swapping archaic spreadsheet-based compliance systems for more agile compliance software systems that provide total supply chain visibility and a complete health and safety compliance audit trail that is easily accessible and retrievable should a company end up defending itself.

Altius’ managed compliance services and software solutions help public sector organisations to manage compliance across their entire supply chain.

Request a free demo of Altius’ Exigo compliance software system that makes health and safety management easy

Further information

10 signs that it’s time for a supplier health check

Gary Plant, Managing Director - Altius Vendor Assessment

Gary Plant_Managing Director – Altius Vendor Assessment

By Gary Plant, Managing Director of supplier assessment and compliance specialist Altius

External suppliers can help public sector organisations reduce cost, boost efficiency and improve quality. But the flip side is that they can also bring liability in the guise of delays, problems, waste, extra cost and adverse PR.

Here’s 10 possible warning signs that you might need to run a supplier health check.

  1. You don’t have perfect 20:20 vision of your suppliers, contractors and service providers.

Supply chain blind spots are a common symptom of sickly supply chains. Ask yourself: Do you have full visibility of your suppliers and contractors? Are you able to plot trends and spot weaknesses by mapping the full historical data? Do you have sub-contractors in your sights?

  1. You have data overload.

Have the simple spreadsheets you set up years ago grown enormous and complex? Do these spreadsheets align with your other back office systems? Can you use the information collaboratively. How easy is it to  turn the information into useful management reports and instantly retrieve requested data? If you are relying on manual processes to manage a large supply chain, chances are that you will be drowning in data.

  1. You’re taking no chances and audit everyone.

There’s no doubt that seeing something with your own eyes gives you an extra degree of confidence, but it’s expensive and often ineffective. The frequently audited supplier can becoming proficient at passing audits. Audits can be a very powerful tool if used sparingly and positively, but when overdone they become a drain on both supplier and client.

  1. Your cyber defence and data protection strategy is still on the to-do list.

One of the newest threats to your supply chain is going to get bigger and more sinister in years to come. Failing to ensure that your suppliers are cyber-compliant and data protection measures are in order can leave your business open to catastrophic breaches of data and large associated fines. Make sure a comprehensive cyber defence and data protection strategy is in place and regularly update to combat the latest threats.

  1. You don’t have clear accountability lines for assuring subcontractors.

A common concern among managers is that while they’ve got good assurance that their suppliers and contractors are in good shape, their visibility of the next tier down of the supply chain is poor.  The natural tendency is to want to gain assurance of that tier and beyond too. These conscientious managers  often start the process of getting to  know who the sub-suppliers are and start checking them, but the process is long and complex so it isn’t always completed.  Sometimes they will insist sub-suppliers are chosen from an approved list.  But when things go wrong, the first tier supply will rightly point out that you, the client, said that the sub-supplier was OK.  With the best intentions, you’ve taken away their responsibility and accountability to manage their suppliers.

  1. Your insurance bill is eyewatering.

Rising insurance premiums may be a signal that there’s risk lurking among your outsourced services and your insurer doesn’t believe you have things under full control. By demonstrating that you have a grip on supplier compliance, you should see premiums fall.

  1. Team members are tightly stretched

Have you got too many people bogged down in non-value added, reactive activities? Are you under-using their skills to manage a clunky supplier compliance process? Wouldn’t it be better to utilise their talents for value added activities, such as developing supply contracts, rather than supervising and ‘policing’ them.

  1. You worry about legal action.

If things go wrong with outsourced contracts, how easy would it be to defend your actions? Have you got a full audit trail of all the up to the minute evidence available to instantly view and download anytime and anywhere?

  1. You’re asking too much from supplier assessment.

Is your supplier assessment tailored precisely to the risk each supplier represents and proportional and reasonable?  Are your suppliers asked to jump though unnecessary hoops and assessed on criteria that have no relevance to the work they will undertake for you?  Do you stress your contractors out  each and every year, rather than keeping a continuous dialogue going and updating their evidence, as required?

  1. There’s a ‘dark’ side to your compliance process.

Does your assessment system simply measure compliance and financial solvency once a year – leaving you in the ‘dark’ about the other 364 days and crossing your fingers that you’ve got things covered for the entire 12 months. What happens when there’s new legislation or business requirements? In these instances, do you have to wait until the assessment anniversary to bring compliance up to date?

Altius has launched an online supply chain health check tool that will demonstrate how much  visibility and control you have and identify possible areas of risk.  Supply chain managers submitting answers to the quick online questionnaire receive a customised report highlighting strengths and weaknesses in their supplier relationships and suggested actions for improvement.

Complete the supply chain health check at:

Police and health services working to help people with mental health needs

Support Worker Nicholas Blunt, PC Michael Clarke, Specialist Mental Health Practitioner Louise Shaw

Support Worker Nicholas Blunt, PC Michael Clarke, Specialist Mental Health Practitioner Louise Shaw

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) and local health services are working in partnership to help people with mental health needs who frequently come into contact with the police.

A 12 month pilot will see mental health professionals from Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust based at the Rochdale Police Station. They will work alongside a dedicated police co-ordinator to help identify and engage with people with mental health needs who routinely come into contact with the police services. Once identified, the Mental Health Practitioner will assess if the vulnerable individual requires further support from either mental health, social care or other support services.

Louise Shaw, Specialist Mental Health Practitioner at Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, said “This is a new and exciting opportunity to build upon the relationship between local mental health and police services.

“It is evidence of the commitment from the local NHS and the police in providing a strong and successful partnership with the common aim of improving the quality of life for some of the most vulnerable within our community.

“We are confident that this will not only bring about positive changes to the lives of people in need, but it will also reduce the demand on the police, health and social care and other support services in our local area.”

Chief Superintendent Chris Sykes said: “Our foremost objective with this pilot is to provide the most effective care and support to those with mental health issues, as soon we are aware of their needs. Having mental health professionals on hand will speed up this process and in turn benefit those most in need.”

Clinical Lead for the Clinical Commissioning Group, Dr Anirban Roy has been instrumental in shaping the pilot, he said; “The team from Rochdale are already working with a number of people who have frequent contact with the police, and with the support of other health professionals are identifying problem cases before they can escalate, helping to reduce the demand placed on a number of front line emergency services. We are confident that the pilot will not only improve the health and wellbeing of these individuals, it will be positive for the community as a whole.”

Joining Louise Shaw on the pilot project will be Mental Health Support Worker Nicholas Blunt, with support from police co-ordinator PC Michael Clarke.

Dulux Trade Owner, AkzoNobel Helps HACT Launch Social Value & Procurement Toolkit

Andy Brewin, Social Housing and Social Value Business Manager, AkzoNobel

Andy Brewin, Social Housing and Social Value Business Manager, AkzoNobel

Dulux Trade brand owner, AkzoNobel was named as a key contributor to the development of a new toolkit at its launch last week – Social Value and Procurement: A toolkit for housing providers and contractors – that defines and measures social value through the life cycle of the procurement process.

The toolkit developed by HACT with the support of solicitors, Trowers & Hamlins LLP and procurement specialists, echelon Consultancy Ltd alongside contractors and Housing Associations, enables Housing Providers to quantify and measure social value generated through the supply chain. The HACT social value methodology, Wellbeing Valuation , provides a consistent mechanism to enable contractors and manufacturers to identify and respond to the needs of registered providers.

AkzoNobel was the only manufacturer on the HACT-led working group that designed the toolkit, demonstrating the company’s commitment to helping Housing Providers and contractors define and deliver social value within procured contracts.  The toolkit will enable companies bidding for contracts in the housing sector, including Dulux Trade Contract Partners, to clarify precisely how they will drive social value through delivery of the contract.

Andy Brewin, Social Housing and Social Value Business Manager, AkzoNobel, one of the speakers at the launch, spoke of his optimism that the new HACT toolkit will help the supply chain to achieve ambitious targets linked to social value measures. He also told the audience of professionals from the Housing Provider, Authority and developer community including Northern Housing Consortium, Wandle and Wates that the toolkit will help to positively impact the lives of people living and working within the social housing sector. Reiterating the responsibility of companies throughout the supply chain to drive forward and improve social value ratings, Andy Brewin used AkzoNobel as an example of a manufacturer that not only uses its paints to demonstrate social value but that is committed to driving up and improving training prospects and skills-based learning for housing sector beneficiaries.

Andy Brewin, AkzoNobel said: “We are delighted to have been invited to work with HACT and the other partners on the development of the toolkit. It was important to us as a company to contribute to its development from the point of view of a manufacturer as the whole supply chain has to be considered if attempting to seamlessly deliver social value through the procurement process.”

“Our participation has allowed us to evaluate our own social value to the housing sector. Our social value will be measured through our future product or service developments, through our brands such as Dulux Trade, our new training facility, the Dulux Academy for professional decorators, trainees and apprentices and through the scheme we run for our Contract Partners.  Our participation on the working group has reinforced that manufacturers, contractors, Housing Providers and Authorities need to be aligned so that they can recognise and meet the needs of the people that they serve.”

For further information about the toolkit, please visit or

Frameworks: a victim of their own success?

Mark Hall

Mark Hall

By Mark Hall, public sector director at Redcentric; and Peter Nailer, senior bid manager at Redcentric

From vehicle hire to laundry services to enterprise technology – there are now countless purchasing frameworks for almost anything the public sector needs to buy. Take the Digital Marketplace, specifically covering technology. The several frameworks within it, such as G-Cloud, comprise numerous different lots with each of these offering a variety of technology choices. Add to this all of the other buying organisations and their frameworks and quickly the options for the public sector buyer become complex and downright confusing! As an IT services provider included on frameworks such as G-Cloud 7 and the NOECPC Hosting framework, at Redcentric we have had a front row view of how frameworks have evolved. Originally established to help simplify purchasing (particularly for smaller public sector buyers with limited buying power) and bring cohesion to public sector procurement, there have been many success stories. However, as the number of frameworks grows by the day, are frameworks still doing the job they set out to?

Considering that sales over G-Cloud recently hit £1 billion, it is clear to see that this framework has achieved its goal. With some 1,900 approved suppliers in place it has created a highly competitive marketplace centred on the government’s ground breaking ‘Cloud First’ strategy for both SMEs and large IT suppliers.

The conditions set by G-Cloud encourage fairness by ensuring a level of transparency. For example, suppliers have to publicly display pricing on the framework to give each other an accurate view of what they are charging, allowing competitors to set their rates accordingly. Also thanks to G-Cloud contracts not exceeding two years, buyers aren’t stuck with suppliers for an excessive length of time, and can rethink their options as they themselves evolve.

But the benefits and adoption of G-Cloud do not resonate across many other frameworks. Some place a cap on the number of suppliers able to win a place on the framework effectively creating monopolies dominated by big players who have the resources to apply. These caps fail to properly harness competitiveness amongst suppliers and do little to encourage them to innovate. Some framework contracts are set for as much as four years, tying organisations into long relationships that may go beyond their requirements.

The increase in volume of frameworks is also a problem. This rise is partly due to fact that any organisation operating in the public or not-for-profit sector has the authority to establish a framework and encourage other organisations to use it – provided they comply with EU law. Everything from schools and colleges to district councils and charities have done so, drawn to the commercial gains and incentives. For every sale made over a framework the founder receives a commission of between 1 and 5%.

Frameworks, a victim of their own success

Frameworks: a victim of their own success

So let’s consider, does the current framework landscape meet its goal: to make public sector buying easier and more cohesive? The answer is complex- in some cases, like G-Cloud, the answer is yes, in many cases the answer is no.

Speaking from a supplier perspective, the sheer volume of frameworks that exist, even just in relation to IT, create pressure to apply for a place on them all in order to avoid missing out on potential business. This can be a full time job, with smaller suppliers who lack resources pushed out. Once again this means that larger suppliers are likely to realise greater opportunities, reducing the ability of frameworks to deliver a level playing field. But more worryingly is the impact on innovation. As the choice of suppliers diminishes so too does the choice of innovative and cutting-edge solutions from start-ups that lack experience and funds to gain a place on the framework.

As technology frameworks have increased in public sector procurement, the IT community has responded with a rise in the level of subcontracting used to deliver the work required against them. However, this goes against the transparency that frameworks are meant to provide. Naturally for simplicity sake, IT managers tend to prefer a single supplier to meet all of the organisation’s needs, meaning that many IT suppliers have to outsource to deliver the full service. But this too favours the big suppliers, as they can afford to win a place on the framework, but then subcontract most of the work to smaller companies who can only be on a framework via their contractee. Larger suppliers retain a cut of the profit generated from the sale, passing small margins on to contractors who deliver much of the work.

Public sector buyers are already faced with complexities when using frameworks to procure resources. While the frameworks aim to support buyers by undertaking compliance checks of suppliers, there can still be a burden on the buyer as regulations change or are updated. Take the Public Contracts Regulations 2015, which is available in a 127 page document at While it’s down to suppliers to review and ensure they’re compliant, it’s often a non-procurement professional, such as an IT manager, who is the one making a technology purchasing decision with limited knowledge, understanding or time to review regulations.

So how can the situation be improved? Firstly a holistic review of all frameworks in operation across the public sector would help to show where effort is being duplicated and if there is an opportunity to pool the buying power of multiple framework operators and buying organisations. Frameworks need to start properly delivering on the goal of bringing the buying power of many public sector organisations together, to forge better deals and consistency, rather than just flooding the market with different options. There should be more regulation of framework provision, rather than an open book, ‘the more the merrier’, approach.

The popularity of a framework approach has certainly taken off, but in recent years we’ve seen the market grow in complexity rather than simplify purchasing. With large companies still dominating an increasing number of frameworks, and many lacking transparency with regards to sub-contracting, it’s possible the market may well end up counter-productive. Clearly this is where the success of G-Cloud should be heralded as a way forward for other service areas and lead others by example.

While the copious amount of frameworks may baffle public sector buyers, service providers can step in to help reduce the confusion. Redcentric offers a free consultation service in line with the ‘Cloud First’ goal. Our service establishes how Cloud and hybrid options can help specific public sector organisations achieve their objectives, and determines what digital services they will benefit from. The benefit of Cloud, including flexibility and remote working, are too plentiful not to adopt. And a successful implementation starts with a consultation to see how it can best suit the individual organisation.

To discover how Redcentric keeps it simple – providing efficient, secure and flexible Cloud solutions for the UK public sector contact us on:

Call: 0808 164 3515



Oldham Council welcome Transport for Greater Manchester green bus proposal

Oldham Council welcome Transport for Greater Manchester proposal to switch to new battery powered buses in the future.

The Leader of the Opposition and of the Liberal Democrat Group on Oldham Council, Councillor Howard Sykes MBE, has welcomed the announcement earlier this week that officials from Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) have met with the Volvo Bus Corporation to discuss proposals to replace the current bus fleet with a new electric fleet run on rechargeable batteries.

Councillor Sykes represents Oldham Council on the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee (TfGMC). On hearing the news he said:

“I am pleased that Volvo have indicated that they would like to start a trial of up of thirty new battery-powered buses in Manchester city centre in 2017, and that they would also like to back this with an investment in charging points. I look forward to the day when these buses run in Oldham and they will help make a contribution to tackling the air quality issues we have.”

“The Liberal Democrats firmly believe that making our public transport system greener must be seen as a priority,” added Councillor Sykes. “We need to move away from fuel-guzzling, carbon-emitting vehicles to clean, quiet electric vehicles. We have already made progress with hybrid vehicles but this represents the next step. I look forward to the day when passengers can ride on any bus knowing that they have made a green choice for their journey.”


Legalex 2LEGALEX, 11-12 May 2016, ExCel London – stand L554

PHS Data Solutions, a division of the PHS Group, will be promoting at Legalex, their latest document protection and digitalisation schemes to help legal practices combat data security threats.

As data protection laws demand more proactivity from company executives, business information security defences must be strong to protect practices and to avoid serious data breaches and the associated stiff penalties.

PHS Data Solutions is a leading player in the scanning, storage and shredding industry for a variety of sectors including Government and legal organisations. It offers outstanding services to support Law firms who need to bring their business practice into the digital age.

Courtrooms across the UK are being catapulted into the digital age by the Ministry of Justice’s digitalisation programme which aims to make obsolete the 160 million sheets of paper generated by the courts each year. Legal firms will need to make sure they are up to speed with the digital super highway and its requirements for compliance if they are to remain at the forefront of their industry.

Scanning and data capture solutions and services, such as those offered by PHS Data Solutions, enable organisations to capture, process, manage, retrieve and share business-critical documents, archives and information digitally across and between organisations. Information flow and security is improved resulting in businesses needing much less space for the storage of documents and allowing them to rest assured that they have a robust system in place to minimise data breaches.

The legal sector has obligations to keep paper records which may create large quantities of paperwork needing management and storage. PHS Data Solutions offers a secure off-site document management facility that can also provide a scanning service to avoid transportation costs and any potential for loss in transit of important information.

Nowadays many businesses are required to keep confidential client information, as well as employee or company data, for a minimum amount of time. This could include: employee agreements, business loan documentation, litigation records and many sensitive documents which require careful management. It is important not to just be compliant but to carefully dispose of documents you may no longer need. The risks of keeping old documents containing sensitive data can be high, possible resulting in identity theft, fraud and potential financial loss or reputational damage.

At Legalex PHS Data Solutions will demonstrate how to create a sole chain of custody for the most sensitive of data which ensures a minimum of risk of being breached. The company is renowned for providing tailored and unique document digitisation services and solutions to meet each client’s individual requirements. It numbers amongst its clients Ward Hadaway (one of the UK’s Top 100 law firms).

The company’s UK team will be on hand at the exhibition to answer any questions which Law firms may have on how to spring clean their document scanning, storage and destruction processes. PHS Data Solutions Managing Director, Anthony Pearlgood, said: “We are delighted to make our debut at Legalex and to be able to showcase our document protection schemes. We really can help businesses stay secure and provide them with business continuity following any scenario.”

Legalex must be a priority if your legal practice needs to know how to address the demands of business digitisation and the safe-keeping or destruction of sensitive data. Be sure to visit PHS Data Solutions on stand L554 and find out more about what one of the UK’s leading document capture and conversion specialists can do to help deliver a complete workflow solution for your business.

If you can’t make the show but would like more information then contact Ruth Williams, Head of Marketing on 029 20809111 or email or

Outsourcing: How to save money and time on supplier assessment and contractor compliance

The Altius supplier assessment and supply chain compliance framework

The Altius supplier assessment and supply chain compliance framework

By Gary Plant, Managing Director of supplier assessment and compliance specialist Altius

Outsourcing can help tightly stretched public sector budgets stretch further and free up resources. But it can go spectacularly wrong if your supplier assessment and compliance systems are weak, or you don’t have good visibility of your contractors and their sub contractors.

Say no to spreadsheets

You don’t need superpowers to cure supply chain blind spots and reduce risk, but you do need modern software systems. Spreadsheets and questionnaires are the ‘kryptonite’ that weakens effective outsourcing and supplier management. These manual processes are slow, cumbersome, time consuming, and inflexible.

By making use of specialist software, public sector managers can simplify the task and minimise the cost of compliance management. This will mean that managers can focus on developing supplier value, rather than supervising and ‘policing’ the contract.

Modern software systems, such as Altius’ Exigo, can keep pace with rapid change and contract growth, and can be used collaboratively. The flexible software package also integrates with other back office systems to retrieve audit evidence and generate quick management reports.

Three steps to compliance

Managers can follow a three-step compliance process, which is underpinned by Altius’ Exigo software solution.

1.Assess capability

a. Supplier information is needed to establish capability to carry out the service or deliver the product required. But there’s little point in gathering the same information for each supplier. It must be pertinent to the service they are providing or goods they are supplying.

b. Verify the supplier information – don’t take the claims of a supplier, always verify that their credentials are valid. Checks that are carried out on supplier information should always be evidence based and may involve verification with certification bodies or insurance companies. This evidence shouldn’t just be checked once a year, it should always be live, up to date and instantly retrievable.

c. Authorise the information – once a supplier is thoroughly checked and approved, ensure that only approved suppliers are used by all departments. All too often the reality is that different departments stray from the approved suppliers list to appoint non-approved suppliers based on cheaper price. This can prove very costly if that decision also ‘buys-in’ risk.

2.Manage supply contracts

a. Set clear policies and rules – for clear mutual understanding of expectations. Share with the supplier and their employees exactly the kind of work that they have been verified to carry out – in granular detail. Don’t permit them to do work outside of the scope you’ve checked them for.

b. Contracts and specification – formalise your requirements so that nothing is left to chance.

c. Controls and restraints – ensure that suppliers understand any control processes that need to be followed, e.g. site access control on construction sites, exposure to heat, radiation, etc.

3.Monitor suppliers

a. Behaviour – don’t let the robustness of your monitoring lull your suppliers into complacency and remove their sense of responsibility for their own compliance and performance. It’s important to be clear about where accountability lies, particularly where sub contractors are involved.

b. Audit – while physical audits have their place, technology can be used at lower cost to provide an audit trail This can replace sprawling spreadsheets – minimising timescales and maximising efficiency.

c. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) – it’s often said that what doesn’t get measured doesn’t get done. It’s important to gather, measure and analyse statistics that illustrate whether the desired outcomes and objectives were achieved, e.g. . % delivered on time, % fixed first time, % call outs achieved within target time.

How Exigo software helps

The Exigo software can be configured to assess performance and compliance for many business areas, such as health and safety, bribery and corruption policies, CSR, quality, environmental and employment law, and information and data security compliance

It is cloud-based, so requires no hardware or software installation, and  integrates with existing enterprise systems. It provides automated report generation and data exportation compatible with other business formats, such as Excel.

Control and transparency

Screenshot showing the Altius Exigo compliance software system.

Screenshot showing the Altius Exigo compliance software system.

Unlike spreadsheets and questionnaires, Exigo allows you to formulate your company’s requirements and convey these quickly and easily to your suppliers. Changes can be factored in quickly and easily and you and your suppliers can work collaboratively..


Exigo provides a real-time view of compliance, enabling you to check the current and past status of any supplier at any time. It instantly highlights your weak points and potential issues, allowing you to resolve them before they become a risk.


When things go wrong you need to be in a position to identify how and why. Exigo tracks everything automatically. Its built-in audit trail enables you to retrieve the exact status of a supplier from any previous point in time, along with the evidence and rationale for the decisions made.
Take a look at the Exigo video and request a demo of the software:

Further information

GPSJ exclusive: School children subjected to online abuse in class when using live streaming apps

Many broadcasts live during school hoursBy Stuart Littleford MCIJ

Police are investigating after the Government & Public Sector Journal (GPSJ) discovered school children being asked to indecently expose themselves live online during lesson time.

The school children are using a popular live streaming app installed on their smart phones to broadcast live to thousands of viewers around the world. Teachers are unaware of what is going on as the children are cleverly hiding their phones out of sight.

At one school, Becket Keys Church of England School, in Brentford, Essex, two female pupils were seen publicly broadcasting live during one lesson with their teacher present at the front of the class, totally unaware of what was taking place, the girls chatted to viewers live on their phone and showed various shots of the classroom and the teacher.

Two viewers asked one of the schoolgirls to “film up her skirt” and another asked one of them to expose her breasts, another said he wanted to “f*** their brains out”, all these vile remarks were seen by hundreds of other viewers. There was a constant flow of generally abusive and degrading sexual comments made to the children whilst they were online.

Another school, Greenshaw High School in Sutton, Surrey, saw two girls streaming live from a lesson with their phone cleverly hidden between two computer monitors and out of sight of their teacher, they proceeded to give out their social media contact details to viewers who asked for them – with one viewer asking if they “were watching porn”.

A female pupil at the Harris Academy Falconwood, in Kent, had her phone hidden in her school bag and was able to talk into it unnoticed during her lesson, one comment amongst many made to her was “you show boobs”, the broadcast ended abruptly as the teacher came to stand nearby.

Other live feeds showed schoolgirls in a PE lesson at a South of England academy, again online strangers made lewd sexual comments including “I am wa**ing over you” and “get your t*ts out”.

Pupils at secondary schools in towns such as Hull, Huddersfield, Barnet, Haringey, Lewisham, Derby, Sutton, Greenwich, Newham, Lewisham, Enfield, Haringey and many more, have been seen broadcasting live from lessons, leaving them open to the same type of online abuse. These live feeds are taking place all over the UK at all times of the school day and for different lengths of time.

Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth and Shadow Minister for Disabled People, said: “This is a shocking revelation by the Government & Public Sector Journal.”

Although none of the broadcasts we saw showed any sexual or indecent images, the comments made by some of those watching was clearly an attempt to have the girls expose themselves sexually. Many law enforcement agencies and child protection units would class this as grooming and exploitation. The ages of those contacting the girls could not be determined though due to the anonymity of the site.

GPSJ immediately contacted all the schools that could be identified to ensure they could follow their safeguarding procedures to ensure the safety of the children. None of the schools we contacted were prepared to provide us with any comment over our findings.

Ironically, mixed in with the list of live broadcasts from schools was a live meeting of the Warwickshire Police and Crime Panel.

A leading children’s charity said it was extremely concerned at the way social media was being used in schools and that makers of such apps should act responsibly to help protect children.

Barnardo’s chief executive, Javed Khan said: “It’s deeply shocking that children are being groomed and exploited via this social media app while in school where they should be safe. “A wider conversation needs to be had around how children use their phones and the consequences in school and at home. The companies making apps must exercise social responsibility and moderate content to help protect children and alert police to sexual predators – here in the UK and across the globe. “Technology has inevitably changed the way young people communicate and meet online. Barnardo’s wants lessons on sex and healthy relationships to be compulsory in all schools, so children can understand the risks of social media apps like this.”

A Department for Education spokesperson told us: “Nothing is more important than keeping our children safe. Our statutory guidance is crystal clear that anyone who has concerns about pupils’ welfare should refer to local authorities or the police if a crime is committed, and all schools must act swiftly on allegations. All schools must have designated safeguarding leads and staff should speak to them with any worries about a child’s welfare.”

Politicians have also told us that the government should now make it one of its top priorities to ensure children are given adequate sex and relationships education, and are fully aware of online dangers.

Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth and Shadow Minister for Disabled People, said: “This is a shocking revelation by the Government & Public Sector Journal and we must all do everything we can to warn children, their parents, carers, and schools about the potential dangers.

“Labour has highlighted increasing evidence that access to new media and technology is creating new and unprecedented risks for young people.

“We’ve also said that we want to make personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) classes, which covers age appropriate sex education, compulsory in all state-funded schools in England and this would be one of the first things Labour would do in government. On the other hand the Government is only saying it will keep the subject’s status under review.

“This seems short-sighted to me when you consider the official guidance to all schools, including academies, on sex-and-relationships education has not been updated since 2000, before the smartphone generation were even born.

“The Government really should make this issue a priority and stop stalling.

“The longer they stall the more young people will be hurt by this misuse of modern technology.”

A headmaster at one London school, who wished to remain anonymous, told GPSJ: “At our school (an 11-18 London inner city comprehensive) phones are not allowed to be used, seen or heard whilst on the school site. They are confiscated if seen or heard and returned at the end of the week. This is done for two reasons – distraction from learning and the concerns about inappropriate use.

“In addition to this all students receive instruction on the safe use of phones, social networking and electronic communication through their ICT and PSHE curriculums with additional meetings for parents held each year to discuss issues of concern relating to phone an internet safety.

“We are aware of cases where phones and electronic communication are used inappropriately and we see it as our key duty to keep our students safe. If we were to be aware of any issues compromising safety we would immediately involve parents, police and local authority safeguarding officers immediately.”

Professor John Walker, an expert witness in the field of cyber and digital communications at Westminster University, told us: “Such online exchanges are fraught with danger, just because of the potential of being subjected to grooming by an unknown party who may not be all they appear to be. But the dangers faced also concern such mages being utilised to embarrass, and to implicate the sender to be subjected to blackmail -an incident we have already seen to suffer a tragic outcome.

“It should be incumbent on all schools, and academic institutions who host such young clients to ensure that all staff are aware of the dangers, and that they are prepared to engage when they encounter events which implicate such activities. I would wish also that such institutions are aware of the COPINE and SAP Scale which document in detail the level of an abuse image to assure they are dealt with in accord with the law – and where required reported to the relevant Law Enforcement Authorities.”

The ‘periscope’ app is not only popular with young people, it is used by many businesses, media organisations, police forces and charities to stream meetings and conferences live. Viewers can type comments and ask questions in real time, these are displayed in real time on the screen for all the viewers to see. Love heart symbols can be sent by participants of the feeds to show how much they like the content they are watching.

Government & Public sector Journal has been in contact with the National Crime Agency and CEOP to report our findings, and will be cooperating with any investigations.

A police source has told us they understand one of the pupils identified in these broadcasts has possibly been exchanging “indecent images” of herself through other social media apps.

A spokesperson for the NCA told us: “We need to wait until appropriate enquiries have been made. We cannot comment without better understanding what we are being asked to comment on.

The Library of the Future: giving the public what they want

Grant Palmer, Managing Director of Axiell UK

By Grant Palmer, Managing Director of Axiell UK

With the rise of the internet and the influence that technology has on social behaviour, it’s now possible for people to research, learn and interact without leaving their home or workplace.

So what are the trends impacting public library usage and how can local authorities entice visitors to frequent more often? Grant Palmer, Managing Director of Axiell UK, discusses some of the findings in the recent The Library of the Future report.

Our research shows us that more than half (56%) of those in the UK aged 16 years or over visit their public library, but visits are not a regular occurrence, with people making a trip to their library just 23 times a year on average. Libraries were established as places for reading and learning, so it was not surprising to see that the majority of people are using their library for this very purpose, with around two-thirds (65%) of people visiting their library to borrow a book to read. However, we also identified a number of other drivers that are influencing behaviours and visits. 

Today’s library visitors  

The traditional role of the library is still important. More than half (52%) of adults like borrowing books and educational DVDs from a library rather than buying their own, for example, while 37% told us they make visits to research or work and around a quarter (27%) go for casual reading within the institution itself.

That said, technology and its influence on public libraries continues to dramatically change the landscape. So it was not surprising to learn that around two thirds (67.4%) of adults are interested in seeing at least one new digital element from their public library, from online community pages to eBook borrowing to ICT training in the public library itself. Wi-Fi and broadband services are also a pull for some, with around one in five respondents visiting their libraries to access the internet.

Creating a community hub: new services for greater appeal

Our research revealed that the public places high value on both ‘community’ and the role of the library.

The appetite for community is strong, with 78% of the adults we surveyed agreeing that having a hub for their village or town was important. Engagement is also key, with 77% wanting to know people in their local area and 71% saying they are keen to have a place to meet others in their local community.

When we questioned adults on their views of libraries specifically, a significant 89% agreed that libraries are an important part of the community (46% of these strongly agree). There is a clear opportunity for public libraries to become the hub of the local communities that they serve, but the question is: how?

Evolving the services of the library is key, with 66% of adults saying they would visit their public library more if it offered a better range of services. Demand was high for spaces that offer entertainment and facilitate interaction, including social clubs, coffee shops or cinema rooms to watch short films.

Expanding educational opportunities was also cited, including free language classes, courses to learn digital skills, or the opportunity to meet and talk to experts or authors. A significant 61% of adults also expressed interest in their local library offering services such as a post office or parcel collection desk.

Creating the library of tomorrow means maximising relevance to the community and its citizen demographics. It’s about creating outstanding customer experiences and embracing digital services to engage with patrons wherever and whenever they want to engage, and maintain a position as a critical community service.

With better technology, libraries can understand their customers’ preferences better and use this information to target them with more personalised communications. It’s not about being ‘big data’ experts, but using technology to leverage on data to essentially be able to offer people what they want.

Ultimately, any library engagement strategy needs to be about knowing your audience better and offering services to meet their needs. It is impossible for any librarian to memorise the needs of every visitor, but there are information systems and technology that is ideally placed to do just that – quickly and accurately.

With the right tools in place, libraries can not only work smarter but create an environment that allows staff to focus their time on engaging with and helping members of the community, whether they are in the library, at offsite events or online.

Axiell is the is the leading supplier of IT systems and services to European archives, libraries and museums with technically advanced and innovative solutions developed in close cooperation with its customers.

Adoption of smart technology to help public sector weather the cuts

Paul Excel with the tabs app design award

Paul Excel with the tabs app design award

With technology’s ability to drive efficiencies, cut costs and improve scalability, flexibility, productivity and immediacy, adoption of new smart technologies is increasingly being cited as the antidote to the swathing cuts hitting the public sector. The government’s G-Cloud 7 digital marketplace, where such technology as multi-award winning tabs®( – the 24/7 mobile shift management solution, that can save 40% in recruitment and deployment time and costs, and is fully automated from shift alert, through acceptance and compliance to payroll and sign off – represents a seismic shift from 2010 where only 38% of the public sector were prepared to rely on such technologies, to 78% prepared to do so last year.

By the end of this year local governments will have seen their spending reduced by 35%, compared with 8% in education and a small but welcome 4% increase in health, some councils see a perfect storm on the horizon with an increasing need for elderly social care and yet ever decreasing budgets. That horizon seems primarily in focus in Metropolitan regions, with many urban local authorities stating they face a ‘tipping point’ by the end of 2016. Technology, like tabs® that truly can save local governments 40% in staff implementation, and even drastically reduce reliance on expensive recruitment agencies, could indeed help rebalance this tipping point.

Professional services leader, Grant Thornton’s ‘2016 Tipping Point Report’, the third annual financial health check of English local authorities, stated. “The majority of councils in the south east – with the exception of one single London borough – felt they will approaching a financial tipping point during 2016/17 and expected that to extend into 2018. Councils in the south west, Midlands and the north concurred. And while many local government leaders are realistic enough to accept the inevitability of the government’s funding policies, some commentators question the sustainability of the current funding model.”

PWC, another professional service giant say in their public sector blog. “The promise to free councils from their council tax caps if they agree to invest more in social care – though welcome – is not the long-term answer to making elderly care sustainable.  It will, however, offer some much-needed respite from the diet of cuts that the care sector has been experiencing – in the last year alone 3,000 care home beds have been lost with a ricochet felt in hospitals throughout the country.”tabs on phone

In essence the cuts, caps and increased pressure on the public sector will continue, forcing local government leaders to seek evermore creative ways to save money. And with pre-approved budget-saving technology, such as those on G-cloud 7 – tabs® in particular – the road to substantial savings is proving to be a digital one.

tabs® – described as “recruitment revolution” by one of the judges of the technology’s 5 awards and 8 nominations (in technology, app design, HR and business innovation) from across two continents – is wholly customisable and so can be deployed across the entire public sector, from social services to HR departments, health to emergency services, social care to education. With the ability to issue live 24/7 job alerts to permanent workforces and recruit temporary workers, freelancers and contractors via smart technology, tabs® is reactive to its users’ busiest periods, sickness and holiday cover on hour by hour basis.

Paul Excel previously Chief Technology Officer at BT and Chairman of Global iLabs, the makers of tabs® says, “The public sector and the NHS are under increasing budget pressures, but also facing an ever-growing need. tabs® represents a potential saving of millions for councils, the NHS and even the police, fire, emergency and prison services where staff are deployed around the clock and paid via the public purse.”

Greg Wixted MD of Global iLabs and Inventor in Chief of tabs® welcomes the opportunity show local authority and public sector leaders just how the solution will create huge savings. “The hundreds of hours of insight that defined in invention process of tabs® coupled with the cutting edge technology means it truly does impact positively on budgets. Our commitment to continually update our technology and offer that free of charge to our customers means that the savings tabs® offers will last a generation. ”

tabs® is a powerful yet simple mobile solution enabling live, fully automated staff deployment.

tabs® utilises smartphone technology via a dedicated app and web portal and is customisable for all businesses.

tabs® is more than just an app – it’s a complete end-to-end technology platform that saves time and money.

What are the benefits of tabs®?

  • Cost effective – reduces costs by up to 30%
  • Flexible – buy-out or opt-in service via subscription
  • Efficient – saves businesses up to 40% in man hours
  • Accessible – for anyone with mobile phone, tablet or laptop
  • Customisable – custom- built for your business needs
  • Scalable – for local, national and global businesses 

Who is tabs® for?

tabs® is specifically designed to recruit and deploy permanent and temporary shift workers, contractors, freelancers, on site or in the field. It works 24/7 across multi-site locations locally and nationally.

tabs® can be applied across social services, health, social care, finance, environmental services, education, call centres, transportation, food service, local government, police, emergency services, probation and prison services

What does tabs® do?

tabs® unique features include:

  • Live geo located search
  • Live rostering & schedule view
  • 24/7 issuing of shift requests
  • Live transport & route planner
  • Acceptance via smartphones
  • Manages payroll & invoicing data
  • Compliance document management
  • In-app compliance revalidation
  • AWR, WTR, holiday & sickness pay calculation
  • Automated timesheet sign-off
  • Comprehensive reporting tools
  • Social media integration

New features of tabs® are regularly developed to ensure it remains at the cutting edge of technological advancements. These innovations are offered free to customers