A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Scomis's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Scomis is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Highlighting best practice
Head of Scomis Group
Passionate about customer
service excellence
Scomis occupies a unique position in the mixed economy.
Although performing a public function by providing ICT
services to the education and local government sectors, they
also operate under the governance of Devon County Council (DCC).
In doing this, they have distinguished themselves and their model
through commercial excellence and innovation. Local authority
support units such as Scomis have traditionally provided services
within their geographic area only. Scomis has broken that mould
and, with the permission of DCC, they have expanded beyond the
boundaries of Devon, using many of the techniques that brought
the private sector so much success. The most important reason
for their success, is that they put the customer at the heart of
everything they do and are passionate about delivering customer
service excellence and continual service improvement. Proving
themselves in this domain has not always been easy, which is a story
that Head of Scomis, Debbie Foweraker, explains in greater detail.
In between the private and public sectors
We began providing ICT services to schools within the Devon county boundaries
in 1984. From the outset, due to the devolution of school budgets from local
authority control, we had to establish a model to seek income. The Management
Information Software (MIS) that we support is an indispensable component in
»Head of Scomis Group:
»Founded in 1984
»Based in Exeter, Devon
»Services: ICT and telephony
services for the education and
public sectors
»No. of employees: 180
the running of a school. It performs
many functions including monitoring
attendance, keeping a record of
behaviour, tracking progress, and,
most critically, will help a school
achieve improved outcomes if used
effectively. The MIS we support is
Capita SIMS – a market leader in this
area with a strong UK-wide reputation.
We not only support this system
throughout its lifespan, but also offer
hosting services to remove the burden
and cost of managing the software
in school alongside a portfolio of
technical services.
The support aspect of the service is
one of our most important and unique
selling points. We have a team of 17
education service desk analysts to take
calls and resolve incidents. We also
have a team of education specialists
who are always willing and ready to
visit schools nationwide. They work
with headteachers, senior leaders,
governors, teaching and operational
staff to understand their challenges,
develop close relationships and help
them use the software more effectively
to deliver improved outcomes for
young children and people.
It’s especially important that we
provide this service, because the SIMS
software is central to the successful
operation of a school. If schools need
help using the software, they need it
there and then. They don’t want to
wait for their issues to be resolved.
With Scomis when they call, a service
desk analyst starts working on their
incident straight away so that we can
ensure a swift resolution. As a result,
our first-time resolution rates exceed
industry averages and 91 per cent of
the 72,000-plus interactions we had
with customers last year were resolved
within the target time. Ensuring that
our customers are happy and receive
an excellent experience is therefore a
core commitment of our ethos. This,
we believe, is encompassed under the
concept of trust. “We are only as good
as the last call!”
Trusted ICT partner
Software (MIS)
that we
support is an
component in
the running of
a school
Highlighting best practice
Trust at the fore
Of course, it’s easy enough to say
that our services are excellent, but
it’s another thing for our prospects
to trust that this is the case prior to
making a decision to move to us.
This is why we involve our existing
customers in the process of forming
our key performance indicators (KPIs),
allowing them to have a significant
influence over what does and does
not define success. By conducting
our business this way, our customers
are reassured that we will focus
on delivering high quality and
In addition to this, we remain in
close and regular contact with clients
throughout the term, with regular
‘User Groups’ and individual customer
meetings to keep our KPIs on the
agenda. We will do this, even if our
clients are in rural locations – distance
is immaterial. Our focus on the
customer experience is a unique aspect
of Scomis; it has, and continues to
be, a core element in our successful
journey. Indeed, whatever changes we
undergo in the future, this essential
aspect will remain unaltered. The
customer will always come first, and
customer feedback gives testimony to
our commitment to this. Indeed, many
of our new customers come to us
through word of mouth.
Innovating our methodology
Around 2010, we considerably
changed course: we decided that we
would scale beyond the boundaries of
Devon – especially in light of the push
toward academisation (something
many considered a threat to our
industry). We saw it not as a threat,
but as an opportunity and became one
of the few local authority support units
to take advantage of this development.
Immediately, we set about a shift
in culture and brand to convince
prospective customers outside of
Devon that we could add value to
them. Particular emphasis was placed
on trust and the quality of our service
delivery. As a result of this strong push
forward, we now support more than
740 schools across 27 local authorities,
ranging from Cornwall to Redcar and
Cleveland – an enormous expansion
from our previous portfolio of 350
schools in the Plymouth, Torquay
and Devon areas. The success of this
strategic effort resulted in us being
commissioned by DCC to deliver ICT
and telephony services to more than
4,000 council employees and, to the
general public, through the Customer
Service Centre at Tiverton. In April
2017, we formed the Scomis Group
– a change of identity that reflected
our growing remit. Significantly, the
Council’s former Corporate IT service
was transferred into what was Scomis
Education – in most other authorities it
is the other way around.
Our efforts at expansion won’t stop
there. In our 2019-21 business plan,
our aim is to become recognised
as THE trusted ICT support partner
nationally to schools and the public
sector, using our passionate approach
to deliver solutions which empower
our customers. Our growth shows no
sign of slowing down, and it’s on this
basis that we look forward to what the
future brings.
We remain in
close and
regular contact
with clients
the term, with
regular ‘User
Groups’ and
meetings to
keep our KPIs
on the agenda
Empowering our
customers and staff

This article was sponsored by Scomis. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister