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 Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy