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Local authorities wondering if they are keeping up with The Joneses in the outsourced IT stakes will soon be able to find out through a new performance benchmarking service from the Society of IT Management (Socitm).

As well as keeping an eye on how other local authorities are handling outsourced projects and partnerships, the service will allow IT managers to see how their external projects rate against in-house equivalents, using Socitm's key performance indicators. These include areas like user satisfaction, resolution of operational problems, project management and cost-efficiency.

Martin Greenwood of Socitm Insight says that the service is particularly relevant now because local authorities are beginning to come to terms with the reality of outsourcing ICT. "Our [research] shows that nearly £4 bn of IT work has been transferred from local authorities to the private sector in the last two years. Management teams need to know whether what they set out to achieve from this transfer is actually being achieved, because it is becoming clear that outsourcing is not the 'quick fix' solution that is may once been held up to be," he said.

As of 23 May, the benchmarking service will be available nationwide. It has been extended from the society's existing benchmarking activity which covers 178 local authorities, including 25 of the 33 London boroughs and 24 of the 34 shire counties.

Participating authorities will get a report detailing their own KPI scores, and where those scores rank against other authorities. They will also be invited to join three workshops where they can share their experiences with other participating authorities, with the aim of identifying solutions to common problems or difficulties.

There are more details on how to get involved here. ®

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