Success Story: The Metropolitan Borough of Wirral

Axway Automator helps reduce government spending

  • Headquarters

    Wirral, United Kingdom
  • Industry

  • Challenge

    Automation and management of diverse operating systems and applications to optimize IT resources and eliminate costly 24x7 on-site staffing

  • Solution

  • Results

    • Cost savings of £2.5 million over ten Years
    • Automator adapts to evolving and complex IT environment
    • Reporting mechanisms implemented for business, technical performance and change management
    • ROI achieved within first year of operation
    • Reduced local government spending and elimination of 24x7 shifts
    • Reliable and stable solution running for more than ten years
    • Accurate performance indicators are generated for review by government officials and managers 24x7 Service Level Monitoring

“Once we understood how powerful Axway Automator is, we immediately exploited everything it has to offer... We achieved ROI within the first year, and we have made a profit every year since then.”

Wirral is a metropolitan borough of Merseyside in North West England. The population of Wirral in 2008 was 311,200. The Borough of Wirral itself covers 60 square miles (160 km2) of the northern part of the Wirral Peninsula.

As the local government body and authority, the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral collects taxes from local residents and businesses, and in turn, allocates resources for housing, schools, social services, environment and planning, transportation, roads, benefits, the police, and more. It manages a yearly budget of approximately £250 million. Wirral Council is also one of the largest employers in the region, with about 5,000 staff members that manage and provide a wide range of government services for the populace.

Automating a Heterogeneous IT Environment

“It certainly would have been easier for us to manage a more homogeneous environment, but fortunately we have Automator to automatically run diverse applications across the fourteen different platforms running various operating systems.”

Automating Requirements for 24x7 Service Level Monitoring

Eliminating costly shift allowances

As the Wirral IT staff became experienced with Automator, it decided to implement monitoring and reporting programs within Automator for each critical application. The objective was to ensure application availability and service level monitoring, monitor changes to the schedule, and also to generate performance statistics. In effect, as requirements for 24x7 services were increasing, the team had to work shifts. “Once we understood how powerful Automator is, we immediately exploited everything it has to offer, and we have come down to a regular 9:00am–5:00pm shift,” Ashworth explained. “We let the software run everything for us throughout the night, which means we don’t need shifts anymore. We don’t have to pay costly shift allowance, nor have the necessary insurance in place to cover the shifts. Of course, we have had to make other changes such as delaying our daily printing jobs by about one hour, but the payoff is so big that it’s worth these small sacrifices.”

Rapid ROI and Reduced Government Spending

In accordance with government objectives

While other local councils are increasing their shift times to meet service level requirements, Wirral has entirely eliminated shifts and 24x7 operations. In the UK, as with many other countries, governments are trying to reduce spending, and lowering the wage bill is one key way to achieve this goal. The Wirral Council has managed to set up an environment designed to run programs automatically, report on events remotely, and manage problems -- all based on Automator. Over ten years, Automator has saved the local council nearly £2.5 million. “We achieved ROI within the first year, and we have made a profit every year since then,” said Ashworth.

Wirral also uses Automator to generate required reports for the council. These reports are automatically generated and sent to designated recipients by email. They are also available on Wirral’s Intranet. This automated procedure also translates into savings and efficiency, leaving users free to print reports, view them directly at their workstations, or on their PDAs.

“Once we understood how powerful Automator is, we immediately exploited everything it has to offer, and we have come down to a regular 9:00am–5:00pm shift.”

Critical Stability and Accurate Performance Indicators

For enhanced visibility and accountability

Ashworth continued: “With Automator, once you’ve tested it and it works, it works forever. I can’t remember the last time I needed to call tech support. We implemented the latest release of Automator last November, and the upgrade installation across all fourteen platforms went fine. In addition, each release brings powerful new features. One of the things we like most about Automator is that it continues to evolve along the same path as our own requirements.

It’s got to be 100% accurate, and it is. Thanks to the monitoring features we have put in place with Automator for each different server, accurate and detailed statistics are automatically generated. If someone comes to us and asks, ‘Why was the system down for ten minutes three months ago?’ we can tell them exactly what happened. We’ve got very accurate figures and can easily drill down to detail in the statistics,” Ashworth concluded.

Thanks to the statistics generated, the Wirral IT staff has been able to provide performance indicator reports to local government officials on a quarterly basis. These reports give government officials full visibility and accountability as to the council’s business and technical performance.

“We achieved ROI within the first year, and we have made a profit every year since then.”

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