We finished up the Discovery phase of our IMS project on January 31st and sent our findings back to MHCLG. In those findings was a recommendation that the project should progress to an alpha phase - to try out different solutions to the problems we'd identified during our discovery.
The very next Monday, Feb 3rd, with the application window for the next round of Local Digital Funding already open, we set about drafting our funding application as an open Google Doc and we invited potential collaborators to contribute.
Huntingdonshire District Council, who had provided signicant knowledge and expertise throughout our Discovery work were quick to engage. Through a shared IT service, they represent the 3 councils of Cambridge City, South Cambridgeshire and Huntingdon, all of whom are interested in taking on the Barnsley IM system should it make it through to a Beta phase in the future.
Dorset Council contacted us shortly after too and offered to help. Their story is remarkably similar to Barnsley's in that they've developed their own income management system for the same reasons we did. The more we spoke, the more it felt like we'd been going through a lot of the same challenges over the last few years and at the same times, from restructures to changes in political direction, to troublesome contract negotiations.
We'd identifed during Discovery that the alpha phase was likely to need a smaller group of collaborators. Between the three of us, and with the support of dxw once again, this felt like a good way forward and so on February 14th, we submitted our bid. Later that same evening, we received an invite to be interviewed - to present our bid and to take questions, feedback and challenge from a panel of experts.
Dorset weren't available today unfortunately, but Dave and I arranged to meet up with Saul from DXW Digital and Tony from Huntingdonshire to deliver it. . It seemed to go well. There was good engagement in the room, some well thought out questions and challenges and we walked away with an idea of some changes we wanted to make to the bid document. All told, I'd say a very good day.
Our Google Slides presentation is available to view here.
We wait now to hear the verdict and I'll post here when the results are in.