How are Government employees responding to the challenge of multi-agency collaboration in 2021?
Seven years after the Home Office shared findings from its 'Multi-Agency Working and Information Sharing Project', Huddle asks - where are we today?
It has been almost seven years since the Home Office shared findings from its ‘Multi-Agency Working and Information Sharing Project’. The findings offered a unique look into the multi-agency information sharing models being adopted across UK government and called for agencies, public sector bodies, and private sector partners to work together in a way that improved decision making, quality of service, and cost.
In practice, many public sector stakeholders found this push towards greater collaboration challenging, not least because of a lack of shared IT infrastructure, but also poor cloud and security awareness.
So where are we today, seven years after that important call to action?
External collaboration is now a necessity.
Since the publication of the project’s findings, those in Central and Local Government, as well as public sector services such as the NHS, have witnessed seismic changes to the way they work.
Whether it be through greater private sector partnerships across the NHS, or more complex Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hubs (MASH) spanning local authorities, and a variety of support services, collaboration beyond the firewall is no longer a choice, it is a necessity.
This demand has been supported by a huge rise in the availability of cloud-based apps and systems designed to improve collaboration. However, it’s also been accompanied by a rise in security threats and a general feeling of complexity – both in the breadth of stakeholders involved in multi-agency projects, but also the volume of content that needs to be shared and worked on.
To better understand the technologies being used for collaboration, how users are adapting to changes in working practices, and the challenges they face, Huddle commissioned a study spanning more than 600 public sector employees, comprising Local and Central Government, and the NHS.
The full report (Multi-agency Collaboration in UK Government) can be read at https://public.huddle.com/a/vgGPnel/index.html
SUMMARY OF FINDINGS
- Today’s work is not confined to organisational borders. 55% of respondents routinely share files and collaborate with stakeholders outside of their organisation.
- Email remains the most used technology for collaboration with external stakeholders, despite being acknowledged as a poor choice when working on files with a large group of stakeholders. Respondents noted issues with losing control of document versions, tasks and updates being buried in lengthy email chains, and concerns over security.
- More advanced collaboration and file sharing apps are routinely used, including Microsoft SharePoint and Teams. However, while these apps have a solid user base for internal file sharing and collaboration use cases, their use declines for multi-agency and external collaboration use cases, with respondents citing issues with IT security policy restrictions, and confusion over which application to use.
- Almost a quarter of respondents felt overwhelmed and confused by the number of different collaboration apps available to them. 21% say they find it confusing to determine which app to use for internal vs external sharing.
- This confusion is fuelling the use of Shadow-IT. 9% admit to regularly using a personal file sharing account, and 8% admit to using unencrypted USB flash drives to share files with stakeholders outside of their organisation.
- IT training remains a weak point across many government and public sector organisations. Just 17% felt they have been adequately trained, and that the training materials they have access to are completely sufficient.
- Security training is common, with only 7% unsure if a security policy even exists within their organisation. However, whether the available security policy is understood is questionable – more than a quarter said that despite being aware of an existing security policy, they are unsure how it relates to their role.
You can read the full report at https://public.huddle.com/a/vgGPnel/index.html
How Huddle can overcome these challenges
At Huddle, we understand that the need to deliver better services, and at a lower cost, is driving every level of Government to look for new, more collaborative ways of working.
However, one barrier remains: an integrated, shared IT system. It means that many agencies are still working in informational silos, hampering cross-agency collaboration.
As the most trusted solution for government and public sector bodies who need to improve multi-agency collaboration, Huddle knows that the challenge isn’t as great as it might seem - and not nearly as expensive as many of the legacy solutions being operated today.
Huddle provides a simple, yet highly secure way to connect internal teams with stakeholders outside of your firewall. Huddle works by allowing you to build project Workspaces where teams come together to work on files, exchange information, manage tasks, set approvals, and discuss updates.
And, because Huddle is cloud-based, it sits above your existing IT infrastructure so you can be sure everyone has access. Being cloud-based also keeps everyone synchronised to the latest files, so there is never any risk of out-of-date information being shared. Learn more at huddle.com
Tamas Kramer is head of public sector at Huddle
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