Getting the technology right for smarter working

Written by Microsoft on 10 February 2016 in Sponsored Article
Sponsored Article

Microsoft takes a look at some of the technology that can help your organisation on its journey to smarter working

Prior to the annual 'The Way We Work' awards earlier this month, we considered the notion of 'smarter working', and what that might mean in the context of central government and the civil service that supports it. Underpinning this smarter working mentality was the need to remove the barriers that might otherwise inhibit productivity, by using technology - and people - in an effective way.

Time, location, and access to information are all obstacles that can contribute to a workforce that is not necessarily 'unproductive', but one that is not working to the fullest of its potential. Embracing a modern, smarter way of working places trust in individuals tasked with carrying out the business of government, and affording them the flexibility and environment that will ultimately allow them to be more productive as individuals and as a collective unit.

Moving on from theorising about how smarter working in the Civil Service could function, we take a look at some of the technology that can help you on your journey to smarter working. This article will look at how Office 365, Skype for Business, MS Dynamics and SQL Server can help improve government agility.

Getting ‘smarter’ at sharing information: Office 365 & SharePoint

For a real life example of this we can turn our gaze Tyneside, and look at how Newcastle City Council has maximised its workers' time and energy through the use of Office 365 and SharePoint.

Like many public sector organisations up and down the country, Newcastle City Council has been faced with cuts to budgets and personnel. The need to work in a smarter way led them to embracing Office 365 in order to connect occasionally disparate workers in a number of areas - both in terms of physical location and areas of responsibility - and allow them to contribute to projects at times and from places that were most conducive to their own personal circumstances and ways of working.

One aspect of the way Newcastle City Council is using Office 365 as the bedrock for this transformation was the utilisation of SharePoint for the access, modification, and sharing of communal documents and information. For field based workers, the use of SharePoint coupled with an appropriate mobile device removed the need to return to the central office to write up notes and reports from visits, and allowing them to spend more time with citizens delivering the services that they require.
 
For more detail on how Newcastle City Council achieved greater productivity against a backdrop of austerity measures, click here.  

Bringing people together more easily: Skype for Business

Getting all the right people around the table for a meeting is often fraught with difficulty. A number of factors will dictate a person's location on any given day, and even if they are all under one roof, what guarantee is there that a room with enough space to hold them all will be available?  What happens if one of the attendees is unable to make it to the office for any reason? Physical meetings involve many moving parts, and waiting for the stars to align perfectly can cause delays to business decision making, and can ultimately end up being more disruptive.

Through Skype for Business, workers can quickly and easily organise meetings virtually, present to other attendees, share documents and files, and record meetings all in one place. In a strangely ironic twist, by providing workers with the wherewithal to not physically be in the office each day, they can become more connected. The Instant Message functionality lets you see when others are online, and instead of sending an email and waiting for them to reach it in their already busy inboxes, you can message them directly with a quick query, and continue with your work with minimal delay.

As well as bringing workers together more easily, the removal of unnecessary travel also helps to reduce costs considerably, meaning that not only can businesses become more productive and improve the services they deliver, but they can make budgetary savings without a loss of manpower nor witness a decline in the level of service offered to their customers.

The use of Skype for Business by Brighton & Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust has dramatically improved the way in which strokes are treated from the onset, by connecting patients with a consultant via Skype – even out of hours – rather than either party having to travel, ensure that the correct diagnoses are made swiftly, allowing for the appropriate actions to be taken without unnecessary delays. In situations such as this, the importance of swift decision making can have significant impact on the long term welfare of the patient, and the level of care required.

To learn more about how Brighton & Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust is improving the treatment of stroke patients, click here.

Unlocking the power of information: Microsoft Dynamics

While falling under the overall scope of ‘government’, work different organisations and departments operate largely independently. Of course for the individuals served by these arms of government and the Civil Service, all of these different aspects of their life are interconnected.

With all of the vast quantities and types of information involved in administering and delivering services both centrally and remotely, there is a need for organisations to make that data interoperable and of use to all necessary parties. Context is key, and being able to draw links between various clusters of information can help these individual sets of data to become more valuable than the sum of their parts, and provide government with more agile, predictive systems than can be used by a variety of people in different roles.

One way to view a government’s success is the optimal alignment of people, assets, systems, and data to maximize results. Microsoft Dynamics breaks the traditional business application mould today. Emerging as proactive and forward-looking, it connects people to their work, surfacing insights that enable better decisions and guiding processes that optimize results. Agile software empowers adaptation to changing economic and political conditions. Instead of a “system of record,” it delivers a “system of engagement and opportunity.”

To learn more about Microsoft Dynamics and the opportunities it presents for government, download the whitepaper Dynamic Business for Smart Government

Laying the foundations: SQL Server

Fundamental to all of the examples explored above is the security and privacy of the information being used and exchanged, as well as the tools used to access and modify it. The Microsoft Cloud enables businesses and organisations to move with agility and confidence, safe in the knowledge that their data is stored securely – both physically and virtually. Earlier this month we took a look at the idea of Government as a Platform, and how Microsoft SQL Server 2014 can help the digital transformation of government.

To read Government as a Platform: Taking the £1.8B Plungeclick here.

Want to find out more about smarter and flexible working? Click here to download the e-guide

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