Multi-agency working and information sharing with Huddle

08 January 2017 image

From Multi Agency Safeguarding Hubs (MASH), to local authorities working together to coordinate suppliers and manage service delivery, better multi-agency collaboration enables better decision making, improved services, and reduced costs.

However, one barrier remains; an integrated, shared IT system. In its report “Multi Agency Working & Information Sharing Project”, the Home Office concludes that while vital in the secure and timley exchange of information, many organisations still lack this very basic requirement.

As the most trusted solution for government and public sector bodies looking 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.

The term “multi-agency working and information sharing” has become commonplace across the public sector and typically applies to either multi-agency safeguarding hubs (MASH), or broader multi-agency programme delivery efforts. Although principly different use cases, both exhibit the same characteristics, and need to pull together disparate teams from one or more government, or public sector agencies.

Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hubs (MASH)

Safeguarding hubs act as a single point of entry into public services, with the goal of safeguarding children and vulnerable adults through better information sharing and timely responses and interventions. However, in practice, triaging cases, managing the flow of information and actions across multiple stakeholders and coordinating effort can be challenging.  To improve outcomes and coordinate effort across a range of joined-up services, Huddle allows key stakeholders to work collaboratively around individual cases, encourage the exchange of ideas and best practices, and keep track of tasks and deliverables. 

Programme Delivery

Government agencies, public bodies, and private sector partners (such as universities and research organisations) often need to come together to deliver major projects and programmes. This typically requires the coordination of effort around a large volume of documentation (where individuals need to peer-review and approve content). However, with participants from such a broad spectrum of agencies and organisations, project groups can often experience challenges caused by a lack of a shared IT infrastructure. 

Our work with the Advancing Quality Alliance (AquA) offers a perfect example of Huddle overcomes these technical challenges.  

AquA is the healthcare quality improvement body for the North West of England. It works with clinicians to provide NHS Trusts with a set of practicable quality standards to measure good practice against and that are proven to help save lives. AquA’s work spans 30 NHS trusts and a large number of NHS services, including hospitals and mental health services, as well as the commissioning groups responsible for services planning.

Because the NHS spans many services and smaller organisations, each with its own varying email, IT and intranet systems and usage rules, multi-agency collaboration has long been a challenge. For years, AQuA relied on e-mail to share content, but the team quickly realised that it needed an easy-to-use solution to create a central repository for information and control file versions. AQuA turned to Huddle. 

“Today, we benefit from the incredibly easy-to-use cloud collaboration solution that protects controls versioning and allows secure sharing. This allows us to unite teams and communicate in one place, we’ve also seen a great reduction in version control issues,” explained AQ Programme Director Lesley Kitchen. “This use of Huddle has been really important as it means the debates and discussions can continue with no loss of momentum. Everyone has Huddle on their desktops and smartphones—and using Huddle means that not only are more people talking, but these conversations are taking place where they wouldn’t have before.”

The Department for Energy & Climate Change is another great example.

The Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) works to make sure the UK has secure, clean, affordable energy supplies and promote international action to mitigate climate change. It also leads one of the  largest infrastructure programmes in the UK- The Smart Meter Programme.

The Smart Meter Programme will play an important part in Britain’s transition to a low-carbon economy and help homeowners and small and medium businesses take control of their energy consumption and save money. Between now and 2020, energy suppliers will be responsible for replacing more than 53 million gas and electricity meters. This will involve visits to 30 million homes and small businesses. 

DECC realised at the start of the implementation that it needed secure, timely and transparent communication and collaboration with a wide range of stakeholders and partners, including DECC staff, energy suppliers, network operators, energy service companies, consumers groups, the Ofgem regulator and more.

Some 300 users now rely on Huddle in different work streams to manage content associated with realising the Smart Meter Programme goals. These work streams range from the commercial stream (which reviews and awards the contracts), to consumer communications (notifying householders and businesses that smart meters are on their way) and delivery teams (the groups supplying and testing the equipment), as well as a range of technical advice and specifications unique to the programme. 

“Overall we estimate the cloud collaboration platform has saved more than £100,000 annually in staff and other resources,” explained David Rigal, senior policy advisor and programme operations manager, DECC.

Why Huddle?

Huddle provides a simple, yet highly secure way to connect internal teams with people outside of your firewall. Huddle works by allowing you to build customised project Workspaces where teams come together to work on files, exchange information and manage tasks and actions. 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’s never any risk of out-of-date information being shared.

Unlike tools such as Microsoft SharePoint, Huddle is incredibly easy to configure and use, while still meeting government requirements for security. In fact, Huddle meets the government’s “Official” data security classifcation and is used within 80% of central government agencies.

Huddle is an approved Crown Commercial Service supplier and the largest provider of cloud collaboration solutions on the G-Cloud Digitial Marketplace. It is in use by 80% of central government departments, as well as local authorities around the country.

Visit our UK Government page to learn more