The Commonwealth Secretariat is the main intergovernmental agency and central institution of the Commonwealth of Nations. It’s responsible for facilitating cooperation between members in 54 countries. This includes organizing meetings like the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings (CHOGM), assisting and advising on policy development, and providing assistance on implementation of the decisions and policies of the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth Secretariat was looking for an intuitive platform to boost collaboration and knowledge sharing between government and professional communities and to engage networks of influence from civil society and younger audiences.
“We work with a number of high-level government representatives and partner organizations across the Commonwealth, therefore effective collaboration between these audiences is very important to us. Our primary concern was how to continue the dialogue between the face-to-face meetings. We needed a collaboration platform to span geographical distance and to also handle the challenges of having varying connectivity and IT literacy. So it was essential we had a platform that was easy to use and also very robust,” explains Pukul Rana, Digital Strategy Advisor, Commonwealth Secretariat.
With its web-based access and easy-to-use content management features and functionality, such as discussions forums and whiteboards, Huddle provides an ideal platform for the Commonwealth Secretariat to support knowledge sharing between their target audiences. Huddle apps for iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, and Android enable organizations to access and work on content from their mobile device.
“Before Huddle, we had a bespoke solution in place. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meeting our users’ needs. Accessibility was the biggest issue, which meant users were reverting back to their old ways of working and managing relationships,” says Rana. “This essentially meant people continued to rely on email for sharing content and documents, which can often lead to duplication and things getting buried in inboxes.”
Working with international government and partner organizations and dealing with sensitive information means security is an essential feature for the Commonwealth Secretariat. The secure, public instance of Huddle is pan-government accredited at IL2 and provides an ideal, central environment to store and share information. The Commonwealth Secretariat has peace of mind, knowing that only approved organizations and users can access their workspaces, which are used to support Educations Ministers and Young Entrepreneurs, as well as the Commonwealth Heads of Government meetings taking place in 2013.
Rana describes the decision process, “We carried out an in-house evaluation of the market and products available, followed by a formal tender process. We invited three preferred suppliers to present and Huddle did the job on the day. What separated Huddle from the competition was how easy it was to set up, the pricing structure, and their level of commitment. This combination made the decision easy for us. The total package was more exciting and had far more potential than its counterparts.” The Commonwealth Secretariat currently has over 85 workspaces with more than 900 Huddle users. The Network for Disability Rights Protection Network uses Huddle to share experiences, ideas, and initiatives. “Huddle is integral to what we do and forms a distinct part of our online proposition. This, in turn, has helped us to take a step closer to our strategic vision of a better-connected Commonwealth,” explains Rana. “It has increased productivity and efficiency within the organization and helped to create a much needed shift towards working online.”
The Commonwealth Secretariat continues to look at new ways in which it can develop and support areas of expertise across the 54 countries, specifically to connect professionals across different sectors and time zones. Huddle will continue to be a key part of this initiative, providing a powerful and uncomplicated platform to share and collaborate. “Huddle has really enabled our organization to test the theories around knowledge sharing and collaborative online working. We’re using it to assess the value of mobile working and how we can better utilize this channel going forward. Huddle is very much part of an integrated channel for delivery and collaborative working. We are using this experience to springboard larger initiatives for the Commonwealth, which will help us to continue engaging with our growing audience in a meaningful way.”