Improving services by sharing information

The Improving Information Sharing and Management (IISaM) project enabled authorities in Bradford, Leicestershire and Greater Manchester to support partnership working by improving information sharing and management. The project looked at ways to share information appropriately and securely to improve the services provided to local people.

Knowledge Hub member and facilitator Nicola Underdown, Head of Engagement (West) at Leicestershire County Council tells us about how using Knowledge Hub has helped the project achieve its aims.

Charged with leading the IISaM project at Leicestershire County Council, I created a Knowledge Hub group in December 2011 to help support the project. I set up the group to disseminate the project learning among ourselves and then more widely.

The group successfully brought together a large number of people, from a wide range of local government backgrounds, specialist expertise, and geographical places, through a happy mixture of design and chance.

Developing a community of practice
We used a separate website to focus on our broader media strategy and our Knowledge Hub group allowed us to develop a community of practice around the topic which grew to over 200 members. In the early phases the group had a great impact on communications, and while we were a small team who were geographically dispersed, I valued engaging with other related groups and having a voice we would not have had.

Planning the obvious
Despite some challenges to build the group participation into members’ everyday working life, having content that was useful and compelling to members helped to build the community. As long as you have a plan as to how you are going to manage the group, I would certainly recommend using a Knowledge Hub group again to help deliver a project. However, it’s not magic and it needs to be brought to people’s attention. It might seem obvious but you need to provide prompts to remind people to take responsibility.

Providing a presence and space to share information
As the lead group facilitator, my role involved using the group to seed discussions, share useful content, respond to queries, and promote the project’s outcomes. The group helped us to gain input from others and provide members with a strong sense of purpose and direction. Members could access shared documents and tools, find out about relevant events, comment on materials, read blogs about project updates, and join in discussion topics. The group provided a presence and a space to share information with people who wouldn’t necessarily have had access to it.

The project generated great interest and much of its learning is being used to develop a new Centre of Excellence for information sharing.


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