A tale of two use cases: How COVID-19 drove technology use at Welsh Government

Learn how Welsh Government used Objective Connect and Objective ECM in response to the pandemic

Like many organisations, Welsh Government has adopted and evolved its use of technology to support staff and citizens in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr Steven Marshall, Chief Social Research Officer and Head of Information Management at Welsh Government, shared two use cases that have accelerated the Government’s use of Objective Connect and Objective ECM.

Coordinating community food parcels

Welsh Government – along with the 22 local authorities across Wales – were responsible for ensuring vulnerable citizens received the services and support needed, including the receipt of essential food supplies for those shielding.

Coordinating a network of local authorities, suppliers and distributers to deliver the food packages, Welsh Government used Objective Connect as a secure method of transferring sensitive and personal information between the involved parties.

The Information Management team set up a secure Connect workspace immediately to consolidate information from the 14,000 food parcel orders being received daily from the local authorities and send it securely to the suppliers. Information was then exchanged between the suppliers to the local authorities in return, all via the same secure application.

As Dr Marshall noted: “Connect allowed us to set something up very quickly. Essentially, we set up the data exchange part of the process in about half an hour. Crucially for this very sensitive information, it was a secure method.”

Connect allowed us to set something up very quickly. Essentially, we set up the data exchange part of the process in about half an hour. Crucially for this very sensitive information, it was a secure method.

Dr. Steven Marshall

Chief Social Research Officer and Head of Information Management, Welsh Government

However, the original process was still manual in parts having to move files and documents around. Welsh Government looked to change this, building on the integration already available between Objective ECM and Objective Connect, as Dr Marshall explains: “We looked to develop a bespoke data handling system which, using our workflow experience, has actually embedded a manual process as an automatic one, where the system itself will draw down from within our ECM the uploaded data, generate new files to then send automatically into Connect for the supplier, and to feed back to local authorities. This is something we’re looking to roll out across our statistical data systems, to make use of the technology we already have.”

Fixing the ‘weak link’

According to Dr Marshall, “like many organisations, we find email is the weak link in terms of records management. People get large volumes of them and don’t necessarily save them as much as we would like to into the records system”. Given the pandemic has greatly increased email volume, the need to file high volumes of critical information placed a new impetus on the power of Automatic Email Capture (AEC), over and above the long term plan to roll out AEC.

AEC was tested at Welsh Government with workflow management in the background. Piloting showed that it can be turned on out of hours so that emails can be picked up and filed, all while being monitored to show IT how much impact it’s having on the system. As a result of the testing from a filing and functionality point of view, Dr Marshall estimates that he saved “at least 80% of time needed to file large volumes compared to doing it the traditional way."

The Government is now looking to prioritise areas associated with the pandemic response to provide dedicated support to different teams in getting set up and ready to start filing critical information.

Looking to the future

Beyond new Objective Connect use cases and AEC, Welsh Government are also looking to roll out the new Objective ECM IQ browser interface to help increase user experience across the board. The Information Management team are also looking to push ECM integration, covering their CRM database and Microsoft Teams to ensure integration is built into all records.

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