Driving cross-agency collaboration in Wales

Insights, experiences and real-world examples from Welsh Government, Audit Wales and Public Services Ombudsman for Wales

As a Customer Success Manager, I have the pleasure of speaking to customers daily, focusing on what my job title suggests – their successes.

Despite the challenges of the last 18 months, from managing remote working to ensuring business continuity, I’ve heard directly from organisations across our customer base, how they’ve adapted to continue to deliver public services and support for vulnerable communities.

That’s why we wanted to share some of these inspiring and practical use cases with others.

Our latest virtual coffee morning featured three Objective Connect customers based in Wales, discussing how they’re supporting their communities via secure external information sharing and cross-agency collaboration.

Sharing real-life use cases of Connect that benefit communities, is something I’m truly passionate about. With that said, I’m delighted to list some of the highlights from my conversation with Steve, Andrew and Siân.

Welsh Government: Support for the shielding programme
Dr Steven Marshall, Head of Information Management, discussed creating 23 secure workspaces – one for each local authority in Wales and one for external suppliers – to exchange data about shielding people in need of food parcels.

“We could do that quickly and securely because of the way the system works,” Steven noted.

“It allowed us to adapt, knowing that we had that system there, and nothing needed to change other than what documents we would put in there. It meant that right from day one, we were just concentrating on doing the actual job of getting that food system working, and not the mechanics of how on earth we get the data backwards and forwards between all parties and how we make sure it’s secure or not – all those important things. That was the easy part.”

Given Objective Connect links into Welsh Government’s electronic records system (Objective ECM) and took advantage of existing workflows in place, the entire process was up and running in about an hour, with the first food parcels arriving within one day of set-up.

Audit Wales: Operating business as usual
IT Service Manager, Andrew Jenkins summarised the role of Audit Wales as the public watchdog for spending by Welsh public bodies, including Welsh Government, the 22 unitary authorities and the fire and health service.

Aiming to tighten up security, Andrew commented that the agency started experiencing compatibility issues between their encrypted memory sticks and those of other organisations so needed to look for an alternative method of sharing data. Objective Connect was selected.

“Where it really scores for us is following the lockdown and pandemic. We’ve not been on a client’s site since March of last year. It’s meant that, in the last year, we’re able to hit all our targets, our audits, and get all the information we need from clients by setting up workspaces as and when required.

“Obviously, dealing with sensitive information – which we have to do a lot at the Department of Audit – Objective Connect ticks all those boxes. The fact that they’ve got that audit trail to back up any queries is very, very useful.”

Public Services Ombudsman for Wales (PSOW): Securely sharing patient records
PSOW has legal powers to investigate complaints about public services and independent care providers in Wales, and also investigate members of the local government bodies that have breached their authority of code of conduct. Siân Filmer, a Professional Advice Coordinator, arranges for independent professional advisors to look at the case that’s being complained about, specifically in matters relating to Health.

Siân comments how Objective Connect has supported her role: “What I do mainly is send files and any sort of health records to the independent advisor to look at and obviously send us a report. The advisor can simply pick it up on their side of things.”

Previously, larger files such as X-rays or scans were sent on a CD. Now, such files are sent electronically through the system which has delivered real benefits, as Sian notes: “The independent advisors have that information immediately rather than sending them via our courier. Now, the advisors can look at the patient records, the request for advice, and any scans or X-rays immediately, on the same day as we actually upload them.”

Cross-agency collaboration conclusion
The great thing about talking to our customers is that there are so many diverse and interesting Connect stories from around the world. Here, we have just three different examples of how agencies are using the software to support secure external file sharing and cross-agency collaboration, all in support of their own communities. I hope to share many more with the Objective community soon!

If you have any questions about the use cases discussed or are interested in exploring secure external sharing and collaboration within your department, I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to email me and keep the conversation going.

To listen to the full conversation on-demand – including Steven Marshall and Andrew Jenkins talking about wider use cases – simply click here.