Challenge: #LocalGovCollaboration! (and working in the open)

As our #LocalDigital project gets off the blocks and we work out what we want to do and how we want to do it, we are finding that a key challenge is how we work quickly across local authorities, when we all have different working environments. Devon and Bucks are fully Microsoft O365, Adur and Worthing are Google G Suite.

Bearing in mind that existing work programmes had not taken into account winning a #LocalDigital bid, we are all having to rapidly insert, with sharp elbows, an agile project into existing work commitments and diaries. So far this has been my biggest frustration – when you can’t see the diaries of colleagues in other authorities, you have to proceed with blinkers on, and it makes setting up meetings and calls a real headache.

However, diaries aside, we are starting to get our communications plans together! Our current iteration looks something like this:

  • Weekly (or more often) video calls via Skype or Hangout.
  • Day to day conversation – the LocalGovDigital Slack workspace – see the #opencommunity channel for general open discussion (membership limited to those with a gov.uk email address). We will use the direct message function for any more confidential conversations between project partners. 
  • Document store – this started on an informal Google Drive, but will shortly migrate to a formal Adur and Worthing G Suite Drive folder.
  • Task management – we will work in the public domain using the #LocalDigital Trello board. [this is not active yet but will be in the New Year!]
  • Retrospectives – we will attempt to open these up via a video call, once we are underway.
  • This website will be the main place for finding up todate information, blogs, events and learning, with key updates and events also published via the Local Digital website.
  •  All project partners will share information via Twitter: Paul Brewer, Tom Dixon and Ben Unsworth.

I am sure things will evolve as we go along, particular once we have appointed a supplier to work with, but there are some clear conclusions so far:

  • Whilst local authorities have some good enterprise IT for working productively within organisations, barriers exist when trying to work collaboratively across organisations – particularly secure document sharing and diaries.
  • In spite of local authorities now having some good IT, we are still finding independent tools are helpful to achieve ‘working in the open’ particulary Slack and Trello.
  • There are serious challenges finding the team resource at short notice to deliver a project in only 3 months (and the timing of the funding immediately prior to the Christmas holiday has not helped!)

I will be interested to see how other #LocalDigital projects have tackled their project communication.

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