National Health Service Orkney (NHS Orkney)
David Rendall of NHS Orkney (a regional health board of the UK's National Health Service) deployed Traction TeamPage and NewsGator Enterprise Server for a variety of use cases spanning the entire NHS Orkney staff.
We’ve seen a substantial decrease in the amount of e-mail, and plan to remove ‘all staff’ mailing lists soon.
In a matter of months since production deployment, well over 1,000 blog pages have been posted, and, in one small group over 170 tasks have been assigned and completed. A variety of groups from HR to Clinical Services and IT are working collaboratively on project documentation, work logs and user manuals. Our combination of technology from Traction Software and NewsGator Technologies significantly improved the efficiency and transparency of internal communications.
About NHS Orkney
The United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) was established in 1948 and is now the world’s fourth largest employer.
Why Make a Change?
In 2005, an unfavorable report was delivered on the state of internal communications at NHS’ Orkney division.
These are typical problems faced by organizations which rely on a combination of paper, e-mail and well developed (but highly controlled) intranet portals to deliver internal communications.
The NHS Orkney IT department was asked to “sort it out.
Selecting a Platform
Understanding the content buried in e-mail communication traffic was important to realizing a comprehensive solution.
Portal Style Solution?
One solution to these types of problems is to have an internal portal style website.
A good webmaster is a rare combination of techie, editor and manager: even if NHS Orkney had the resources to recruit a full-time webmaster, recruiting the right person would have been very difficult.
So, the available technical skills were stretched too thin, the task too large, and the website became hopelessly out of date.
Groupware or Blogware?
Having eliminated the webmaster centric portal approach, the next class for consideration were technologies allowing users to publish and manage the content.
"I messed about with various (free and not-free) options.
Again, there was a certain basic set of features which were absent from most products because they didn’t understand the large-orgnisation mindset
- Account management integrated with internal network.
- Scalable to fairly large numbers of areas of interest, while keeping a common navigation system.
- Fine-grained delegation of rights.
- Low level of sysadmin involvement.
- End-users create the structure.
And that’s what led us to use Traction TeamPage.
Wordpress or whatever is great when you’re doing a wee externally-accessible blog, but when we tried to use it on a grander scale it was just too difficult to manage. Microsoft Sharepoint is far too difficult for end-users to use, doesn’t scale well and requires an awful lot of admin effort. Traction, like NGES, just intuits what’s important for us. "
Leaping Forward to an Enterprise 2.
After looking at various alternatives, NHS Orkney decided to deploy Traction TeamPage to address communications problems.
A blog is a special kind of website.
- lost & found notices
- charity sponsorship requests
- policies & procedures
- press releases
- opening hours
- health protection notices
- staff vacancies
- stuff for sale
While publishing items such as “stuff for sale” may seem counter-productive in the enterprise sense, the effect is just the opposite.
How is all this organized?
On a traditional website, there tend to be two mechanisms: search and navigation menus.
Menus are difficult to maintain: they require managers to make decisions about what hierarchical structure the menus should have, then take decisions about how to categorize incoming information.
Tags on the other hand are simple text labels which, in Traction, are indexed across all blog/
You can use tags (as well as author names and project names) to filter when searching the blog, combining multiple tags, from one or more workspaces, to drill down to what you need, without needing to know the hierarchical path in advance.
All blog users collaborate on maintaining the tags.
Traction In Action
The NHS Orkney Traction Front Page rolls up activity in 4 sections: Clinical, Organization, Classified and Personals, and Recent News and Information (a catch all).
The IT Newspage is specific to the IT project space.
In a dedicated project, the IT Job Tracker is a work log for assigning and completing task items, and for status reporting.
Untangling E-Mail, and the Web, with NewsGator and RSS
There are two critical features which are missing from most websites:
(1) How do you know what’s new?
(2) How do you know what have or haven’t read?
Many of the employees are now involved in posting to and consuming information on Traction TeamPage, as well as monitoring an array of external sites.
Feeds fill the gaps.
Location independence is of great importance, especially in a health care setting where individuals move swiftly between departments, and may not even have their own workstation.
NHS Orkney staff use NewsGator to subscribe to internal feeds from Traction.
In the NewsGator Enterprise Server interface, feeds from Traction are parsed in a manner that will satisfy the interest area and urgency requirements of a wide variety of readers.
NewsGator isn’t just for internal feeds.
NHS Orkney now has a single, central point of reference for internal communication and information as well as external news.
Have internal communications improved? Rendall comments:
The volume of “corporate spam” has dropped substantially, to the point where we are on the cusp of turning off “all-staff” and other large group mailing lists. The range of information on the blog continues to expand. More staff are starting to use it to work collaboratively.
The hope at NHS Orkney is that, as blog & wiki practices become more common, the technology will encourage a change towards more openness and collaboration, a change expanding communication circles from “need to know” to “can know,” a change we believe would benefit the NHS.
Read more in David Rendall's A Web That Works blog, his commentary on Nudging Users Towards Consistency, and a co-authored Intranet Journal Story titled Traction, Newsgator Weave a Web that Works | NHS Orkney (see 30 July 2007 | IntranetJournal - Traction, Newsgator Weave a Web that Works | NHS Orkney and 30 July 2007 | IntranetJournal - Traction, Newsgator Weave a Web that Works | NHS OrkneyBlog461 ).
NHS Orkney Customer Story Part II
A year after we wrote this Customer Story (which was two years after their original deployment), NHS Orkney gains more from Traction after deploying TeamPage 4.