Library and Knowledge Services (LKS) at Nottinghamshire Healthcare sits within the Health Informatics (HIS) department. I’m fortunate that I am a member of the Senior HIS Management Team, which means I am strategically placed to advocate the skills and services of LKS within ICT. I realised that this had obviously worked when the Head of Digital Services (IT) asked if the LKS team would become Digital Champions for the Trust and support the role out of MS Teams across the whole Organisation during the pandemic.
If you have not come across this before, Digital Champions support digital inclusion through sharing their knowledge and experience to help others develop their digital skills. You don’t have to be an IT guru to be one, but what is important is being motivated to help others at their own pace, and most importantly admitting when you don’t know the answer but will find out!
As a member of the Digital Workplace Project Group, responsible for enabling our Trust to work more digitally, I knew the plan was always to roll out teams using a Digital Champion network within both clinical and non-clinical teams across our Organisation. However, COVID forced our hand. The roll out we had been planning was changed from months to days. The Teams pilot, which LKS had been part of, had to be upscaled to the whole Trust in record time. The LKS team would become the Digital Champions for the entire Organisation to take the additional pressure away from our IT Support Service.
There was no remit of how this support should be delivered but COVID meant that we must deliver support virtually. A dedicated inbox was created to manage enquiries, although we also responded via telephone, MS Teams and email depending on the complexity of the enquiry, enquirers preference and the implied digital literacy level of the enquirer. We applied the same level of customer service that we use in LKS to respond quickly and answer enquiries directly to keep the business of the Organisation moving.
Based on the frequently asked questions we were receiving we created an MS Teams support page hosted on our Intranet. We created short visual support materials and provided frequent updates to the ever changing functionally of Teams. This enabled us to signpost to key guidance and encourage independent learning across the Trust. We began hosting weekly ‘Drop in Sessions’ to cover the basics of MS Teams, giving staff the opportunity to see demonstrations and ask questions, as well as providing sessions for individual teams if requested. Due to the success and high demand we now offer daily ‘Drop in Sessions’. We write communications for the daily Chief Executive staff bulletin and weekly Line Managers update highlighting any changes or new functionality and signposting to the help section if a query has been raised several times recently. We created an MS Team consisting of the Digital Champions and IT Support Service to facilitate knowledge sharing and problem solving. We are now adopting a more strategic level approach to aid adoption across the Organisation by approaching Managers directly, gaining an understanding of their information needs and selling the benefits of using teams and suggesting appropriate tools they could use with their teams.
At project level I have been involved in all aspects of the rollout and decision-making process, including governance and permission settings. Our Microsoft partner recognised the importance of having a Knowledge Manager involved at this level and the enhanced benefits this can bring. I have been able to argue for the functionality I believe the business needs, including the upgrade of Communities (Yammer), so we can pilot this tool for Communities of Practice. I am the critical friend representing the user point of view, constantly reminding that digital literacy skills vary across the Organisation, and one training style does not fit all. Personally, as a relatively new manager it has been a fantastic learning opportunity to be centrally involved in a project at such scale and to work so closely and learn from our Senior Project Manager.
We made the decision from the onset that we would be transparent about who the Digital Champions were to raise the profile of the library across the Organisation. This may have been considered risky, but I wanted to showcase to our Trust what LKS can do, and we may never have this type of opportunity again. Although I haven’t got any metrics to substantiate this, I believe this has been effective. We have had some fantastic feedback, and colleagues appreciate our swift response to queries and our excellent customer service. Our “can do” attitude has built stronger relationships within not only IT but also with other services across the Trust, where I’m hoping “from little acorns mighty oaks grow”.
Our involvement in Digital Champions will continue whilst the project group work to develop what the long-term support for MS Teams and wider O365 tools will look like for our Trust. In the short- term we are looking to knowledge share and offer further training to volunteers within local teams across the Trust to grow the Digital Champions Network further.
At the beginning we were all apprehensive about taking on this role and moving out of our ‘library comfort zone’, but we knew we had the skills to do this, even if we were still developing the knowledge. All of us have found Digital Champions hugely rewarding as well as challenging at times! Most importantly we can see the difference we are making supporting our colleagues to change their working practices to continue to deliver services in these difficult times.
Head of Knowledge Services