Different working practices and styles mean that teams do not always share or store information across departments in a consistent way. Lowering cultural and cross-departmental barriers within a local authority could go a long way towards helping councils manage information more effectively.
Setting up steering committees can be a useful way to keep communication channels open and align different teams on problems and policies. Once established, steering committees can enable senior leaders and internal stakeholders to communicate regularly with one another about processes, discussing what works well and how to make future improvements.
Educating staff on the latest data regulations
New data protection regulations are constantly on the horizon. One such is the GDPR, which is set to come into play in 2018 if Brexit does not disrupt current plans. It’s vital that everyone in the local authority is prepared and trained on how to meet data protection requirements. Educate staff so that they are up to date on the latest information management processes, correct procedures and best practice, as well as the potential consequences of mis-managing sensitive information. Every member of staff needs to acknowledge and own their role in helping to keep sensitive information secure, regardless of the time pressures they may be under.
Balancing organisational pressures with data security
Outsourcing to a trusted third party can help free up time and resource. Secure storage and destruction are areas for consideration. A third party should be able to advise on retention schedules and have high-level security to help safeguard sensitive records, leaving information managers with less to worry about. This will allow them to focus on strategic operations that will deliver better services and value to the public, without compromising the integrity of the information for which they are responsible.
Avoiding data breaches is vital if local authorities are to inspire trust amongst the communities they serve. The good news is that there are actions information managers, senior leaders, and stakeholders within local authorities can take to help establish best practice that others can then follow. Closer collaboration and better education in particular will help solve some of the complexities of information management within the organisation. Putting these measures in place will help everyone work towards one common goal – treating sensitive data with care, while using it to deliver a higher level of service to the local community.