Better ways of working with information by optimising usage of Microsoft 365 for the NHS
Complete Digital Transformation Programme and new working information management model for NHS trust
With 900+ A&E patients every day and 1.3 million outpatient appointments every year, this trust is one of the largest NHS trusts in the country, and one of Britain’s leading healthcare providers. With over 26,000 staff, the trust serves 2.5 million people across London and manages five hospital sites. Their mission is to provide safe and quality care for patients, many of whom come from some of the most diverse and deprived communities in Britain.
The trust had the ambition to improve its records management processes and wanted to take advantage of new digital workplace options that could assist them with their information management strategies.
They had recently removed any dependencies on outdated existing services hosted on-premises and wanted to step away from inefficient paper-based processes. Following the transition of NHSMail to a Microsoft 365 based infrastructure, the trust had the option to move its collaboration and information management assets into NHS Digital’s shared tenant and define information governance. This project provided an ideal opportunity to undertake a complete digital transformation initiative, incorporating data migration, digitising business processes, and developing a communications portal and collaboration tooling into the scope of a programme of works to ultimately save time and costs. The healthcare provider is now fit for the future with long-term strategies in place for leveraging a cloud-based modern workplace – a new era of collaboration.
As an organisation new to Microsoft 365, the trust wanted to take advantage of the records management capabilities and collaboration features within the shared NHS tenant but understood there might be some challenges by not having overall control of the solution.
Following initial strategic consultancy from Intelogy as to whether the new shared NHS tenant met their needs or whether they needed to consider their own environment, the trust chose to join the shared NHS tenancy within Microsoft 365, providing them with a central platform that connected them to over 1.5 million other staff across the NHS. It is centrally administered by a third party, and unsurprisingly for such a widely shared platform, had restrictions on what could and couldn’t be set up for specific trusts. Additionally, an opportunity was identified to work more collaboratively across a large proportion of the NHS user base and promote networks of staff across different locations who work in the same fields, to build a better collaborative model across the trust, and the wider NHS community.
Tenancy option analysis
The NHS trust started with a need to make a decision to move their data into a new tenant or join the NHS’s shared tenant. Intelogy performed an assessment of both options, including configuration, administration options, policies, licensing, and security. We presented the ICT leadership team with a recommendations report, which helped the team to reach the decision to join the NHS Digital shared tenant and we were consequently chosen to help them make the most of this environment.
To kick off the project, Intelogy worked with the NHS trust to gather the key stakeholders and hosted a number of workshops that identified requirements for the new working environment, as well as focussed effort on presenting how implementation will be carried out, taking into consideration the necessary measures that are in place on the shared environment. Together, we built a strategy that enabled the design of an approach to manage the large-scale deployment of Microsoft Teams, communicate and work with staff, provide guidance and support and ensure success.
Information management was a critical factor in this project, and so working in close partnership with NHS Digital we were able to validate our needs against the capabilities already available and in the pipeline, working according to their release timelines to ensure we implemented a robust, flexible and efficient architecture. Despite the necessary constraints in place on the shared tenant, we managed to plan implementation and communications in line with the launch windows of new features that allow NHS trusts to make the most of the platform and the many benefits it has to offer.
Modern Workplace setup
The intention was for Microsoft Teams to become the “go-to” place for staff during their working day. Now that the NHS trust had joined the shared tenant, this not only enabled better connectivity and collaboration across departments and hospitals, but also across different trusts. Private messaging and Teams conversations were now easily available to anyone, anywhere.
We always recommend to our clients that they implement some form of control over the creation of new teams, to help prevent what’s known as “Teams Sprawl”, and this was especially true for the NHS trust, given the scale of their user base and the nature of the content with which they work. Fortunately, by nature of the tenant’s configuration, only administrators are able to create teams, which therefore left us with the challenge of designing a process appropriate for managing, vetting and approving requests for teams before they reach the admin group to create them.
Working with members of the ICT and Information Governance teams, we designed a process that integrated seamlessly with the NHS trust’s existing service desk solution so that requests can be entered and automatically routed through to the appropriate person for each directorate to review and approve. Only then will the request reach ICT who will be requested to create the team. To better manage the creation, we provided a semi-automatic method by which teams (and their associated SharePoint sites) are auto-configured with consistent settings and metadata within the SharePoint Document library. Additionally, sites were associated with a corresponding “hub” to build on the ongoing information architecture and ease of access to relevant content.
Once completed, the request itself becomes a record, and can be used going forward as part of ongoing reporting strategies.
Once implemented, communications and training strategies were updated so that staff could be aware of the process to request a new team or SharePoint site.
We undertook a series of pilot activities to migrate departmental content from legacy sources (SharePoint Server and file shares) to SharePoint Online and Microsoft Teams. This, along with further investigative activities, allowed us to construct a longer-term plan (as well as documented architecture) that the NHS trust could take and implement themselves, with our support as needed.
With millions of files to consider, not to mention the impact on services in the process, migration had to be carefully managed. The recommendations we put in place have led to longer-term approaches to eventually move staff away from legacy sources and into Microsoft 365.
Staff engagement portal
Intelogy designed a new, modern mini intranet using SharePoint Online, for the purposes of supporting the Microsoft 365 digital transformation programme. The intranet provided the NHS trust with a platform that:
- Gave a fresh, clean experience which in turn provided a positive first impression of SharePoint (accessible on desktop and mobile devices)
- Provided access to news and updates on the digital transformation programme
- Introductions to the various elements of Microsoft 365, and what they mean for each staff member
- Provided access to a series of tailor-made guidance materials for the different solutions available
- Allowed registration for trust-wide webinars, and access to recorded videos after their presentation dates
- Provided a source for FAQs, with the ability to ask questions
The NHS Trust engaged with Intelogy at a time that was particularly busy for them due to the ongoing pandemic. They relied on us to provide them with the answers to key questions and problems, define strategies and work closely within their team to ensure success. The end result of the digital transformation programme provided them with:
- A communications strategy, implemented prior to launch, informing staff of upcoming changes
- A comprehensive, SharePoint-based communications portal providing a wealth of information and support
- A series of staff webinars, covering a number of topics (which were recorded, and made available on the portal)
- A governance process associated with provisioning of teams and SharePoint sites, keeping things as simple as possible, and providing a managed, consistent output
- This included consistent metadata columns, sourcing information from centrally managed taxonomies
- A governance process associated with how staff access other areas such as Microsoft Forms
- A strategy for the long-term goal of migrating all content away from legacy sources
Together, these results gave the NHS trust a framework in which staff are able to openly collaborate across teams and locations, but also with teams in other NHS trusts – something that was not previously possible (at least, in a way that was efficient). The implementation of Microsoft Teams sought to break down silos and instead build networks, all working more efficiently together using the new tools that have become available. All with the end goal, as was stated to us, of “now being able to spend more time with patients”.
Future plans with Intelogy
Since opening the doors to Microsoft 365 and the many benefits it has to offer, we have worked with multiple departments to create solutions that manage specific types of documents (records, policies, processes etc.). Staff are now beginning to embrace the efficiencies that can be made through effective design and automation in their working areas.
The NHS trust also signed up for Intelogy’s Support and Continuous (SCI) service. This allowed us to continue to act as an extension to their teams, providing technical support as well as undertaking additional consultancy, and rapid solution design.
“We are excited about our ongoing relationship with the NHS trust and can’t wait to see the many changes that are to come for them, enabling better ways of working”.
Alex Franklin, Solution Architect at Intelogy