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Michelle Hones Senior Business Analyst at Greater London Authority
The Greater London Authority (GLA) is the strategic regional governance authority for London, made up of the Mayor of London and the London Assembly. The Mayor represents London’s interests and is responsible for making the city a better place to live, work and visit - setting out the vision for London and creating the plans and policies to achieve it. The role centres around promoting social development, economic development and wealth creation, as well as improving the environment for all who live and work in London. In addition to its strategic role, the GLA has direct delivery powers in housing, land and regeneration and skills.
The London Assembly’s primary role is to hold the Mayor to account; examining decisions and scrutinising policy and performance to ensure promises to Londoners are delivered. It organises itself into subject-based scrutiny committees, taking evidence and publishing reports. It comprises 25 members, elected at the same time as the Mayor. Via the GLA Group, the Mayor also holds executive powers over transport, policing and fire and emergency planning (Transport for London, the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, the London Fire Brigade). The GLA Group as a whole works to achieve the Mayor’s vision and priorities for London.
There are around 1100 staff working together within Greater London Authority, across departments, to improve services and facilities for people living in London.
GLA were running out of space in their network, and experiencing issues with document storage, organisation and version control. “We were running out of space and had no control of our archive or document versions”, explains Michelle Hones, Senior Business Analyst for the Technology Group within Greater London Authority. “We were working with a very basic file storage system and network drives”, she continues. GLA had invested in Microsoft 365 a few years earlier but hadn’t yet used SharePoint Online. “SharePoint sat there for a while because we didn’t have the resource or technical expertise; there’s quite a lot to it”, Michelle says. “It’s not something you can just let people start using. We decided to run a pilot, wrote a governance document and formed a committee to do it properly with one team.”
Being able to deliver the solution they needed within a strict budget was also a consideration for the Authority. “We’re not an organisation that’s trying to make money”, says Hones. “We’re an organisation that’s trying to save money. It’s a long process to secure a budget. That was a challenge.”
Michelle Hones Senior Business Analyst at Greater London Authority
Greater London Authority chose Core to migrate them from the network and implement the SharePoint Online document management system. Core had worked with GLA before on other projects and both parties were keen to continue the relationship. “Core has a lot of experience working with the public sector, which was definitely a benefit”, says Hones. “They’d worked on similar projects to what we wanted, and we had reviews and feedback from other people.”
A Hub and Spoke design was adopted, using a central hub, to which all other relevant sites were attached. This allowed for all sites connected to a hub, for example, project sites connected to a department’s hub, to inherit navigation and theming elements, as well as data connectivity for elements such as document feeds. Core were building a single site in this instance, but a Greater London Authority ‘Hub’ has been created and the site will be connected to this hub. Users are able to share specific content with other members of GLA.
Together with members of the Technology Group team, a site landing page was designed and configured with a layout that suited the needs of the team. Metadata properties were applied to the document library so that content could be easily filtered and found.
Site access was restricted only to members of the team, but they could share content with other internal staff members of the Greater London Authority. External sharing was enabled only with white-listed domains.
A pilot migration of a single library was performed first. Once the content owners had reviewed and confirmed the success of the migration, the rest of the content would be migrated over several days, library by library.
Greater London Authority has a cloud-based SharePoint Online document management system, with one site built and one team officially migrated off the network, and fully using SharePoint Online. The priority now is to repeat the roll out process for every department in GLA and get all teams off the network.
GLA are already seeing the benefits of the new SharePoint Online environment. “We have a level of consistency with where our files are”, says Michelle. “It’s easy to share documents and work collaboratively on them”. GLA are also enjoying the benefits of better version control. “People used to save numerous files of different versions”, says Hones. “We don’t have that anymore. We’ve shown everyone version control; it’s an easier way to work. It’s a lot cleaner.”
The Authority also now has an organised, structured library of training documents. “Before, we had training documents everywhere”, Hones explains. “Now we have a document library dedicated to training, with metadata columns to filter by subject.”
“It’s allowed us to organise files in a more structured way. If you’re new to the organisation, it’s quite clear now where everything is.”
Users can also access their most recent documents and the most viewed documents on the homepage. “We find it really useful to have quick links on the homepage as well”, says Michelle Hones. “It brings the team together.”
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