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Industry voice: How the Kahootz secure online platform has supported Havant Borough Council and East Hampshire District Council to share services and work in collaboration

Two Hampshire councils have made considerable progress in sharing services and collaborative working through the deployment of a secure online platform for document sharing.

Neighbouring Havant Borough Council and East Hampshire District Council work in close partnership and with other local authorities on a number of projects to deliver exceptional services for their residents.

It requires project and programme teams to work closely together, and for this they need a platform on which they can share documents securely. When they began to look for one, they needed a system that was both user-friendly and good value for money.

Before Kahootz, the only system the teams used to collaborate was SharePoint, which the management team felt wasn’t the right tool at the time. It also proved troublesome for their users.

James Mackenzie (pictured), who manages a team of project and programme managers across both councils, says: “We had a basic installation of SharePoint which came from our IT provider.  As the product was separate from our desktop and required an additional log-in, we had issues with our users being unable to gain access and it wasn’t the most user-friendly system.”

However, the main issue was collaborating on documents via email. “Our stakeholders and project teams had problems with version control. They didn’t know whether they were working on the right version of a document at any given time.

“If at some point we picked up older versions that had since been updated, it caused big issues for those projects,” he says.

“Also, things would often get missed. You would be compiling comments from 10 or 20 different people and it would all go into someone’s inbox for them to pick through. It was a bit of a mess!”

G-Cloud options

The decision was then made to consult the G-Cloud to see what alternatives were available.

“One of the main reasons we wanted to use the G-Cloud framework is that suppliers had been security accredited and were of a certain standard. We felt safe and secure in picking one that had gone through that process,” Mackenzie explains.

They then trialled four different vendors so their users could assess the different functionality. Following this and formal presentations from each provider, Kahootz was selected.

The reasons for the decision were varied., “The main factors were Kahootz’s usability and being able to include context around documents by adding comments, using version control and setting up workflows,” Mackenzie says.

“Also, although we were only looking for 50 users to start with, Kahootz were well priced for that amount.

“We felt that when the tool was rolled out it would grow quite quickly, so the fact that the licences would come down in price when we increased the number of users was great for us. The other products that we considered would have come out significantly more expensive.”

Multiple uses

Following the deployment of Kahootz, it became clear that the platform could be utilised in a number of different ways.

“Initially it was used for a variety of reasons. We didn’t have a particularly brilliant intranet at certainly one of the two authorities, so Kahootz became an intranet between the two for a while.

“Since then, the main use has been for team workspaces so users can collaborate together and for individual project workspaces that work across teams as well.

“It has allowed us to keep a simple set of documentation that anyone can access from anywhere which has proven useful for a number of teams, and in particular the coastal team.”

The coastal team (the Eastern Solent Coastal Partnership) is an alliance between Havant Borough, Fareham, and Gosport Borough Councils plus Portsmouth City Council, with a team of specialist coastal officers and engineers who manage 162km of coastline. The platform has proved to be vital for them.

“They use Kahootz quite a lot, as it enables them to upload their content as and when they need it, without having to login to the relevant authority’s network. The fact that they can use web-enabled devices out on the beach is also important.”

Positive impact

It is fair to say that Kahootz has had a positive impact within Havant Borough Council and on its collaborations with external partners.

“Overall, I would definitely recommend Kahootz as it has all of the functionality that we need,” said Mackenzie.

“It has also helped speed up decision making. The fact that we can just create a workspace quickly, add some users and know that it’s safe and secure has helped us immensely.

“Because we’re able to invite external people into Kahootz from other local authorities, it has meant that we don’t have to give them access to our network systems. Instead, we can simply grant access to Kahootz for a short period of time and they can get the information that they need that way.”

Future collaborations

Looking forward, Havant are now planning to use Kahootz for future collaborations with other local authorities. This is just one reason why user numbers are continuing to grow, from 50 to 480 today.

“I can certainly envisage us using Kahootz for a good while longer, especially when we’re working on projects with a number of external people.

“From a team point of view, the programme office is looking to sell our consultancy resources outside of the two authorities under our VTR brand, so having a tool such as Kahootz is going to be a really useful way for us to do that. It’s a lot easier than getting access to each individual network.”

Before procurement, Havant Borough Council trialled Kahootz. You can too by starting a FREE, no obligation, 30-day trial.

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