Say hello to the 2019 Award Winners!
Each year the IRMS recognises excellence in the field of information management with our prestigious Industry Awards. These highly sought-after awards are presented at a glittering ceremony following our Gala Dinner, the centrepiece of our annual Conference. Here you can find out more about each finalist and why they made it through to the final membership vote!
Professional of the Year:
Tim has been self employed for a very long time but had a large proportion of his income from Act Now – in a bit of a dramatic split, Tim went his separate ways and created course content from scratch. He has also provided some guides free gratis to the charity sector which have been invaluable to a sector which is extremely stretched and has been heavily fined by the ICO. Online he can come across as a troll but in person, he is nothing but the consummate professional. He is extremely knowledgeable and his courses are fantastic. He even created the uncertified DPO badge which took LinkedIn by storm. He has gone from nothing to something and whilst GDPR may have been a massive contributor, Tim brings with him a wealth of knowledge and expertise that is like no other.
Team of the Year:
Information & Records Management Service, Houses of Parliament:
A team of 10 staff, the Information and Records Management Service (IRMS) delivers innovative, practical policies and solutions to help staff manage information more easily to support their work whilst at the same time ensuring Parliament meets its statutory obligations. Based in the Parliamentary Archives we are also responsible for identification and transfer of information with historical value, which will become the archives of the future.
Since mid-2017 we have been working on a partnership programme with the Parliamentary Digital Service to design, configure and roll-out Office 365 across the two Houses - that’s 183 teams, around 3000 people and over 200 SharePoint sites. One of the largest digital transformation programmes in recent years, the roll-out replaced multiple legacy document stores (including Meridio EDRMS, on-premise 2010 SharePoint sites, shared and personal drives) with state-of-the-art cloud technology.
Recognised early on as a critical supplier to the programme, our team were there every step of the way, from working with users to cleanse information prior to migration, designing document libraries and metadata tags to improve retrieval of information, to delivering training to super-users. By working so closely with the Digital Service on the delivery, we made sure this wasn’t simply a technology roll-out, but an opportunity to raise awareness of and compliance with information management across the board.
We have also fully decommissioned the Meridio EDRMS. By making engagement with disposal a prerequisite of getting a new SharePoint site, we got approval to delete over 75,000 folders containing over half a million documents which were out of retention. Of the remainder, about 2.5 million were migrated to new SharePoint sites. In collaboration with the Parliamentary Archives’ Preservation and Access Team, we also successfully implemented digital transfer from the EDRMS to our digital archive of approximately 250,000 records. This is a significant achievement in a complex and high profile organisation, and will ensure the preservation of unique and significant records from the past decade for generations to come. Some of the records identified demonstrate Parliament’s response to era-defining events – like those of the Select Committee on Exiting the European Union – whilst records from ad-hoc Committees scrutinise issues as diverse as Artificial Intelligence, Political Polling and Sexual Violence in Conflict.
To the best of our knowledge, we are the first UK institution to deliver end-to-end digital records transfer to a corporate digital repository.
Julia Jones has made a lifelong contribution to the information management community. During a forty year career, she has held a diverse range of posts across the UK in libraries, information services, digital sciences and archives.
Graduating from the Polytechnic of North London in 1978, she received that year’s only first class degree in Librarianship. Following a spell at Luton Public Library, she moved on to Kings and Emmanuel College Libraries at Cambridge University. In 1984 she moved into information management for the first time, taking the information manager job at the prestigious Turing Institute, serving members of the Institute, Strathclyde University staff and students and large corporate clients. Here she put her librarian skills to excellent use by building a library from scratch. Alongside the library, she designed a unique and comprehensive bibliographic database with abstracts for Artificial Intelligence which could be searched full-text - quite cutting edge for the mid 1980s! Additionally, access to the database became a source of revenue for the Institute.
After 3 years at Turing, Julia moved to the Building Design Partnership as the Information and Business Computing Manager, where she established libraries at 8 offices, as well as an information service and supported the practice in its attainment of ISO2001. She also managed the team that rolled out Microsoft Office across the organisation.
In 1991, she moved into consultancy, working as Manager of Research and Information Services at McKinsey, simultaneously earning her MBA as a part time student. At Egon Zehnder International, an executive search company, she was Director of Research, designing and and deploying a CRM system, including completion of a project to digitise and upload all candidate files. It was also here that she held her first data protection role, with responsibility for policy and compliance. For three years between 2002 and 2004, Julia was Head of Science, Technology and Innovation at The British Library, where she oversaw a major change programme focused on improved service in the Science Reading Rooms, restructuring of a large team and streamlining processes.
Julia had a complete career change in 2004, trying her hand a running a pub and raising a family simultaneously. The landlady’s life was not really for her (although her daughter loved it and became the youngest member of the British Institute of Inn-keeping at aged 18). In 2005 Julia returned to her previous professional life, this time as an Information Architect at DSTL in Porton Down, Wiltshire, where she was responsible for developing the architecture for the organisation’s electronic document and evidence management system.
From DSTL, she was recruited to Whitehead Mann LLP, as Head of Research and Information where she undertook a strategic review of knowledge and document management processes and resources, oversaw the database management, information services and research associates teams and introduced better management information for the organisation. She once again took on responsibility for data protection policy and compliance.
Julia has spent the last decade of her career in the public sector, first at The National Archives (TNA) in Kew, then at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA). At TNA she spent six years as Head of Information Management and Practice, where she streamlined processes, doubling the capacity for handling intake of records from government departments and public bodies. Some IRMS members will know Julia from this period of her career either through her advocacy for good information management, through the many stakeholder groups and seminars that she ran or was involved with or perhaps through joint consideration of FOI requests for documents held at TNA.
From 2015, she spent three years as Head of Information Management at IICSA, developing the Inquiry’s strategy, policy and governance around information and again overseeing the information architecture that now stores IICSA’s corporate records. In 2018, she became the Data Protection Officer for an organisation processing a very high proportion of personal data across its information set. She attained a BCS certification whilst establishing a small data protection team and prepared the Inquiry for the implementation of GDPR. Julia retired in December 2018, closing a career spanning 40 years, across public and private sectors. Her CV includes almost all elements of the information management profession. Yet Julia is much more than an impressive CV.
In the 10 years that I have known her, and particularly in her final roles at IICSA where I worked closely with her, she has been a source of knowledge, expertise and wisdom. Her wide experience has benefited countless people, evidenced by the endless stream of current and former colleagues who seek her advice and friendship over coffee or lunch.
She has been a constant supporter of better information and records management throughout her long career, frequently speaking at conferences to highlight the vital work that our profession does. She has been involved in many professional bodies such as IRMS, CILIP and NGLIS and willingly shares her knowledge with anyone interested in expanding their own understanding.
She is wholly deserving of the recognition that comes with the IRMS Lifetime Achievement Award.
Me Learning Ltd:
In January 2018 the Information Governance Officer at The National Church Institutions (NCIs) of the Church of England (CoE) began evaluating training providers, to deliver GDPR training to both the NCIs themselves; and to the wider Church. The CoE has well in excess of 100,000 volunteers, clergy and employees. The seven NCIs are the central bodies that support the day-to-day work of churches across England and have around 500 permanent and fixed-term employees. Across the country, the Church’s regional organisation comprises 42 dioceses, 45 cathedrals and 42 diocesan bishops’ offices. And there are then approximately 12,000 parishes, with 16,000 churches.
We weren’t keen on face-to-face training because it is expensive, and often not the most effective method of training. We wanted e-learning because, as well as being more cost-effective, we liked the fact that people can complete modules in their own preferred time and can stop and start, improving the response to a mandatory training requirement. We also wanted a final test, and quizzes embedded in the learning, and something that allows for a diverse and wide-spread organisation to deliver standardised learning. A specific requirement was the need for “tiered” learning that allows different configurations of learning and time commitment for different employees at different levels of responsibility, from basic to advanced, so that learning can be targeted to the role. This would mean learners get just the right material to do their jobs, and money is not wasted on over-licensing.
When we reviewed what was available, Me Learning stood out head and shoulders above others. Courses came with five levels of role-based learning, a precise content outline and learning objectives, plus clear definitions of appropriate audiences. The GDPR courses had also been produced in conjunction with a law firm so we felt that the quality of courses could be assured and having previewed the material it was clear they had done their homework. Once we had contacted Me Learning, the account manager met with us in London, and we were given access to demo versions of the courses in February 2018.
The CoE as a dispersed organisation, had many localised needs, and when the course content was circulated to stakeholders, they responded with a set of changes and personalisation to target the courses directly to the Church’s needs. Not only was Me Learning able to accommodate this personalisation, it was achieved without disrupting an ambitious timeline.
The GDPR legislation came into force on May 25th, 2018, by which time training had to be under way. It meant that Me Learning had just eight weeks to build and personalise the NCIs portal, customise the content and carry out testing before going live. In the case of the much larger wider Church programme, deadlines were as short as four weeks. There was no room for error – but the deployment was seamless and on schedule. We were also able to negotiate with Me Learning to get all 5 levels of the training for the same low cost per head, rather than having to spend £100’s of pounds for the more intensive, 5-hour courses.
The NCIs licences cover employees, volunteers, trustees, contractors and agency staff. Usage is unlimited, meaning that within 12 months, employees are free to use as much content as they want, provided we approve it, and learners can go back over what they have already done. Access is via one of two branded Church of England portals – the NCIs and the wider church. For the NCIs the Learning and Development team act as account administrators, which means we can add new starters, allow people to take more modules, run reports, or take off leavers ourselves. The NCI system went live in late April, and every member of staff, including senior managers was asked to complete the relevant course. Doing e-learning was new to the NCIs, and it improved take-up and responsiveness.
The tailored bite-size modules meant that staff could build training around their schedules and could access it in the office, on the train or at home, ensuring a better rate of completion. The courses also count towards Continuing Professional Development (CPD). By the end of July 2018, we had achieved a completion rate of over 97%. Providing the same training to the wider Church was more challenging, because as independent entities the dioceses etc are free to select their own training. However, we negotiated a framework agreement, at the same low cost per head for all 5 courses, which included multiple payment methods, so that individuals or dioceses could purchase as many or as few licenses as they wished. This allows dioceses to bulk buy licenses and have learners uploaded by Me Learning but it also means a vicar in a parish can sign-up and pay for an individual license directly.
Me Learning designed and set up a bespoke portal for the wider church, https://www.melearning.co.uk/cofe-elearning-hub/so that GDPR e-learning was made available in a first use of on-demand online structured learning on this scale in the CoE.
By early July 2018, 19 Church bodies (made up of cathedrals and dioceses) as well as hundreds of parishes had opted in to the portal. This figure has continued to increase, and by late 2018 over 1,800 learners had been trained. We experienced was exceptional customer service. We found that having a single point of contact with Me Learning through the account manager invaluable; he was immediately responsive to queries, he met with us as often as we needed, and he co-ordinated all of the bespoke work we required.
We were impressed with the company’s flexibility, responsiveness and patience and were very pleased with the breadth and depth of content. Me Learning’s willingness to help us personalise the look and feel and even some of the specifics of courses, their friendliness and professionalism in going the extra mile, and their ability to do all of the work in an exceptionally short timescale makes them our Supplier of the Year.
Innovation of the Year:
Hackney Council & MySociety FOI Request Service
Hackney Council receive over 2000 Freedom of Information Requests annually with a 14% increase year on year. We worked in partnership with mySociety to develop a front end FOI request service that points to existing published information where it is available. This has the potential to help Councils to reduce their costs relating to answering requests and increase their compliance with FOI legislation. In turn this benefits society by improving transparency. As we shall outline below the service has already removed the need for at least 40 FOI submissions, and at the current rate should save a minimum of £12,000 each year.
All of the outputs of this work are being shared free of charge publicly. The code is open source, available on GitHub , the user research has been shared on our user research library and our updates on our ongoing project are being shared on Pipeline. Discovery and Prototyping To find out how we might improve the FOI service, we started with discovery and prototyping to explore how we could:
- help users better submit clear and valid requests
- integrate this request form with other sources of information (including with a disclosure log) to try and help users find what they need more quickly and conveniently
- integrate with case management services so that queries are answered quickly and information published openly wherever possible
- use information from previous requests to speed the allocation of a particular request to a specific council service
- support compliance with current legislation As well as prompting with previous FOI responses from a new disclosure log, we also wanted to include relevant links to other topical or frequently requested information, drawn from other data sources within the council.
We hoped that this could have a number of benefits:
- Helping the person submitting the FOI get their answer more quickly
- Reducing the number of requests that would otherwise have been sent to the council
- Encouraging more proactive, structured publishing of data by the council.
After testing a clickable prototype, we went on to develop a solution in line with all of the points above. The result is a front end request service that provides:
- Contextual advice: we wanted to give users advice about how to write a good FOI request, but as per one of the principals above, we decided to reveal these tips as a user is writing their request.
- Suggested content : also related to the same principal above, we wanted to show users content that may answer their question before they submit their request to try and reduce requests for already published information.
We added in a “Before you continue” page that is intended to show both previous FOI requests from a disclosure log and links to published information on the website that are judged by the system to potentially answer the user’s request.