What we do – and it’s been happening for the past three years – is dictated by our current information and IT strategy: we nailed our colours to the mast and said we wanted to be a centre for excellence for the management of information and data.
From the start we were determined to tidy up and manage our information assets before we introduced our new corporate Sharepoint Electronic Document Management solution.
There are many reasons why effort should be put into the management of data and its quality.
For example, there’s real value in having accurate information as well as creating an environment of trust. If we want to put it online or make it publically available, then we have to demonstrate that we are looking after that data properly. We know what happens when you lose information - you lose that trust.
We’ve built one of the UK’s largest customer data hubs which pulls together customer information from all our main systems. This forms the foundation on which we will provide more cost efficient customer centric services. The project (our Client Index) is a DCLG Exemplar for data sharing in the public sector.
Responsibility for data at Brent starts at the very top. I’ve got the day-to-day Chief Information Officer role. Each one of our directors is a Senior Information Risk Owner (SIRO) in their own right – so we have a SIRO for every department.
Then we have an information governance group which ensures we are reaching out to all the key areas of the authority. Within each department we have ‘information owners’: they’re responsible for the day-to-day running of information in their areas.c.
And there’s real money to be saved by having accurate and timely information. We removed 1.2m files which we just sitting there in areas which were no longer needed or past their retention dates. We calculated we’ve saved £100,000.
You can’t protect data until you know what you’ve got: if you have a bit of a mess, it’s very difficult to move ahead.
We’ve made a good start but IA is never ending. Get buy-in from the top but do not assume you will tidy everything up overnight – you have to keep working at it.
Tony Ellis, head of IT, Brent LBC