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Guest post: working smarter is at the heart of transformation at Defra

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Julie Pierce


Like all government departments, Defra has taken up the challenge to transform the way it operates to ensure customers will receive services they expect and demand, now and in the future. Working smarter is at the heart of transforming and streamlining the Defra Network.

Communication and hence the underpinning communication infrastructure, whether fixed or mobile, is increasingly important. We in Defra recognise the need to improve the base communication service provided to its offices and continue to seek opportunities to make improvements.


Our goal is to create the best possible working environment with technology that meets everyone’s needs. This ranges from improving the communication infrastructure, to giving people the right tools to do their job. A number of changes are already in progress to achieve this goal:

  • As part of the PC Refresh Project, we have rolled out 6, 000 new Eden 7 laptops across the Network and the rollout hasn’t yet finished. Throughout the deployment the satisfaction rate has remained over 90% (from initial communication through to post deployment support). The rollout has made a real impact on smart and sustainable working.
  • The Public Services Network (PSN) is a pan-government initiative which enables government departments to safely share services, collaborate in different ways, more effectively and efficiently than before and save money. Migration to PSN is underway to enable greater inter-connectivity across Defra, as well as new joined-up and shared public services that will benefit citizens.
  • A review of the telephony system is also underway with the possibility of providing a fully integrated solution merging voice across all devices, email, instant messaging (IM) and video. This can follow people as they move from office to office and device to device. The Defra Network requires business flexibility and agility. A good quality communication system is critical to support this and will only be achieved through combined infrastructure provision that is fit for the entirety of the Defra Network. A number of agencies have been running pilots, both technical and business, as the potential change from working with the current system to the future unified communications system is a large one.
  • Another recent change has seen the implementation of new video conferencing facilities at offices in London, York, Bristol and Worcester, enabling better and more effective collaboration between businesses in the Defra Network.
  • Defra has also hosted two Sprints to share SME (small and medium enterprises), digital and innovation solutions, and Agile approaches across the organisation.

We will continue to make improvements to the telecoms services and the devices civil servants in Defra use in their daily work.

I'd be interested to hear if there are areas of particular concern or opportunities to make a real impact. Or indeed, whether anyone would like to get more involved.

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