Across the public sector, collaboration is changing the way people work. Departments and agencies are achieving more, for less money, by bringing teams together and joining up with external partners to work towards common objectives.
In central government, where the need for greater efficiency and less wastage has been placed under particularly close scrutiny in recent years, the drive to create an environment of collaboration and joined up government continues to gather momentum. In every area, from procurement and child protection to media relations and law enforcement, public sector workers are finding new ways to work collaboratively. And an increasing number of departments are using cloud collaboration tools to reach those goals.
Here are some examples of what can be achieved through collaboration:
Agencies unite against cybercrime threat
A new initiative spearheaded by the National Crime Agency (NCA) is believed to be the first of its kind in UK law enforcement. The NCA has brought other agencies and private sector partners from around the world together to combat the Shylock trojan, a form of malware used by criminals to target bank accounts.
The project is a collaborative effort that involves organisations as diverse as the FBI, Europol, GCHQ, Kaspersky Lab and the German Federal Police. Andy Archibald, deputy director of the NCA's National Cyber Crime Unit, said the initiative "demonstrates how we are using partnerships across sectors and across national boundaries to cut cyber crime impacting the UK".
Unified communications plan drives up standards
The newly formed Government Communication Service (GCS) was created to improve standards of communications - both internally and externally - across government by working collaboratively. "We will be more unified, more valued and more skilled than ever before," said executive director of government communications Alex Aiken earlier this year.
As part of the project, a new central support function - the GCS Corporate Support Service - was also implemented. This is a Cabinet Office team with the remit of providing strategic support for departments to remove waste and duplication, share insight and help to encourage innovative approaches to communications across government.
Cross-sector network tackles underachievement in US schools
This one takes us outside Whitehall and Westminster, but is worth highlighting as an example of how a diverse range of stakeholders can effectively work together on a major issue. Back in 2012, an article in the Guardian by Tim Cooper of Accenture rightly highlighted the efforts of StriveTogether, a non-profit body in the US, which was set up to help underachieving students in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.
The project began with an ambitious aim (to assess the effectiveness of the education lifecycle from nursery through to secondary school and beyond) and a grand scope (it was realised that a large number of different bodies would have to collaborate to achieve systematic change).
A network of 300 leaders in business, government, education and advocacy groups was created. The combined budget of the participating organisations totalled about $7 billion (£4.2 billion), whereas Strive's annual budget was just $1.5 million. The project succeeded through a highly transparent approach - all decisions were based on a common set of data and evidence that each partner had signed up to. As Mr Cooper noted in conclusion: "Public managers will have to be more adept at managing diverse networks of organisations if they are to make progress against social objectives."