Creating a Digital Skills Hub - Week notes – Week 1


It’s been an extremely rewarding week at BwD as we start to engage with our Digital Champions on our journey to launching the Digital Skills Hub. Both myself and my colleague Flynn, who is an Apprentice Business Analyst, have been fortunate enough to start introducing ourselves to each Champion. What has been so encouraging to hear is the enthusiasm each Champion has for wanting to find more efficient ways of working, by using new digital products & features. I was especially impressed with those that have really stepped out of their comfort zone to sign up to the Champion Network because they want to show others that if they can learn and understand the new digital features then anyone can.

My role as an Assistant Service Designer for the Microsoft 365 project is to work with champions and colleagues to maximise the adoption of the digital tools that we have available to us. I have spent the past few months learning and researching some of the products that we will be rolling out across the council over the coming months. Being able to link in with other councils' digital departments and carry out user research, has been crucial in helping me to propose a solution to the way in which we can adopt the Microsoft 365 products here at BwD. By listening to those who are further into their adoption journey I have been able to learn what worked well for them, what didn’t and what they would do differently - if they knew then, what they know now.

Two things really stood out to me as being key elements of their adoption journey. The first being a Digital Champion Network who are able to bring knowledge of their service area together with learning how to use the new products and features. The second being a Digital Skills Hub, where staff could easily access short video tutorials and step by step guides to using the new products as and when they need them.

Digital Champions role

  • Represent their service area and how digital transformation can be integrated
  • Willingness to share learning, knowledge, barriers and help other colleagues
  • To challenge ideas and think about the end user experience being inclusive
  • Share their experience and any hints and tips they have picked up along the way
  • Try out new equipment and provide feedback on its suitability for their job role, digital ability and accessibility
  • Identify business challenges within their service area and possible solutions

How we recruited

When we first started to recruit for the Digital Champion Network it was going to be called a Staff User Research Group, sometimes the word digital can be a barrier to those less confident with technology and obviously the word champion gives you the impression that you have to be really skilled in that area. However, a couple of other groups doing user research were launching around the same time and we thought it may get confusing. So back to the name Digital Champions it was. However, the next recruitment drive really focused on the need for those less confident to come forward, highlighting how valuable their input would be in helping us to see the potential barriers some face and how we can help to overcome them.

Digital Skills Hub

After looking at different options for a Digital Skills Hub there was one option that stood out head and shoulders above the rest and that was - The Learning Pathways Site by Microsoft. Why is this the best solution I hear you ask?

  • Well, it contains everything we need to enable our employees to access quick and reliable content for learning the new products and features we will be rolling out.
  • The content is updated by Microsoft so we don’t have to spend hours producing videos and resources that are out of date every time a new feature is added and believe me that happens a lot because they are always listening to the feedback of their users.
  • It allows us to add our own branding, name and as much or as little of our own custom content as we like.
  • And it’s totally Free!

Yes, you read that last bit right, I said FREE!

My goals for next week are to:

  • Continue with the design content of the Digital Skills Hub
  • Launch the Digital Champions Teams Site and prepare for the first Network Meeting
  • Start to pull together a campaign plan to launch the Digital Skills Hub

By Lara Lowe on 11th Mar 2022
Lara is an assistant Service Designer at Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council.