Key Messages and Recommendations
A quality information knowledge base where information is relevant to users' needs, readily accessible, accurate and up-to-date with built in measures to review documents is an invaluable resource for service delivery organisations.
It is clear that the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) is committed to providing a quality information knowledge system through the provision of the Knowledge Bank which holds policy, technical guidance, manuals, case law, circulars, etc.
The Knowledge Bank has greatly improved since it was first introduced and it continues to evolve. There is a specific skill set required to create web pages and maintain and edit content. Following a COPFS communications survey in 2012 and a project designed to identify measures to improve the communication of legal guidance, changes have been made to the way that materials are structured and the format, with key facts and messages now highlighted and more links to the main guidance.
We have, however, identified that the overarching vision and strategic aims of the Knowledge Bank have not been formulated and recorded. Clarification of the strategic focus will assist in providing a clear direction for the future of the Knowledge Bank. Further, the skills that have developed in the management of the Knowledge Bank should be captured in a set of specific desk instructions for continuity purposes.
Historically, the Knowledge Bank was the repository of information for use by legal and precognition staff but it now also contains materials for use by administrative and Victim Information and Advice (VIA) staff although there appears to be a lack of awareness on the part of some administrative and VIA staff of the inclusion of relevant material for their purposes and as a whole they access it less often than their legal counterparts. Publicising the full range of materials and the relevance of those materials to administrative and VIA staff should increase their use of the Knowledge Bank.
There is scope for making more use of the Knowledge Bank facility and there is a desire for the Knowledge Bank to become a 'one stop shop' where all information relating to all aspects of COPFS work will be located including information on the specialist divisions and general information such as the Staff Handbook. Moving towards a 'one stop shop' will require additional support to the existing team to assist with improving quality assurance of the current material on the Knowledge Bank and in particular eliminating duplication and out of date guidance.
Staff operating the Knowledge Bank are dedicated to providing a quality service and committed to getting information knowledge to staff in the most user friendly format. However, there is scope to provide more information on a wider range of topics (eg specialist information) and it is acknowledged that there are restrictions on the accessibility due to the limitations with the current software application, including the inability to provide information in different formats, for example, videos and links to e-learning modules, links to information from process maps1, etc and real-time interaction.
The consultation exercise that we undertook confirmed that staff view the Knowledge Bank as a valuable resource but it highlighted a number of issues with the current IT limitations. The constraints imposed by the current IT system have been recognised by COPFS and should be addressed with the new software platform to be introduced later this year. The proposed upgrade should, if successfully implemented, deal with the issues flagged up by staff. We look forward to reviewing the Knowledge Bank once the upgraded intranet system is up and running.
It is noted that overall satisfaction with the Knowledge Bank, especially for the current main users (legal and precognition staff) is very good and we believe that implementing the recommendations made in this report in conjunction with the improved internal website will go a long way to achieving additional satisfaction.
The following recommendations have been made:
To develop and support a shared vision of the role of the Knowledge Bank, it is recommended that a clear direction and strategic focus for the Knowledge Bank is set and communicated. Further, actions and objectives on how to achieve the overarching aims are identified and recorded within the performance agreements of those responsible for delivering these aims, including the Legal Editor, with measurable outcomes that can be assessed.
It is recommended that desk instructions are created for the processes and work relating to the management and maintenance of the Knowledge Bank.
A reminder should be issued to all staff responsible for submitting information to the Knowledge Bank that a Communications Cover Sheet must be submitted and that the library staff are available to provide advice on format, especially where large documents are involved.
To assist with improving quality assurance of the current material on the Knowledge Bank and in particular eliminating duplication and out of date guidance and to move towards the Knowledge Bank as a single source of all information, it is recommended that consideration is given to providing additional support to the existing resource available to the Legal Editor.
It is recommended that the relevance of the content of the Knowledge Bank for all staff is publicised through PF Eye and team briefings with specific examples provided to demonstrate the usefulness and importance of the information contained in the Knowledge Bank.
It is recommended that the Legal Editor and Staff Information Manager take account of suggestions made by staff in our feedback survey when making future improvements to the Knowledge Bank.