When the Citizens Advice Bureau found itself struggling with email to share content with external partners, it took advice from Huddle. This is a great story of how Huddle empowered Citizens Advice teams on both sides of the firewall to be much more engaged and interactive—allowing them to securely collaborate on shared documents, benefit from secure file sharing, facilitatedocument management, and use it as a discussion forum.

The Citizens Advice Bureau helps people resolve their legal, financial and other issues by providing advice and information and influencing policymakers. Their service itself consists of 394 Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB) across England and Wales and Citizens Advice, which acts as the central hub for the organization.

The frustrations of email collaboration

Frequently working with numerous external partners on proposals, contracts and plans, Citizens Advice found itself sharing documents via email as it was unable to give external parties access to its IT infrastructure. With much of the registered charity’s funding coming from the government, the organization was aware of the data security risks associated with sending files via email. Owing to the volume of documents emailed back and forth, there was also significant confusion surrounding document versions and naming conventions.

The launch of two key projects prompted Citizens Advice to look at ways of improving communication and collaboration across the organization’s ecosystem of internal teams and external suppliers and partners.

Mark Abbott, Business Support Manager, Citizens Advice, explains: “With an organizational restructure taking place and the launch of the Network Development project, which is examining the future of the CAB network in England and Wales, we had to find a secure and robust way of sharing information internally and with external consultants and partners. Relying on our network drives and email to cope with the megabytes of files being transferred to and fro just wasn’t good enough. People were working on outdated documents and there was no transparency around the information being shared.”

Keeping information secure, yet accessible

When looking at alternative collaboration solutions, having the correct security requirements in place was a deciding factor for Citizens Advice. Having used Huddle when working with the UK government’s Department of Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS), the Citizens Advice team selected the tool for use across its own organization.

“The team had seen Huddle in action when working with BIS and loved the flexibility it provided and its intuitive interface,” Mark continues. “Huddle has transformed our working practices and there are now no more round-robin emails within project teams. Although an intranet was used for the first phase of the Network Development project, Huddle has enabled teams to be much more engaged and interactive as it allows them to comment, provide feedback and edit the information uploaded into workspaces. The control element of Huddle also means that we can limit who has access to specific documents, depending on their roles in a project.”

External parties, including local CABs, members of Citizens Advice, funding consultants and legal advisors, now have full visibility of the documents they need access to and can work on them securely. “Given the fact that we provide free and impartial advice to people, working in partnership with civil legal aid services, we have to ensure that all our documentation is updated regularly to accommodate new legislation and changes to the law. With Huddle, there has been a significant improvement in the process and we can easily look back at previous versions of a document if we need to cross-reference anything. In terms of business continuity, the team can also rest assured that should our internal IT systems go down, we can still access all of the information we need in Huddle.”

Being cloud-based, Huddle provides the organization’s home workers, which make up approximately a quarter of its workforce, with secure access to the content they need when working remotely or on the move. Citizens Advice also plans to roll out the Huddle mobile application to employees’ smartphones and tablets in the near future.

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