DECC overcomes email limitations with Huddle 

The Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) (now part of the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy) works to make sure the UK has secure, clean, affordable energy supplies and promote international action to mitigate climate change. The ministerial department employs around 1,600 staff based in London and Aberdeen.

The Department of Energy & Climate Change works to make sure the UK has secure, clean, affordable energy supplies and promote international action to mitigate climate change. The ministerial department employs around 1,600 staff based in London and Aberdeen.

It is one of the largest infrastructure programmes in the UK and key parts of the programme are being driven using Huddle. The Smart Meter Programme will play an important part in Britain’s transition to a low-carbon economy and help homeowners and small and medium businesses take control of their energy consumption and save money. Between now and 2020, energy suppliers will be responsible for replacing more than 53 million gas and electricity meters. This will involve visits to 30 million homes and small businesses. 

So where does Huddle fit into this ambitious Smart Meter Programme? The Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) is spearheading the Programme and it was apparent from the start of the implementation that the Department needed secure, timely and transparent communication and collaboration with a wide range of stakeholders and partners. Huddle answered the call.

“Smart metering is a major government and industry programme and a key component of the Coalition Government’s strategy for making the transition to a low carbon economy,” explains David Rigal, senior policy advisor and programme operations manager, DECC. “Its success hinges on teams and individuals inside and outside of Government collaborating seamlessly on the documentation necessary to produce key outputs for the programme. Huddle was the ideal choice here, based on its pan government accreditation at IL2, cross-firewall collaboration and ease of use.”


"Huddle saves us more than £100,000 annually"


Some 300 users now rely on Huddle in different work streams to manage content associated with realising the Smart Meter Programme goals. These work streams range from the commercial stream (which reviews and awards the contracts), to consumer communications (notifying householders and businesses that smart meters are on their way) and delivery teams (the groups supplying and testing the equipment), as well as a range of technical advice and specifications unique to the programme. 

80 per cent of Huddle users external to DECC

The individuals in these work streams are comprised of DECC staff, energy suppliers, network operators, energy service companies, consumers groups, the Ofgem regulator and others. As Huddle enables easy and secure cross-firewall collaboration, the fact that just a fifth of the users work in DECC doesn’t present an issue. 

“We have multiple work streams collaborating in parallel. Each work stream has one or more dedicated Huddle workspaces that individuals are invited into. Here they can share, review, edit and approve documents in a way that is infinitely faster and more secure than email. It’s just as easy to share documents with someone in DECC as it is with a technical expert working in one of the smart meter manufacturing companies,” says Rigal.

Rigal is also quick to point to the perils of email collaboration: 

“If we relied on email in these work streams, documents would go back and forth much more slowly and with very little control over the master version of each document. In one previous instance, where Huddle was not used, we had a problem with emailing files and had to resort to couriering the documents from one location to another.”

Everything points to Huddle making the Smart Meter Programme more productive, more efficient and easier to manage. Rigal comments:

“Some of the technical experts working on the programme have a very expensive day rate, and getting maybe 20 of them together in a room to discuss documents would be prohibitively expensive and not a good use of tax-payers money. Using Huddle, they can remotely view each document, maintain tight control over the versioning and share it with others through the cloud for review and approval. Overall, we estimate that Huddle speeds up the average meeting process by up to 200 per cent.”

Saving more than £100,000 annually

Efficiency is increasing too. For instance, DECC staff no longer need to organise numerous face-to-face meetings or workshops and prepare paper versions of documents. Meetings are set up in the cloud by the participants, technical papers are shared and individuals are asked to approve the document by a pre-assigned time. Gentle reminders are issued by Huddle as the deadline nears. 

“My estimate is that Huddle at times does the work of three or four civil servants, who might otherwise have to manage meetings and supporting paperwork. Overall we estimate the cloud collaboration platform has saved more than £100,000 annually in staff and other resources,” continues Rigal.

Huddle is also popular with users and it even forms a strand of the programme’s business continuity and disaster recovery planning strategy. DECC is switching to an upgraded IT infrastructure, and as it does so, the team are confident that all the documents associated with the Smart Meter Programme are securely stored in the cloud, should a problem arise with recovering data. Huddle is creating quite a stir in DECC, with other groups increasingly relying on this gold standard in secure, cross-firewall collaboration.

“Within DECC, Huddle is now used in this Smart Meter Programme, as well as the Global Carbon Calculator Programme and the Carbon Capture Programme. It’s the only solution of its kind that was up to the job and pan government accredited at IL2. It’s making new friends every day."

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