LG Inform - Age UK: easy access to key data sources

The LGA and Age UK are working collaboratively to determine how the LG Inform software applications and data services (offered by the LGA to local authorities) could be used to benefit a not for profit (NFP) organisation. Specifically, the aim was to see how LG Inform could help Age UK to meet their own internal data and reporting requirements and also those of their national brand partner network

Data and transparency

The challenge:

Age UK’s mission is to ‘support older people who need them most’. In order to achieve this, the organisation and its brand partners (independent local charities operating under the Age UK aegis) were seeking a way to access contemporary and accessible data to help them locate and identify these individuals. The Age UK network of brand partners also needed data as evidence to support key business operations such as grant applications, contract bids, fundraising and sponsorship activities. In addition, Age UK itself needed data to underpin decisions around the design and delivery of services for older people in most need, and also to assist with income generation for the organisation by demonstrating both need and value to contract and grant givers.

The solution:

Age UK had previously been using an Excel based system to access relevant public data. This was neither intuitive or interactive and relied upon manual updating. LG Inform provided the organisation and their brand partners with a flexible solution which allowed them to easily access a much larger set of reliable and up to date data online. Information could be viewed in a variety of ways, including maps, charts, bespoke reports and raw data. This flexibility meant that users could pick and choose different elements from LG Inform which could be exported from the tool and used in presentations and other documents.

The ability to create bespoke reports in LG Inform was particularly valuable to Age UK and their brand partners who now have the ability to create reports themselves and use these either in their entirety or by picking appropriate elements from them to support strategy planning, service delivery, applications, bids and fundraising activity.

LG Inform was launched to brand partners at the Age UK annual conference and a series of workshops which were well attended and well received were run which served to promote LG Inform as widely as possible.

The impact:

Previously smaller brand partner organisations had not had the capability to access or manipulate data and had either relied on the national Age UK organisation to provide much of this or had managed without. Being intuitive and interactive, LG Inform now allows brand partners to be much more self-sufficient when accessing the data and creating reports and as a result decision making is now data-enabled and driven. This also created a time and resource saving at national level as Age UK was no longer having to provide this information for partners.

Easy access to LG Inform has helped encourage the use of data within Age UK and its brand partners and to develop the use of data in decision making. Previously accessing similar data had involved visiting multiple sources, pulling these together, formatting and analysing data which could be a daunting or off-putting process. LG Inform makes data access a more straightforward and user- friendly experience and is backed up by a strong support team: who understand the data and the software application.

LG Inform has led to the decentralising of data provision and affords Age UK and their brand partners the ability to more easily present and access data. This has helped Age UK and its partners on the one hand to demonstrate need and on the other to deliver more relevant, effective and efficient services.

Sustainability:

After launching the tool at their annual conference, Age UK regularly promote LG Inform to their staff in the national organisation via their intranet. Four bespoke reports were created fine-tuned to Age UK’s specific data needs, which encourages adoption of the tool by providing off-the-shelf data availability. Initially the reports were sent to partner CEO’s but alerts now go to programme managers, data managers and operations managers to increase awareness and use of LG Inform.

The LGA also provide a support function including holding partner-specific training events in London and allowing partners to occasionally attend regional training days intended for other users.

Lessons learnt:

Age UK explain: “The main challenge was encouraging adoption of LG Inform by partners particularly those who had previously found data analysis difficult or who had had negative experiences using data in the past. After launch, continuing to hold regular promotions, reminders and training opportunities for LG Inform helped to encourage users to experiment with it and understand the range of flexible functionality available to them”.

For more information about LG Inform please contact: Ian Carbutt, Programme Manager, LG Inform: ian.carbutt@local.gov.uk