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How Teams is supporting our response to the COVID-19 pandemic

18 September 2020

In late March 2020 we established the Community Response Unit (CRU) to make sure vulnerable residents are supported through the coronavirus outbreak.

For the CRU to operate effectively for local communities we needed an IT solution that would enable:

  • collaborative working across a number of locations
  • recording and triaging of requests for help from vulnerable people and from those people who wanted to volunteer
  • sharing of information and files between team members (some of which is highly sensitive)
  • sharing of information with partners
  • the ability to analyse information and produce reports

Our IT team immediately suggested Microsoft Teams and other Microsoft apps as an appropriate ICT solution.

MS Teams enabled the CRU to create a number of 'channels' or dedicated sections for the project. Using channels enabled us to create a standard channel that everyone in the CRU and partners could access and a private channel that could have restricted access to a small number of CRU and other council staff. Among other things, this private channel enabled the CRU to have information on those people in Derbyshire who were ‘shielding’ but restrict its access to a limited number of people.

Within the standard CRU channel we were able to create folders and files so that information relevant to the CRU team could be stored in one easily accessible place that anyone with permission to use the CRU team could access. This also enabled different CRU team members to work collaboratively on the same document without having to worry about whether they were they working on the latest version.

The CRU team also made use of a wider range of apps within Microsoft 365. So, for example the CRU used Microsoft Forms to create an online form that vulnerable residents could complete to register for help and support. Every Team has access to SharePoint and we were able to create a ‘list’ that was automatically populated from the online form.

This allowed all CRU staff to have access to every help request received to process that request, share information with partners and ensure that we could monitor progress – vital to ensuring that no help requests were missed or had a delayed response.

The other app that the CRU made great use of was Power BI that enabled data to be analysed and create a visual dashboard to share that with stakeholders. Power BI allowed us to interrogate data so that we could provide bespoke reports at district and smaller levels on the number of requests for help, types of requests etc.

Darran West, one of the group managers in public health who led the CRU work said:

“By using Microsoft Teams and other Microsoft 365 apps, we were able to establish IT functionality that enabled the CRU and its partners to receive and respond to help requests from vulnerable residents a matter of days after the CRU was established.”

On Wednesday 23 September 2020, Darren will be discussing this further in an online session, COVID-19 and Teams, as part of our Transforming Derbyshire discussion groups.

Find out more or join this and other Teams week sessions.