Research from Iron Mountain has shown that many frontline information management professionals question some of the benefits of sharing services, with almost half (49 percent) of those surveyed highlighting concerns about the possible loss of information as it is moved between locations.
A future of sharing is fast becoming a reality for many of the UK's local authorities: the vast majority (96 percent) are already sharing different services with neighbouring authorities.
These services range from back office functions, ICT and customer services to social care, public health and housing benefits.
Figures provided by councils to the Local Government Association suggest that shared services contributed to savings of half a billion pounds for UK taxpayers in 2016.
Nearly half (44 percent) of Records and Information Management (RIM) staff welcome the greater efficiencies and best practice that shared services can bring, but many doubt whether the move can deliver other key benefits such as reducing workloads, improving performance, facilitating mutual support between professionals or effectively integrating information belonging to different authorities.
While around one in three of the information management professionals surveyed believe such benefits are achievable, senior figures within local authorities are more optimistic. For example, 34 percent of RIMs cite a reduction in work and record duplication as a benefit, compared to 44 percent of business leaders. Similar results are seen for the benefits of overall performance improvement (36 percent RIMs/41 percent business leaders), mutual support (35 percent RIMs/41 percent business leaders) and integrated information (34 percent RIMs/39 percent business leaders).
Almost half (49 percent) of RIMs and a third (33 percent) of business leaders surveyed in the Iron Mountain study believe that having to move information between organisations will place it at greater risk of loss or exposure. Close to one in three in both groups (28 percent RIMs/30 percent business leaders) agree that different approaches to information security could expose sensitive information to greater risk.
Commenting on the research, Phil Greenwood, director at Iron Mountain said, "Our research shows that the drive towards sharing services is widely accepted. However, there's a difference of opinion between those responsible for managing information across the UK's local authorities and the senior business leaders in their organisations. The information managers are more sceptical about results and raise serious concerns about potential information loss and exposure. To address these concerns and ensure that the security of personal information isn't compromised, senior managers and records and information professionals will need to work closely together to identify best practice and make sure it is widely deployed.”