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03 Sep 2010
Imagine running a web-based supermarket price check on local council suppliers simply by clicking your mouse. How about using an online calculator to work out if contractors are giving you a better or worse deal than they do with other councils? And what if you could automatically get the best new ideas and problem-solving tips, together with news, targeted at your profession, just by logging onto your computer?
This, and more, is what the new Efficiency Exchange offers.
What is the Efficiency Exchange?
The Efficiency Exchange is a web-based professional social network, launched by the Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) in 2010. It has over 800 members - including some from as far afield as Australia and Canada - who share their working knowledge with the very specific aim of boosting efficiency and collaborative working for their sector.
Rob Whiteman, Managing Director of the IDeA, explains:
"The public sector is under pressure to deliver better services for less money, and the Efficiency Exchange is a tool that will help achieve that aim. Not only can the Exchange help you figure out if you're getting good value for money when dealing with suppliers, but you've got a raft of experts, best practice and suggestions for improvements at your fingertips."
Even if you contribute one sentence to an online conversation, adds Efficiency Exchange Programme Manager Gordon Murray, that information could be what someone else needs to solve a problem. Murray says:
"There's something you can get out of it and something you can contribute. It's no longer about an individual in a local authority thinking ‘if I do this, will it work?' but about someone else joining in saying ‘I've done almost that and here's what I learned'. It's a creative lab where people can prove what's worked or put forward ideas and test them."
The Exchange uses the principles of the IDeA's Communities of Practice, but goes a step further. Like other networking sites, it offers Facebook-style contact with hundreds of public sector experts, who can exchange information. And the exchange acts as a library of innovative work.
However, what will set it apart is a planned benchmarking standard, allowing users to compare costs and performance on a whole range of services both regionally and nationally, which will be available from September. It also casts its net more widely to refer to the most interesting work from the private sector and involves online conversations from other interested parties, such as academics. The aim is to share learning, stimulate innovation and support efficiency within local government using web-based technology.
To find out more go and watch a short film about the Efficiency Exchange go to the IDeA website at: http://www.idea.gov.uk/idk/core/page.do?pageId=19230976