Embedding essential digital skills support into an organisation

There are seven key factors which contribute to successfully embedding Essential Digital Skills support into an organisation.

These are shown in our “embeddedness circle”.

Embeddedness circle = Strategy + Communication + Community Relationships + Training & support + Pre-existing transactions + Assessment and referral + Monitoring and measuring.

Let’s look at each of the factors in the embeddedness circle in more detail:

Strategy = Digital inclusion is factored in to all strategic planning at board and senior management level.
Conduct a strategic review to identify all areas where digital access or digital skills can have impact + Consider internal and client-facing areas + Develop plan to minimise adverse impacts and amplify positive impacts.

Communication = All staff and volunteers know what digital inclusion is and understand its relevance for service users and their wellbeing.
Regular communications about digital inclusion + Celebrate success stories.

Community relationships = Understand the digital support needs of the local population + Be aware of existing local digital support services + Plan digital support in partnership with other agencies.
Establish a baseline using existing national data and researching local needs + Map local agencies and local needs + Network with local agencies + Joint funding applications.

Training and support = Everyone can identify digitally excluded service users + Everyone understands the relevance of Essential Digital Skills + Everyone can signpost and refer service-users appropriately + Clients are offered dedicated digital support + Digital Champions understand where digital skills support fits into the organisation's overall aims and services.
Provide digital inclusion awareness training for everyone, including inductions for new staff + Create an open learning culture and peer-to-peer support for digital skills + Provide guidance on signposting to digital support + Provide Digital Champion training for relevant staff/volunteers + Provide ongoing support and training for Digital Champions + Ensure Digital Champion training includes safeguarding, mental health awareness, health and safety, and online safety.

Use existing interactions = Client service includes digital support.
Include digital support in service planning + Include digital support tasks in job descriptions + Include digital support in KPIs + Encourage on-the-spot, spontaneous digital nudges by client service staff.

Assessment and referral = New clientsโ€™ digital support needs identified + Digital Champions signpost clients to additional digital support.
Review client assessment procedures to include digital support needs + Review client contact procedures to ensure digital support provided + Provide guidance for Digital Champions on suitable signposting for clients.

Monitoring and Measuring = Digital skills support activities are recorded + Outcomes of digital skills support are tracked.
Add digital skills support into existing reporting systems + Record baseline skills + Evaluate impact in follow-up or client self-reporting + Use 'snapshot' sampling to reduce administrative burden.

This model of seven key factors of Embeddedness was identified during independent Case Study research. This was conducted with four thriving One Digital projects who each told us about their success:

The Key to Success - Designing a project to meet the identified needs of the client cohort and our demographic; Digital Engagement relies heavily on other factors, therefore a holistic approach is needed to overcome the barriers; Ensuring the whole organisation understands the reasons, importance and scope of the project; Providing Digital Champion training to all client facing staff to ensure the knowledge and service is embedded long-term within the team; Effective support for volunteers; Working towards sustainability, from both an organisational and client point of view.
Lasting legacy = Further funding from RBS Skills and opportunities which aims to build financial resilience through digital tools; We continue to train, develop and include digital skill inclusion as part of our service provision to staff and volunteers; Embedded digital process as an organisation with HR online tool Breathe HR; Allowed us to invest in service delivery with multi -channel advice provision; Created a digital culture within the organization; Our digital participation continues to reduce social isolation and increase economic prospects; Peer to peer learning continues an ethos of empowerment for staff and volunteers.
Top Takeaways = Buy-in from the top; Blended approach โ€“ introduction of volunteer DCs as well as embedded DCs; Staff & volunteers with high level of digital skills help build capability of other staff; Baseline analysis and mapping encourages optimal use of local resources; Devices and WiFi access overcome connectivity and tech barriers.
Learning = Useful to have a volunteer service already in place in organisation; Digital embedded with existing Employment Service; Digital Champion role can boost CVs for jobseekers; Light touch screening tool, very helpful; Group skills training sessions, very useful; Combining group with 1-to-1 support; Digital Champions with previous language teaching experience add more value.

Further reading

The full Case Study research, conducted by Sara Dunn Associates, includes in-depth case studies with each of these four One Digital projects. The research also details solutions and resources should barriers arise achieving these seven key factors of Embeddedness.

Following publication of the Case Study research we invited the four projects to present their project learning at an event where delegates discussed the case studies and how to apply them to their own organisations. The presentations from the event include extra detail and information.

We have also published informal case studies on embedded Digital Champions