Dorset County Council first signed on for our Digital Champions Programme in 2017 – when virtual meetings and Microsoft teams were in place. During monthly meetings, the champions would focus on the implementation of new Microsoft tools, and finding innovative ways to work.
Following its transition into a unitary authority in April 2019, Dorset Council integrated its districts into a unified entity. Simultaneously, the user adoption team underwent a restructure, resulting in a reduction from five members to two. Delia Carr, the User Adoption Lead for Dorset Council, highlighted the challenge of providing continued support to the existing digital champions with a smaller team while seeking ways to extend the program to include district teams.
During the expansion of its Digital Workplace Champion program and the aim to streamline resource management, Dorset Council discovered 365Tribe as a solution. One of Dorset’s key priorities was to establish a program that rewarded champions, and 365Tribe offered this capability while collaborating with the council’s user adoption team.
Through the partnership with 365Tribe, champions receive badges as incentives and have demonstrated genuine enthusiasm for assisting their colleagues beyond their own personal development. As a Microsoft partner, 365Tribe provides Dorset Council and its champions with access to greater expertise through monthly webinars and engagement in the program’s MS Teams channels.
To accommodate the varying levels of knowledge and interest among champions, Dorset Council developed three distinct levels of workplace champions:
- Super Champions: These individuals receive training on power platforms such as Power BI and automation, enabling them to explore and enhance work processes.
- Workplace Digital Champions: Aligned with the main 365Tribe program, these champions cover a range of standard Microsoft applications utilised by the local authority.
- Digital Friends: Focusing on a select set of applications, these champions prioritise tasks such as collaborating and communicating with colleagues, specifically in MS Teams, OneNote, Word, and Delve.
Although the program mainly focuses on Microsoft 365, other colleagues from Dorset Council are invited to deliver additional learning sessions. For instance, a session on LinkedIn was conducted to encourage champions to expand their networking beyond the council. The training provided to champions encompasses not only technical skills but also softer skills and the concepts of digital transformation and change.
On another front, the IT team manages cybersecurity training within the council using Boxphish. Through a monthly email containing a video and related questions sent to the entire organisation, the IT team can monitor individuals’ understanding of cybersecurity.
Since implementing a structured learning program in collaboration with 365Tribe, Dorset Council has seen significant growth in its Digital Workplace Champions, now totaling 230 members. One notable feature of the program is the “ask the expert” channel, where champions primarily support each other, although both Dorset’s user adoption team and the 365Tribe team provide assistance. The channel also serves as a valuable source of insights and trends that inform future learning initiatives and webinars.
Periodic skills surveys indicate that champions, on average, have increased their Microsoft 365 skills by 18%. Additionally, a survey of 30 individuals revealed that implementing changes based on the learning provided by the digital champion program resulted in a £120k cost saving, as reported in feedback.
The impact of being a digital workplace champion extends beyond earning Enhanced Digital Skills (EDS) certification. Delia Carr, from Dorset Council, explains, “Being a digital workplace champion really adds value for the individual, and we’ve seen it help people get promoted within Dorset Council. For example, someone who started out as a digital champion is now part of our team as a user adoption officer.” She further highlights that workplace digital champions exhibit greater confidence, adopt an experimental mindset, and work more openly, all of which, combined with their enhanced digital and interpersonal skills, enable them to secure new roles within the organisation.