In an era where technology is advancing at an unprecedented pace, the need for Members of Parliament (MPs) to access crucial information and documents while on the go has become increasingly important. This essay delves deeper into the development and use of digital workspaces for Finnish MPs in committees. It provides insights into their structure, content, information flow, and mobile access. Furthermore, it highlights the challenges faced during the development process and identifies the key factors driving digital work reform.
Structure of Committee Workspaces
Developed by the ICT office of the Finnish Parliament, digital workspaces were first introduced in 2015 using the Microsoft SharePoint platform. The primary goal was to facilitate MPs’ work across different committees, hence all workspaces follow a similar structure. The platform contains blue and white boxes that visually categorize the content. Blue boxes represent automatically imported content from back-end systems, while white boxes denote manually saved information. This design choice allows MPs to easily differentiate between the types of content available in the workspaces, improving overall efficiency and user experience.
Content of Digital Workspaces
The content of digital workspaces is meticulously curated to be relevant and useful to MPs. The workspaces encompass a wide array of information to support MPs in their duties. This includes automatically generated pages for committee members and deputies, which offer easy access to essential information. The platform also features manually updated committee officials, links to pertinent content, RSS feeds on key legislative projects, lists of recent committee reports, and information on EU affairs. This ensures that MPs have quick access to necessary documents and updates.
Moreover, the workspaces provide members with up-to-date information on committee activities and events, links to committee officials, and the ability to request access to the workspace for MPs’ assistants or order additional equipment for meetings abroad. This feature further enhances the functionality of the digital workspaces, ensuring that they cater to a broad range of MPs’ needs.
Content Delivery in Workspaces
Three main systems are employed to deliver content to the workspaces efficiently: the committee’s case and document management system, the MPs’ personal and parliamentary information system, and the plenary system. The first system, the committee’s case and document management system, enters data and documents directly into the workspace, ensuring that the content is readily available to MPs.
The other two systems, the MPs’ personal and parliamentary information system and the plenary system, provide information to the intranet, allowing MPs to make digital reservations to speak in plenary sessions and ensuring their speeches are properly documented. While these functions are separate from workspaces, they form an integral part of MPs’ digital services, streamlining their work and enhancing overall productivity.
Mobile Access to Workspaces
Given the importance of mobility in the work of MPs, mobile access to workspaces has been prioritized during the development process. The mobile access procedure is designed to be user-friendly and secure. To access the workspace securely, MPs must first select the F5 Access application on their device, then click on the connect button and wait for a secure channel to be established. Finally, they choose the committee they are a member of, with access only available on parliament-owned devices.
This streamlined process ensures that MPs can easily access the necessary documents and information from their mobile devices without compromising security, thereby improving their efficiency and adaptability to different work environments.
Development Challenges and Key Factors in Digital Work Reform
Developing digital workspaces that cater to the needs of all 17 Finnish parliamentary committees was a significant challenge due to their varying work methods. The first version of the digital workspace was introduced in 2015, with a fully mobile version launched in 2019. However, additional challenges arose with the implementation of EU-level accessibility requirements in 2020 and the Covid-19 pandemic necessitating remote meetings. MPs also expressed a desire for easier document editing and storage in PDF format on their mobile devices, which was considered overly complicated in earlier iterations of the workspace. Another challenge was the naming of documents, which was not always user-friendly and required subsequent improvements to enhance clarity.
Despite these challenges, key factors for successful digital work reform have emerged. MPs require a consistent experience across devices, locations, and time, with mobility, security, and user-friendliness being the primary considerations for creating effective digital services. By focusing on these factors, the ICT office of the Finnish Parliament has been able to develop digital workspaces that cater to the evolving needs of MPs and streamline their work processes.
In conclusion, the development and implementation of digital workspaces for MPs in Finland have brought about significant changes in the way parliamentary work is conducted. These workspaces have allowed MPs to access important information, collaborate with colleagues, and stay up-to-date on committee activities more efficiently than ever before. While the development process has faced several challenges, the Finnish Parliament’s ICT office has successfully identified key factors for digital work reform and adapted the workspaces accordingly. As technology continues to evolve, it is crucial to ensure that the digital workspaces remain adaptive and responsive to the needs of MPs, ultimately enhancing their ability to serve their constituents effectively.
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