Improving a process can be challenging even at the best of times (i.e. working with a single team), but what happens when several different agencies are involved? Multi-agency working brings many advantages when assessing risk, collating information from numerous sources and making evidence-based decisions. However, to ensure multi-agency working is effective, a variety of challenges need to be met, with a careful and balanced approach.
• Purpose – no common understanding or definition of what the process is for (both across and within agencies)
• Process – no end-to-end process, meaning staff have unclear roles and responsibilities
• Expectation – competing priorities placing multiple demands and expectations on the process (e.g. use of different metrics and targets)
• Culture – different cultures, philosophies and management styles across agencies inhibiting the scope and appetite for improvement
• Communication – lack of communication and inconsistent messages, leading to confusion and dis-jointed working (differing professional language and procedures)
• Systems – different IT systems or varying access levels, restricting the ability to share information (conversely, too much access leading to inappropriate information sharing)
• Outcomes – the ‘illusion’ that effective action has been taken, resulting from the approach of different agencies simply passing information on (identifying risk, not managing risk).