Photo: Adrienne Bresnahan

Benchmarking your union’s digital journey – TUC digital healthcheck 2020 edition

We’ve just released the latest version of our digital healthcheck tool, with the latest major release (version 3) seeing a significant revision. It has been more than two years since the last version and so these latest changes have been needed to reflect the fast-moving world of technology.

For those who have never used this tool before, our digital healthcheck allows unions to benchmark their digital and technical maturity. It is an interactive Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, providing ‘best match’ choices across a broad range of categories. Alongside the use of technology, it also helps to measure the organisational and cultural changes needed in a union to maximise the benefits of new technology.

There are no right or wrong answers as such. Its key purpose is to help benchmark against potential best practice.

Why benchmarking?

As experience of what leads to successful outcomes grows, best practice benchmarking allows a union to understand where they are, measure their progress and identify strengths and weaknesses. We have made this tool to help illustrate what these digital and technical best practices look like in a union setting, reflecting the challenges and innovations in both the movement and the wider world.

For example, over the last few years, many unions have been adopting a more flexible approach to their IT infrastructure, utilising Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) technologies and cloud environments to increase resilience, reduce costs and increase productivity through new ways of working.

During the Covid-19 lockdown, those unions who have gone further in adopting these steps have also benefited from a much easier transition to remote working than those still relying on a legacy infrastructure: needing access to hardware that’s situated in closed offices and limited by bottlenecks in remote network connections.

Similarly, unions that are adopting the best digital cultural practices have been improving experiences for their members such as online joining processes, making it easier to join and reducing recruitment costs. It is not so much the technology that has changed here, but the culture of working that allows unions to better meet the expectations of members.

Unions differ hugely, and this is not an attempt to make one size fit all. Rather it is designed to help leadership make the best choices when viewed alongside their own union’s context, resources and strategy. Gaps identified don’t need to filled at a uniform rate, but instead can give you a better awareness of the potential opportunities in choosing different paths.

Benchmarking also allows managers across the union a common framework to discuss developments in digital and IT, understanding better why a focus is being placed on particular projects and how they fit into the whole.

As your union progresses along your digital journey, you should revisit the benchmark from time to time. It helps you evaluate the impact of work done and it may be that another area becomes more important to focus on as your organisational priorities change.

How to use the healthcheck

You can download the latest version of the digital healthcheck here. You’ll receive a zip file containing the interactive Excel sheet as well as a document with instructions and glossary.

The categories for this new revision of the digital healthcheck have been revised and expanded. The measurements are now spread across seven categories: Strategic Approach, Digital in the organisation, Membership, Communications, Web Presence, Data and IT and Systems. However we’ve tried to keep the results broadly in line with the previous version, for unions that want to see progress from previous benchmarks.

It takes about 20 minutes to complete and ideally requires senior and specialist input from across the organisation. We’d suggest using it as an exercise for your union’s senior management team.

The results are entirely owned by your union – the data is not shared by default. However, unions that do choose to share their results with the TUC are very welcome. This helps us build up a better understanding of where unions are and allows us to tailor our Digital labs resources and workshops around the needs of affiliates.

Download the new edition of the TUC digital healthcheck now.