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Access and Utilisation of Online Resources within Victorian Community Service Organisations
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Access and Utilisation of Online Resources within Victorian Community Service Organisations

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The purpose of this project was to conduct a survey of the community service sector to gather data which could be analysed to gain an understanding of how Community Service Organisations (CSO) make......

The purpose of this project was to conduct a survey of the community service sector to gather data which could be analysed to gain an understanding of how Community Service Organisations (CSO) make use of online resources, what online resources are used and establish what further resources could be made available that will improve governance, management and leadership across the CSO sector.

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  • 1. Access and Utilisation of Online Resources within Victorian Community Service Organisations
    • A survey for the Office of the Community Sector
    • Report by Infoxchange Australia
    • June 2009
  • 2. Purpose
    • The purpose of this project was to conduct a survey of the community service sector to gather data which could be analysed to gain an understanding of how Community Service Organisations (CSO) make use of online resources, what online resources are used and establish what further resources could be made available that will improve governance, management and leadership across the CSO sector.
    • In Australia there are three levels of Government – Commonwealth, State and Local - each contributing funds and resources to provide services for the welfare and well-being of communities and individuals. These funds are paid to CSO ’ s who then deliver a range of services and activities either under contract to the body that has provided the funding.
    • There is also a significant number of CSO ’ s that operate on a voluntary basis with funds generated from their own fund raising activities.
  • 3. Overview
    • Infoxchange Australia was contracted by the Victorian Office for the Community Sector (Department of Planning and Community Development), to explore the use that Victorian Community Service Organisations made of online resources to carry out their primary business functions.
    • Infoxchange Australia is a leading not for profit social enterprise and has been at the forefront of encouraging the use of ICT to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the community service sector for over 20 years.
    • Over the next five years Australia will undergo a communications revolution due to the delivery of the National Broadband Network. This is not simply about faster e-mail, it is about a revolution in the way business is transacted. The Victorian Community Service Sector needs to be positioned so that it can take advantage of the opportunities that will present.
  • 4. The Survey
    • Infoxchange Australia and the Victorian Office for the Community Sector jointly designed the survey to discover what internet resources are being used by community sector organisations in Victoria to improve the management and the operation of their organisations, and to find out about their general internet capabilities.
    • The survey comprised 27 questions divided into seven sections:
        • Your Details;
        • Your use of the internet for work;
        • Your Organisation ’ s use of the internet;
        • Finding information and services;
        • How your organisation uses online tools;
        • Reporting stats to your funders;
        • Training and the internet.
  • 5. Methodology
    • Infoxchange Australia used an online survey tool to seek information from Victorian Community Service Organisation workers about their usage of the internet. The survey was available online for five weeks.
    • A invitation to participate in the online survey was sent by direct email to Infoxchange ’ s Victorian community sector email list which is drawn in part from the Infoxchange Service Seeker, the most extensive directory of community service organisations in Victoria (www.serviceseeker.com.au). The survey was also publicised in the Infoxchange Infocast which is distributed weekly to over 50,000 email addresses, and on the Infoxchange website. As a reward for participation, respondents were entered for a draw to win an eeePC netbook.
    • Minimal personal details on the respondents were collected and all privacy requirements have been followed. The personal information will be used solely to enable the respondents to receive a summary of the findings of the survey.
    • Only one survey response was permitted per respondent and this was controlled using access controls in the Opinio survey tool. None of the questions were mandatory and questions were deliberately made optional to encourage fuller participation.
  • 6. The Responses
    • There were 281 responses, of which 235 reached the final page of the survey: a completion rate of 83.62% .
    • All responses were used when analysing the data.
    • It was designed to take approximately ten minutes to complete. The average time taken to complete the survey was 9 minutes :
  • 7. Summary of Key Findings
    • While the majority of workers who responded to this survey felt comfortable using computers and internet technologies there was a significant minority who felt uncomfortable with the technology.
    • While there is widespread access to the internet and online productivity tools the community service organisations have not been overly adventurist in adopting the use of these tools in the workplace.
    • Email communications is used by the vast majority of workers but this is primarily focused on communication within their organisation or with colleagues. 
    • Use of internet based applications is very limited and the use of social networking tools or Web 2.0 applications is virtually non existent.
  • 8. Summary of Key Findings
    • Most use internet at work on a daily basis with a majority accessing email at home for work purposes
    • Most common method of reporting statistics to funding bodies are done by email.
    • Almost a quarter experienced technical difficulties reporting to funders.
    • Using a form on a funder ’ s website is the least problematic method.
  • 9. Summary of Key Findings (… )
    • Social Networking Tools like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn are rarely used for work purposes. Blogging is not rated as useful.
    • As a resource, the internet is more often used to find information on funding sources, taxation, governance, and employment issues.
    • Web-based applications are not used for business related activities by the significant majority of organisations.
    • One in five use an email newsletter application.
    • Only a few use online client relationship management applications or online project management tools.
  • 10. Summary of Key Findings (… )
    • Technologies such as instant messaging, podcasts, videocasts, blogs. RSS, VOIP, skype, internet phone, video conference over the internet indicated a low uptake.
    • Top 5 issues that cause problems when using the web were identified to be:
      • Pop-ups
      • Asking for more details (register, pay) to get more info
      • Internet slow (to download pages)
      • Security (sharing personal information)
      • viruses
  • 11. Community sector organisations ’ awareness of online governance and management training resources and services 1
  • 12. How confident do you feel using Computers, Internet and Email?
    • 73% indicated that they have a good functional level of IT literacy
    • However 17% indicated they felt very uncomfortable with these technologies.
    • 59% rated themselves as confident in using the internet and 17% rated themselves as expert.
    • 57% rated themselves as confident in using email and 21% rated themselves as expert.
    1a
  • 13. How confident do you feel using Computers, Internet and Email? 1b
  • 14. Where do you access the Internet from for work purposes?
    • Over 90% use the Internet at work on a daily basis.
    • 3% never use the Internet at their workplace or do so less than once a month.
    • 67% use their home Internet for work purposes at least once a week with 35% using it on a daily basis.
    1c
  • 15. Where do you access the Internet from for work purposes? 1d
  • 16. How do you report statistics to your organisation ’s funding bodies?
    • 70% use electronic means to report to funding bodies either via e-mail, a software package provided by the funder or through a secure online form.
    • 27% indicated that the process was sometimes or always difficult to do.
    • Using an online form on the funders website appears the easiest method.
    1e
  • 17. Online resources and services used, their usefulness and frequency of use 2
  • 18. These tools have helped me be more connected with colleagues, clients or other organisations 2a
  • 19. Email
    • Email is the most used tool, with over 80% finding it very useful in keeping in touch with colleagues, organisations and clients.
    • That figure rises to 100% for the organisations with 10 or fewer employees.
    • 87% rate email newsletters as a useful tool.
    2b
  • 20. Social networking
    • Tools like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn are rarely used in the sector for work purposes.
    • Only 4% of respondents rated Twitter as a useful communication tool.
    • Smaller organisations tend to rate these tools slightly higher than large organisations.
    2c
  • 21. Blogging
    • 24% of respondents read blogs.
    • 11% read blogs at least monthly.
    • Out only 14% say they find blogs useful in staying connected to people in their area of work.
    • Only 6% of people in organisations with more than 100 employees say they find them useful.
    2d
  • 22. Which of these Community websites do you or your staff visit and how often?
    • Below are the four most popular websites in this survey, in order of overall popularity.
    • Website Weekly or monthly Occasional visitor Never visit or don ’ t know
    • Infoxchange 51.03% 32.10% 16.88%
    • Our Community 30.33% 29.92% 39.75%
    • VCOSS 14.58% 35.83% 49.59%
    • Volunteering Victoria 11.52% 34.98% 55.50%
    • Several other websites not on in this list were mentioned by respondents, including those of peak bodies such as VAADA, Arts Victoria, FaHCSIA, ANHLC and AER. Other sites mentioned included resources on immigration, education, employment and welfare.
    • Note that this represents a subset of the community sector ’ s use of websites and not these websites ’ overall popularity or usefulness.
    2e
  • 23. Which of these Government websites do you or your staff visit and how often?
    • Website Weekly or monthly Occasional visitor Never visit or don ’ t know
    • DHS Human Services Directory 31.82% 45.87% 22.31%
    • Vic Health 25.61% 52.03% 22.36%
    • DHS Funded Agency Channel 33.06% 29.34% 37.60%
    • Centrelink 25.84% 35.83% 38.38%
    • Govt tender sites 17.43% 26.56% 56.02%
    • DPCD 18.18% 25.21% 56.61%
    • OCS 6.72% 16.81% 76.47%
    • The OCS website does not appear to be well known amongst the community service organisation staff who responded to this survey.
    2f
  • 24. Where do you usually go to find information? 2g
  • 25. … to the Internet
    • The Internet is the preferred source of information in areas such as tax where there is a well-known, informative website (such as the ATO).
    2h
  • 26. … to print sources
    • The survey results indicated that print publications are not the preferred source of information for any area of work.
    2i
  • 27. … to organisations
    • Organisations are recognised as providing useful information in many areas, especially where advice is required.
    • Information that is both factual and advisory – such as employment, finances and welfare benefits - are served equally well by the websites and the offices of organisations such as Centrelink.
    2j
  • 28. … to personal networks
    • Some tasks, such as recruiting board members, are found primarily through personal contacts.
    • Others, such as finding volunteers, are equally done via personal networks and via websites (such as Volunteering Victoria).
    2k
  • 29. Does your organisation use web-based applications to improve the way it works?
    • Over a third have an Intranet or document management tool.
    • One in four can share an online calendar i.e. Outlook.
    • Almost a quarter can collaborate on documents online.
    • Almost 30% use an online referral system.
    • Fewer than one in five use an email newsletter application.
    • 8% use an online client relationship management application.
    • 6% use an online project management tool.
    2l
  • 30. Does your organisation use web-based applications to improve the way it works? 2m
  • 31. Does your organisation use any of these technologies?
    • Web conferencing (28% have done it) is useful, especially amongst rural organisations
    • Generally a low uptake of internet technologies with an average of 5% mentioning use of any of the following (% used weekly):
      • Instant messaging, 15%
      • Podcasts, videocasts, 4%
      • Blogs, 5%
      • RSS, 3%
      • VOIP, skype, internet phone, 5%
      • Video conference over internet, 5%
    2n
  • 32. In the last couple of years have your staff or board members had training in… 2o
  • 33. Who in the organisation accesses online resources and training and who has responsibility for managing the training? 3
  • 34. How often do you use the internet at work to…
    • 96% read their work email daily.
    • 82% download official reports or research at least monthly.
    • 62% order a product or service at least monthly.
    • Other online activities – such as online police or ABN checks or finding volunteers – are done more occasionally.
    3a
  • 35. Does your organisation provide training? If so, which of the following are true?
    • 80% have employees who deliver training. That rises to 100% for organisations with 100+ employees.
    • 71% of organisations have their own training room. That rises to 86% for larger organisations.
    • 22% are Registered Training Organisations (RTOs). That rises to 35% for larger organisations.
    • 67% have at least one staff member with a Cert IV or above training qualification. Rising to 91% for larger organisations.
    3b
  • 36. Capabilities of the workforce to use online resources and the barriers to their use. 4
  • 37. Do you think your organisation uses the internet effectively?
    • 81% believe that they communicate effectively using the Internet within their organisation.
    • 62% say they use the Internet well to assist in staff training and development.
    • 61% say they uses the Internet well to streamline management processes.
    • 58% say they use the internet effectively to communicate with existing clients.
    • 55% believe that their organisation uses the internet effectively to reach out to new clients.
    • 41% say they use it well to provide services to clients.
    4a
  • 38. Which of the following cause you problems when using the web?
    • Almost a fourth said that advertising and pop-ups are a particular annoyance.
    • A third complained that websites require them to register or pay to access information .
    • Internet is slow.
    • One in ten reports annoyance that their browser often crashes.
    • Access to websites being blocked in the workplace was mentioned by one in ten respondents.
    • Virus or spyware is a major concern with one out of ten worried getting it.
    • One out of ten worry about the security of personal information when using the Internet.
    4b
  • 39. What further resources should be made available online to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the direct service delivery sector? 5
  • 40. In which areas do you need to improve your knowledge of what ’s available on the internet?
    • Funding is the primary information need as 16% have indicated a need to improve knowledge on. Organisations are aware that there is funding information available online, but they need the time and knowledge to find it.
    • There is a demand for governance training with 12% reflecting an increased awareness of management requirements.
    • Organisations require more knowledge of online resources and better understanding of online security rather than more technical skills.
    5a
  • 41. In which areas do you need to improve your knowledge of what ’s on the internet? 5b
  • 42. The Respondents. 6
  • 43. The Respondents More than half of the respondents have offices in the metropolitan area, a quarter have regional offices and one fourth have rural presence. 6a
  • 44. Role in the organisation Most of those who responded are industry practitioners working in Support and Project Officer roles. A significant number are leaders as CEO or deputies. 6b
  • 45. Number of years worked in the sector Majority of the respondents have worked in the sector for ten years or more. 6c
  • 46. Number of years worked for their organisation Almost a third of the respondents have worked for their organisation for ten years or more. 40% worked for less than 3 years, with the rest an average of 7 years. 6d
  • 47. Recommendations. 7
  • 48. Recommendations
    • On Training
    • This research project has identified nearly universal up take of access to computers and internet within the community services sector along with a high percentage of workers feeling comfortable using the technology.
      • It is also interesting to note however that further training in ICT has been identified by a large number of respondents. There is a positive trend in terms of sector development and general interest in ongoing education and training.
      • As a general indication of technology use for the purposes of training, the results are encouraging and provide opportunities for RTOs such as Infoxchange Australia to further expand flexible delivery methods.
    • Looking for funding information, governance training and more knowledge of online resources and better understanding of online security rather than more technical skills are needed to directly address industry issues identified in this report.
    7a
  • 49. Recommendations
    • On Managed Services
    • Common activity and financial reporting templates that are available online would deliver significant benefits both for the CSO and the funding body.
    • Provision of ‘ managed services ’ including both hardware and applications will deliver significant cost and time savings.
    • Shared managed services across the CSO ’ s would also increase the satisfaction of people using the community service sector as CSO ’ s would be able to share information and coordinate service delivery activities more effectively.
    A key benefit of using ICT in the community service sector will be seen in efficiency and effectiveness improvements. 7b
  • 50. Recommendations (…)
    • The idea of ‘joined-up’ government is not new. This was to allow more efficient access into government, irrespective of where you entered the system. What is also important to address from the users of community service organisations perspective is a ‘joined up’ CSO sector. This would see the delivery of true service coordination via electronic systems that have the ability to share data and manage information flow across the sector.
    • This would allow smaller organisations to have equal access the tools and information systems used by larger well resourced organisations. Two things are required to achieve this:
      • A commitment of true partnership and collaboration from within the community service sector to agree to joined up service delivery.
      • There is a need to address the multitude of electronic systems used across the community service sector, which range from large scale proprietary systems to small access database systems built by smaller CSOs with limited resources.
    7c
  • 51. Recommendations
    • On Web 2.0
    • It has been identified that the most common use of the internet has been email communication and that the use of online applications and programs is limited to information services such as service directories. This, coupled with the high understanding and general comfort with the use of technology, and low use of social networking in the sector lead to the opportunity of developing a platform from which to launch the new wave of engagement with the Community Sector Organisations and encourage a collaborative approach to integrating ‘new ways of working together’ through Web 2.0 technologies.
    7d
  • 52. Next Steps. 8
  • 53. Next steps.
    • It is proposed to hold a workshop with key OCS staff and key Infoxchange staff to develop a strategic approach to implementation of the recommendations contained in this report.
    • The workshop will provide a place for the OCS to seek clarification from Infoxchange on all aspects of this study and establish discussion
    8a