Discussions about public sector collaboration usually focus on ways for different departments to work together -- or maybe ways that the government can do a better job of listening to its citizens. Both topics are important, but they’re not the whole story. It’s equally important for the public sector to find ways to efficiently and effectively collaborate with “Third Sector” – charities and social enterprises.

Now, social enterprises and non-profit organisations all have different configurations, so it’s important not to over-generalize. But let’s consider a hypothetical example that illustrates how important it is for these organisations to work together – and how technology can make that process easier.

Let’s say that you work at a local council office. Your council provides lots of services, but there are also a number of third-party organisations that provide other types of aid, such as food assistance. In order to be able to do their job effectively, these organisations need to be able to coordinate with council authorities. In most cases, that coordination probably happens via e-mail. And that’s where the trouble starts.

Those e-mails will need to be managed. They’ll need to be storable, searchable and retrievable, since they’re subject to Freedom of Information requests. The cost of maintaining that infrastructure can add up in a hurry.

But e-mail isn’t your only option. Rather than hosting a bunch of individual messages on your own servers, you could move your collaboration to the cloud, using a service such as Yammer or Dynamics CRM. There you’re not only reducing your IT costs and making it easier to comply with governance requirements, you’re actually increasing flexibility and making it easier to collaborate with these vital organisations. In some case, you could open the discussion up to other departments – or even to individual citizens.

Technology is changing every aspect of public sector life. Cloud tools mean that rather than trying to optimize old processes, you can look for new solutions that actually fit the way people live and work today.

What’s your organisation’s approach to collaboration?