Making the most of FOI

The Freedom of Information Act should be seen as an opportunity to overhaul information management practices within Health Trusts.

One of the main criticisms levelled at public sector organisations and Health Trusts in particular, is that rather than viewing the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act as an opportunity to overhaul information management processes and systems, many have done the bare minimum - or not even that - in order to comply.

Such enterprises owe it to themselves to see the many benefits of compliance. With complete products such as Qudos – newly launched in Europe and the Middle East, the advantages quickly become obvious.

Avanquest UK has recently announced its partnership with Australian software developer Qudos to distribute Qudos System 3 in the UK. Qudos System 3 is a brand new product and concept in Compliance and Risk Management software, offering Enterprise users a ‘One Stop Solution’.

The benefits of Qudos include:

-Meets a major part of FOI requirements
-Deployment via your organisation a required with different
document permissions on each
-Populated with your organisation’s publication scheme and documents
-Different staff can be assigned management rights over different document areas
-Additionally, our optional outsourcing service provides consultancy on request.
-Fully supported with on & off site training, telephone help desk.
-Publishing information online will reduce incoming Requests for Information and enables RFI's to be satisfied by directing the applicant towards suitable online documents
-Can power other areas of your organisation such as e-mails and TMS mediums, allowing easy access to and distribution of content
-Including - news archives, press releases and address books
-System designed and supported by team with extensive experience managing data for NHS Trusts.
-Conforms to accessibility guidelines

Qudos provides the infrastructure for operating a compliance management system, of which FOI is only one part. It will help organizations to learn about compliance and risk management, and implement them more effectively and efficiently. It can be used to address a whole range of compliance issues e.g. FOI, ISO 9001 Quality, ISO 14001 Environmental management, OHSAS 18001 Occupational Health & Safety, Apart from food safety, and aspects of many other compliance requirements. It enjoys a modular design – with modules that address – Objectives Planning / Document Control / Audits / Meetings / Personnel Development Planning / Training / Risk Assessment / Issues Management & Action Planning. The product is based on a SQL server database; it is suitable for a single or multi-site use. The document handling module alone is proving extremely popular with Trusts.

It is often initially difficult to persuade organisations of the need for a dedicated compliance system. They see it as something nice to have but just too expensive says. However, following a review of the various systems available on the market and an analysis of the potential benefits and savings, Qudos quickly moves up to the top of the wish-list.

Rob Graham, Product Manager for Qudos said: "Avanquest are proud to launch Qudos in the region. It is already a great success in the Southern Hemisphere and enjoys the attraction of being new to the market while enjoying the safeguard of an excellent track record. It is very competitively priced and its document handling module alone underwrites its value".

In the initial wake of its launch, Qudos is being targeted by a number of Trusts looking for a cost effective and understandable solution. It offers a complete map in modular format and this has many attractions of which only one is FOI.

Until its launch, many authorities were still evolving their response to Central government's late guidance on exemptions and questions over how it will be financed have slowed progress. Qudos offers a truly cost effective alternative and is easy to populate and run. After all, what organizations need is not more technology but solutions.

In the initial months of 2005 we believe that the Act will be put under scrutiny from both sides - those asking for and those providing the information. The 1 January 2005 date did not prove a concrete deadline but as a step towards FOI compliance. This cannot continue much longer. Therefore the launch of Qudos is proving timely for those with the will to graft on top class software but nevertheless require a carefully costed response.

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