Fuelling digital collaboration in the Scottish Space Industry

Providing a major project solution to prove the sky’s not the limit

Breaking new ground in the Scottish Space Industry

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) – the agency responsible for economic and community development in northern Scotland – is breaking new ground in the Scottish space industry with the launch of their Space Hub Sutherland project.

The project aims to deliver a vertical launch spaceport on Scotland’s North Coast, with the first satellite launches from Sutherland expected in the early 2020s. Over time, the number of launches is expected to grow to up to 12 per year and generate social and economic benefits to the region, including 61 highly skilled jobs in Caithness and Sutherland, as part of 250 new jobs in total and positioning the area as the hub of a significant new space sector

An expansive network of sector stakeholders

Space Hub Sutherland requires collaboration across an expansive network of stakeholders in both the public and private sectors. Key external project partners include the Scottish Government, the UK Government – including the UK Space Agency – the Highland Council, and specialists in fields as diverse as design, project management, economic impact and environmental protection.

A critical component to the success of HIE’s Space Hub Sutherland project is secure collaboration across these project stakeholders to ensure informed decision making and efficient working to meet deadlines – all while maintaining control and traceability over all interactions at any given time.

A collaboration crisis averted

Faced with email as the only option to coordinate document revisions across all external stakeholders drove HIE to seek a fit-for-purpose alternative for the project.

“Before Objective Connect, everyone would be downloading information locally, doing all the mark-ups and then re-uploading other markups and then would have to download, combine, and figure it all out it,” notes Michelle Sutherland, Space Hub Sutherland Project Co-ordinator at HIE. “I introduced Objective Connect to the team as a way of taking this project forward. It gives us the security and reliability that we needed for the project.”

“One of the key features we’ve really embraced in Objective Connect is Secure Online Edit. It’s allowed us to work collaboratively across many external agencies and organisations on the same documents at the same time.”


Space Hub Sutherland Project Co-ordinator, HIE

Secure external collaboration shouldn’t be rocket science

Given the range of external stakeholders, it was crucial for Objective Connect to be easy to use and to have the proper information governance controls in place.

“When we first started using Objective Connect, our external team hadn’t heard of it before. They like the fact that it’s intuitive, simple, and elegant. They especially love the mobile app, as it allows them to access project information on the go,” says Michelle.

For many government agencies or authorities, like HIE, information is their most valuable asset. When they need to share information externally for a major project, there is also a requirement to uphold a level of control and visibility over the exchange.

Part of that control includes the ability to trace actions and provide evidence of who had access to that information and the actions taken. “Objective Connect has allowed us to fill in the gaps in audit trails such as when things have been signed off, who had signed them off, when, and how decisions were made,” says David Howie, Space Hub Sutherland Project Manager.

Objective Connect provides HIE with a clear audit trial that addresses questions such as:

  • Who was involved in this conversation?
  • How were these decisions reached?
  • Why did we come to a particular conclusion?

“My favourite Objective Connect feature is the Workspace Record. [In just a few clicks] it basically shows us what documents have been uploaded, what time they’ve been uploaded, who’s been in the workspace at the same time and who has been able to view or download those documents at any given time.”


Space Hub Sutherland Project Co-ordinator, HIE

The impact of a fit-for-purpose solution

The benefits of a using a specialist solution go beyond auditability – streamlining collaboration on project documents across multiple stakeholders was equally important to HIE.

“The part of the project where we first understood how important Objective Connect was going to be was the provision and creation of the application for planning permission. An individual document could have had 10 organisations contributing towards the creation of that document; this is where maintaining version control was critical,” says David.

“We also needed to understand who said what, what we’ve responded to, the comments made by individuals and so on. It’s impossible to do that any other way than a system like Objective Connect.”

A changing landscape for major projects

"The complexity, sensitivity and time-critical nature of the Space Hub Sutherland partnership project presented a real-life test for Objective Connect, which it passed with flying colours. There’s now crossover between UK Government – including the UK Space Agency, the Treasury, Scottish Government and local councils. Objective Connect is the correct way to govern and control projects across that group of stakeholders,” remarks David.

Regardless of project type, one thing is for certain – the importance of implementing a fit-for-purpose solution that balances usability and accountability when collaborating on major projects.

“Ultimately, it’s all about the information management and governance in making sure we have a single version of the truth and got a record of how these decisions have been made or reached,” Michelle concludes.

Watch HIE’s video case study for the complete story.

Objective Connect is a secure external file collaboration solution that is designed for government and regulated industries that need to maintain control over information when sharing it externally.

To learn more or see the Objective Connect features mentioned in action, click here.