Weeknotes w/c 23 July 2018

Now that we are close to completing the initial G Suite migration (with over 3,000 people moved over and just a couple of hundred of people left to do) we’re pushing ahead with the work on information and document management, and at the start of the week Anita, Sarah, Tom and I went through the analysis of audit tool requirements. This will be an important part of helping us to move our information management approach from the current model which is based on having highly structured file management that is standardised across the Council towards an approach which allows services to tailor their arrangements to better fit their needs and equips our team with tools that will help them guide and support services in managing their information effectively.

And on Friday Anita and I met with Sonia, the Council’s Head of Policy and Partnerships, to look at ways that her team can take advantage of the G Suite tools for their work. This was a very encouraging discussion and there are lots of ways that having access to more flexible technology will make it easier for them to share ideas and develop strategic plans together with partners. It was great to hear how much progress Sonia’s teams have already made and we identified some useful areas that they can explore next.

As Cate and Matthew were both off last week Henry had to put up with more of my chit chat than normal. We had a useful catch up to go through the recent feedback from the Mayor and Councillor Nicholson on the connectivity strategy that we’re developing and we also looked through some of the other areas of work that the Platform teams are prioritising.

Lucy and I caught up with Sarah, director of children and families, on Monday and checked in on our work together with her services. This was a positive discussion and Lucy also gave me a quick walk through the Discovery exercise that’s been taking place to look at how data might help with contextual safeguarding. I was particularly interested to hear how this is helping the teams involved think through the sorts of questions that data can help answer – I’ve often found that reports and data can accumulate over time and the purpose for producing all the data gets lost, so it’s good to see that this work is starting out by considering user needs.

As we’ve committed to support the Local Digital Declaration I was interested to join the Slack chat that Rishi Sunak, the Minister responsible, held on Tuesday. I thought that it was positive to have direct discussion between a Minister and the practitioners whose work will be impacted by an initiative that they’re promoting and highlights from the discussion were captured in this blog from the MHCLG team: https://mhclgdigital.blog.gov.uk/2018/07/24/using-slack-to-askrishi/. I asked whether this would become a regular thing and the response to that was positive.

Now that the school holidays are upon us there’s a bit more juggling to be done with childcare. That took a fun form on Wednesday with a day off and a trip to the theatre.

Back at work, Thursday included the Finance & Corporate Resources Directorate Management Team, where we discussed workforce planning across the directorate and wider Council (with particular focus on how we can plan recruitment effectively and market the excellent opportunities that Hackney offers), and also the Corporate Resilience Forum, where we were pleased to see that the work to update BCP plans across the Council is pretty much complete and test exercises are well under way.

Friday brought with it an interesting conversation with Mark Gannon at Sheffield City Council. Mark’s currently bringing their IT back in house from an outsourced service (which reminded me how fortunate we are that Hackney has already done this some time ago) and is also looking at how the Council can help lead wider digital change across the City. It sounded like there might be some useful opportunities to share ideas and learn from each others’ experience so we’ll be following that up.

Later on Friday I caught up with the work on our device refresh, which should see kit for our user research arriving soon as well as an initial batch of Hangouts Meet equipment which we can use to test out the benefits of extending video meeting capabilities across the Council. We’re going to start with our floor, some other locations in the HSC and Town Hall and also some of our remote sites where we expect to find opportunities to help teams based at those sites save time and be more closely connected with colleagues in the core campus.

My team intros this week were brought by the letter L. On Monday I caught up with Lindsay (who’s joined Hackney as our Infrastructure Manager) and on Friday I finished up my week with a chat with Liz (who’s moved to ICT from the Strategy, Policy & Economic Development division to be our Data & Insight Manager). It was interesting to get their thoughts on how we’re developing as a service, in particular how we connect up across teams, and I was pleased to hear that they’ve both had a positive experience so far.

Something I’ve learned

Liz and I also discussed the use of tools like Twitter as part of working in the open. I’ll confess to having initially been sceptical about the value of social media and it took a lot of persuasion (and coercion…!) from my boss to get me to sign up to Twitter back in 2009. But I’m pleased that I did and I’ve made lots of really valuable connections through Twitter since I joined. (I have, however, ditched Facebook – mostly because I find it annoying, but they do also seem to have stretched the ‘creepy’ boundary a bit too far in my view…)