Weeknote w/c 25 February: talking with suppliers about better ways to sell

A slight improvement in the timeliness of my weeknotes, but not much!

Selling to councils – a Croydon Digital Service event

On Tuesday last week I went south to the borderlands of London and Surrey to take part in an event that our colleagues in the Croydon Digital Service had arranged for their local digital businesses, sharing advice on selling to local government. It was very well attended and it was fun to be part of a panel with a wealth of experience of selling and buying digital services in local government and sharing some of my thoughts on this. Dave Briggs has done a write up of the event on Croydon’s blog (https://croydon.digital/2019/03/01/helping-our-digital-business-community-sell-to-the-public-sector/) and I focused my part of the talks on:

Demonstrating agility as well as being Agile

Sometimes in our line of work carefully crafted plans have to be set aside so that we can respond to urgent priorities which take us by surprise. An example of that last week was the need to make a switch over for the Council’s payment system, which we knew was in the offing but hadn’t expected to be needed as quickly as has been the case. I’ve been really impressed by the way that everyone involved has responded to this. We’ll need to check in so that we’re clear about which other important work has been delayed as a result, but the focused, professional and swift response from across the team has been fantastic and it looks like we’ve got everything on track. Thank you to everyone who’s been part of getting this done.

Other highlights from my week were:

  • Chairing the meeting of the Council’s Apprenticeship Steering Group. Hackney is showing real leadership in promoting apprenticeships within the Council and more widely across the borough, and it was particularly good to hear about the successes that apprentices are having after they complete their apprenticeships.
  • Further conversations about developing ‘How to HackIT’ guides for our technical and coding standards. We’ve got a workshop next week to go through the approach and agree our next areas to focus on, so these were about making sure that we’re well prepared for that.
  • I was part of the initial test group for having the SIM in my iPad swapped out. The team have done great work preparing for this and it was a really easy experience, which gives me confidence that everything will run smoothly when other users come in to have their SIMs swapped over the coming weeks.
  • I was pleased to hear about the progress with our ‘Web first’ redesign of our network, which will provide our users with faster and more reliable access to our systems. I did think that Chidi was a little bold in laying down the gauntlet to Cate for a Post-it challenge though…!
  • I had a catch up with the Mayor to give him an overview of the work we’re involved in across the Council’s services. I ran through these slides which cover a range of headlines and delve into a bit more detail for some of the projects we’re working on: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/119oLTBsBQFl8NeJHVZbia2v8Ep6xq2SAvnyW5YpMDjY.
  • And I wrapped up my week with a detailed look through the guidance that our information management team have been developing for use of G Suite to organise and share information. ‘Test the service from beginning to end with appropriate council member or senior manager responsible for it.’ is an important principle in the Service Standard we are committed to following (https://localgov.digital/service-standard) and I found this a very helpful way to make sure I have a good understanding of the details.

Something I’m learning

When you have a team as good as ours it’s sometimes easy to feel a little bit superfluous, with the best thing you can do being to make sure that you don’t get in people’s way! There were a couple of instances last week where I felt I was able to be helpful in navigating through some tricky dynamics which were looking like they might slow work down. Time will tell whether or not my suggestions actually were helpful, but it was a good reminder of what I enjoy about my job.