Weeknote w/c 2 March: an exciting development

Bringing Customer Services and HackIT together

On Friday we announced that the HackIT division and the Customer Services division (which includes Benefits & Housing Needs, Customer & Corporate Services, Registrars, and Revenues) will be coming together at the end of April when the current Director of Customer Services, Kay Brown, retires. Kay will be a tough act to follow and under her leadership her services have played a really important part in Hackney’s impressive journey of improvement.

I’m incredibly excited about the potential this offers. At Thursday’s strategy show & tell Matthew talked through the awesome work that we’ve been doing with the Benefits & Housing Needs teams (along with our partners FutureGov and Made Tech) to redesign the way that the Council helps people who are at risk of homelessness. This is a great example of how by working closely together we can make a real difference for our residents.

Matthew will be taking interim responsibility for the Customer & Corporate Services teams along with the Digital & Data teams. The opportunity presented by bringing together the teams whose work is closest to our residents along with the skills that we’ve been growing for using technology, data and digital design skills to meet users’ needs is enormous. I think these changes offer a real opportunity for us to set new standards for local public services and I’m really looking forward to seeing what our teams can achieve together.

Matthew and I are planning to use our strategy show & tell on 2 April to give an update on the preparations we’re making to ensure an effective transition. I’ve also set aside some times for a coffee & chat with anyone who’d like to talk through any questions. Those are:

  • Tues 10 March, 11am – 12pm (4th floor stand up area)
  • Mon 16 March, 9am – 10am (4th floor stand up area)
  • Thurs 26 March, 9am – 10am (4th floor stand up area)
  • Mon 30 March, 1pm – 2pm (4th floor stand up area)

Please pop along with any questions that you’d like to talk through!

Catching up with LOTI’s progress

On Wednesday morning I headed over to London Bridge to be part of the LOTI Advisory Panel. This is the senior group responsible for making sure that LOTI is meeting the boroughs’ aspirations, and includes our Mayor in his role as Digital Champion for London Councils.

We had a very useful discussion. Eddie started by reflecting on the progress that’s been made so far and what LOTI expects to have achieved by the time it reaches its first anniversary in July. Lots of this is ‘behind the scenes’ work, reflecting the deliberate decision to focus on work that will help us to #fixthepumbing. I’m pleased at the head of steam that LOTI is beginning to develop. Progress made already includes:

  • A dramatic increase in the number of digital apprenticeships across the member councils, supported by the excellent ‘How to HackIT’ guide on developing a digital apprenticeship programme that Cate has led on creating
  • A shared approach for information governance and responsible data sharing, which we hope will help us crack one of the biggest challenges for designing services across organisational boundaries
  • Laying foundations that could help us reshape the market for the technology and data products we need, including the City Tools platform and work on collaborative approaches to supplier management
  • Shared data projects designed to help improve services that Londoners rely on

It’s going to be exciting to be part of bringing those to fruition over the next few months!

Eddie (the Director of LOTI) also set the scene for LOTI’s focus as we look ahead to the second year. We talked through opportunities to build on the year one work and take on shared experiments for innovating in the way that services are delivered in a number of areas. There’ll be more work needed to firm up the plans, but it looks like it has the potential to be a great year! If you’re not already following the LOTI weeknotes I strongly recommend that you fix that without delay.

I also…

  • Had a really good catch up with Bertie (ICT manager for the Hackney Learning Trust) where we discussed ways that we could develop our thinking for supporting digital inclusion in Hackney, building on the existing services that we offer to schools in the borough. Bertie’s been talking with the Community Library Service (see weeknotes passim) and looking at ways we can work together to help housebound residents explore opportunities to get online.
  • Caught up with finance colleagues to scope the work we need to do to bring the budgets together as part of joining our team up with the Hackney Learning Trust ICT service.
  • Took part in the Hackney Management Team’s six-monthly GOLD group meeting, where we reflected on the Council’s response to major incidents over the last six months. There were lots of very positive examples of where Hackney’s long-standing commitment to effective emergency planning has helped our residents when incidents like fires and major floods have happened.  We also looked through the preparations for our response to the current COVID-19 concerns (which include very flexible facilities for business continuity as a result of the work we’ve done in the HackIT team to deliver workplace technology that can be accessed easily from any device, anywhere, any time).
  • Joined the very helpful walk through the financial year-end closedown arrangements that Jenny from finance tan, where she set out the key tasks that cost centre managers will need to carry out to make sure that our year-end accounts are accurate.
  • Met with Ian (my boss) and Stuart (from HR) to walk through the ways that the HR dashboards developed by our Data & Insight team can help senior managers make sure that they have a clear picture of people management across their services.
  • Was pleased to finish off Friday with a hint of spring emerging after what felt like a week of endless rain.

Something I’m learning

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to what I will need to learn and do differently as the changes I mentioned above come into place. I’m really excited about the opportunity to learn more about new areas of the Council’s work, and I’m thinking about the ways I will need to change how I work to make sure that I’m supporting the new wider service team effectively. I suspect that there will be lots to share in this section of my weeknote over the coming months.