May 24′ – Just enough planning

Using Mural for planning and collaboration. How I pull together a delivery plan and prioritise tasks. How this can help with strategic planning. Also delivered a del. community session on service assessments.


For the first time in years, now that I’ve left the civil service, I can actually use social media as normal during the pre-election period but I am going to keep talk of work quite vague out of respect for clients and peers in gov.

End of my second month at Softwire, and with each passing week I’m getting the hang of the processes, documents, tools and ways of working. It’s mostly the same things as before but with a slightly different lens.

Just enough planning

For large parts of this month, I’ve been doing some high level planning for upcoming work. Mural has been a useful tool, I just find it easy to use for things like breaking down problems, collaborating with colleagues and creating a roadmap or timeline.

I also find working this way has also helped me write better statements of work and proposals. Using a visual tool to define problem statements, outcomes and outputs, understand dependencies, areas of concern – before moving this over to a formal Word Doc.

When I’m pulling together a delivery plan, I start off by listing the main things we want to achieve. Then break those down into smaller activities, outcomes or outputs (I’m talking 1 or 2 levels, not any granular); and provide an educated guess (based on prev. exp or by speaking to experts) on how long each will take.

It’s important to think about what you need for each step, like people, money, or tools. Show the roadmap to other people who will be accountable or responsible so everyone knows what’s going on and make adjustments as you receive feedback. Keep it simple so people can understand the process and how things will develop over the time period. As you work on the project, update the plan if anything changes.

Impact x feasibility

Another tool that I find useful when trying to determine value and help with prioritisation is by using a simple Impact x Feasibility grid.

An impact and feasibility analysis is a helpful way for figuring out what to work on first. It helps you quickly see which tasks will have the biggest impact, which ones are low hanging fruit and what would be difficult to do or provide minimal impact. This way, you can focus your energy on the things that will make the biggest difference, and make trade off decisions. It’s a great way to make smart choices and get the most out of your time, people and resources.

Planning a series of workshops

The culmination of the planning and analysis mentioned above is to help with strategic planning. Absolutely not taking our eye off delivering what’s immediately in front of us but increasingly focusing more on medium to long-term opportunities for innovation.

One of the ways I’m doing this is by running a series of workshops and deep dives. Options evaluation. Technical feasibility. How can we leverage data and AI?

Talking of workshops, one of the benefits of being new is bringing a fresh pair of eyes and being able to give a relatively unbiased opinion on things. Being a critical friend. This has been quite useful this month where I’ve been a fly on the wall in some brainstorming and prioritisation workshops.

CoP – Service Assessments

Thaís (Lead Service Designer) and I did a community of practice session on service assessments. How it fits with wider programme governance, how to work with the assessment panel, what departmental factors can influence delivery, what support you can get throughout the process. Also covered the bread and butter:

  1. How to prepare
  2. Who is involved
  3. Format of assessment
  4. Structure of the service demo
  5. Common challenges

Happy to share the slides if anyone is interested.

With the increased maturity within departments of the service assessments and spend controls processes, having more dedicated people to lead and coordinate these things and the sheer volume of new services that have been delivered (and continue to be delivered) – the collective knowledge has grown significantly.

Away from work. Went to Croatia at start of the month – Lovely place. Went to Kew Gardens with my gran. Best mate got married. Wedding anniversary – first date night since Leia’s arrival!

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