Weeknote: 11 June 21

Things picked up momentum this week following a relatively quiet one the last week. My areas of focus this week were succession planning, team check-ins and more x-gov conversations with colleagues from DfE and Defra.  

Highlights

One important update I forgot to mention last week was that I got my first COVID vaccination! Massive shout out to the NHS staff at King George Hospital for running such a smooth operation 💙

Please visit the NHS website if you haven’t already and book your jab.

Another highlight was going on an actual date night in central London after an absolute eternity. The lobster was great and it felt nice to walk around Soho, Covent Garden and Bond St as they start to wind up again. 

Big shout out to Helen Pringle from Digital Support. I was having an absolute nightmare with my laptop this week and it was getting quite stressful. Helen was kind enough to send out a replacement device at short notice 🙏

Succession planning

Over the last 12 months, we’ve been working hard to establish our foundational cloud and data platforms, and build key reusable components. We’ve built specialist multi-disciplinary teams with partners like BJSS, as well as through the contingent market to deliver these projects. 

With these projects now progressing well, I’ve been working with the teams to start looking at life post-delivery. Some of the things we’re thinking about:

  1. Have we achieved our MVP? 
  2. What are future development ideas?  
  3. Do we have a clear and trusted onboarding process?
  4. What support model are we adopting? 
  5. What is the Governance process?
  6. What is the cost of ownership?

Head of Software

I met with Craig, our new interim Head of Software; to give him some insight into the challenges and opportunities that await him when he joins us later this month. Amongst other things, we spoke about supporting people’s development, establishing DevOps and SRE principles, championing initiatives like coding in the open and empowering the software community to modernise our technology services. 

Team check-ins

This week, I met with all our delivery and project teams to see how they were getting on. Recently, we’ve introduced Team Health Checks, as a way to surface patterns across teams and help us focus on areas of concern.

One of the areas I’m most proud about is our gradual transition from a centralised product support team to a service team model. Rob and the team have been doing an incredible job to support our entire estate of systems, but this just wasn’t a sustainable way of working.

Service teams promote local prioritisation and decision making. Shifting the focus away from one-off projects and isolated bug fixes, to a regular discussion between the team and stakeholders to define long-term goals that bring the most value to users.

Conversations

On Monday I met with Mark from Defra and then later in the week, with Katie and Ben from DfE. It was great to hear about how they’ve approached the concept of a front door and portfolio process in their organisations; and how they’re working with stakeholders to embed these processes. Having gone through a similar journey, I was really happy to share some insight and lessons that I’ve learnt. 

One theme that has repeated itself again and again, is despite all the (justified) emphasis and excitement around Agile, Digital Transformation, User Centred Design, etc; at the heart of all this change is still about people. How do you communicate and influence people. How do you bring people on a journey?

Important meetings

Since the start of lockdown, like everyone else, I’ve experienced stress and fatigue due to the overwhelming number of meetings. However, there is one meeting that I look forward to every week…the Delivery Leadership team meeting. 

Hosted by our AD of Delivery, Sarah Slack; we take turns sharing our fist of 5 ratings and talk about how things have gone over the week. It’s unfiltered and raw and a genuine safe space. We hone in on challenges as a team and wholeheartedly trust each other. It never fails to reaffirm the amazing support mechanism around me ❤️

Next week

I’ll be finalising my objectives for the year ahead. I usually struggle with these, partly because I find it difficult to focus on specific items as I’m usually working across many areas over the 12 month period. 

I like the idea of having a golden thread between organisational > departmental > personal objectives. It contextualises the role you’re playing in moving the organisation forward. Let’s see how I get on!

Rumman Amin

Lead Delivery Manager at Homes England