Weeknotes #13

Week commencing 30th September 2019.

This week was unusual, I feel empty and unproductive but I know I’ve learned a lot. This will probably be quite a ridiculous list of fragmented things but at the minute, it’s a sign of the times. Those that know the ins and outs of what’s going on at the minute will probably have a different take on reading this but that’s okay too, this is the week that was…

I started the week in our Milton Keynes office finishing up a proposal for Peterborough City Council. They’re looking into reusing some software we’ve built for delivering the Blue Badge service. Three councils use it already and it’d be great to have a fourth. Hopefully the proposal meets their needs, plus, turns out that a good way to start the week is to finish something.

Catching up with Steve was next on the agenda. One of our partners is Cambridgeshire County Council and we have some staff based in their office, by the end of 2020, Cambridgeshire will have moved out of their office completely. Steve and I talked about the impact of the Cambridgeshire office move, how it affects our team, what we can do to help and how we might adjust the way we work to actually create opportunities from the move.

Travelling home from Milton Keynes was a chance to catch up with Kiri, hearing more about things I forgotten to do and gentle (but very real) reminders on how we can be better at supporting the team to be better versions of themselves.

Tuesday saw our most recent project go live. It’s a mobile app that’s being used at recycling centres to check if vehicles have a valid permit to dump their rubbish. Take a photo of the vehicle, the app then grabs the registration number from the image and checks if there’s a permit for that reg number. Really simple but actual some crazy business logic in the background. The team have done so much work to get this ready on time and we’re really, really proud of everyone involved. Thank you all.

I also took some personal time out to go to a ‘Meet the Matron’ session with Vikki. Our second baby is due at the end of this year and we didn’t have the best time of it first time round so a few people have suggested that this could help reduce the anxiety. The session was really interesting, we went through the notes from our first son’s birth from start to finish and there were several things that both me and Vikki had forgotten even happened. It’s funny what trauma does to your memory. For some people, these sessions aren’t helpful and I’ve heard in some cases they can actually make any anxiety you feel worse, thankfully for us, it helped a little.

Also, if you’re the partner of someone considering going to a session like this, you should go too. Even if it’s just to support your partner. Personally I was completely broken for months after my son was born and reliving the birth through medical notes was always going to be hard but we are parents together, we need each other and lean on each other, no matter what. So yeah, go, but do it together.

After some time to clear my head a little, I dad a Donut call with Satnam Bharj, IT Service Manager at Manchester City Council. The sessions have been great to meet new people across the public sector that I wouldn’t normally cross paths with. Satnam told me stories about what he’s working on and we talked about how important leadership is to the direction of a whole organisation, what ‘digital’ can mean and how team structures are all kinds of chaos.

I also took part in a user research session with Linda at MHCLG this week. It was about collaboration across public sector. Linda and her team were on the look out for people to answer some questions on the kinds of collaboration that happens in the public sector. I’ve shared some things in the past so it was a great opportunity to contribute my experiences to the research. It was weird to be on the other end of user research, I kept over thinking things and went on a massive rant at one point. Hopefully some of it was useful but either way, I’m grateful that people like Linda are there doing the hard work to listen to the sector as whole.

A screenshot of the dashboard showing some statistics for service availability, lead time and cost per phase

We did some more dashboard1 work too this week. Anthony in our team created a project closure form to wrap things up at the end of projects cleanly. We’re now on to using data from our timesheet system Harvest to publish information on each of our projects budgets to the public dashboard

BSIL project

Later in the week I headed over to Cambridgeshire County Council as I’d not been to the office there in a couple of weeks and it’s great to see the faces over there. I had a review meeting with our apprenticeships provider to support our two level 3 apprentices, an impromtu catch up with our Chief Architect and managed to hear all about the progress the Cambridgeshire region are making with their integrated health and care record. Thanks to Abdul who introduced me to some data standards that are being developed to support that work.

I also spent some time with DevOps Engineer, James, who is fixing all the things but mostly fixing issues raised from a PEN test which is always nice (not). The daft thing being, the issues he’s fixing there’s no process in place to monitor once the solution goes live. I’m not saying that is in itself an okay thing, more that insisting something is fixed before it’s allowed to go into Production when there’s no process in place to check if it breaks later down the line seems a bit of a waste of everyone’s time. It’s also more than a little daft (i.e irresponsible).

💡 As an aside, we should be checking for compliance throughout any service’s lifetime but it’s an interesting thought to consider how many processes are put in place for compliance at a given point in time when continuous monitoring is probably (undoubtedly) a safer method. I’ve made a note to write more about this, that may or may not actually happen.

Finally I finished up the week with a post about my initial experience with AWS DeepLens and checking in on a few friends and reading a few of the posts I’d saved from other people, the best of which was from Sam about her Wellbeing Wall. I particularly like the frequency of the word ‘impact.’ Sam talks about impact a lot through the post and that resonated with me, I always aim to have impact. Thank you for sharing Sam. I think I’m going to experiment with a similar wellbeing wall, see if it helps my brain to be less noisy, or at least, embrace make sense of the noise.

What I’m thinking about

I am pleased

Recommendations

Footnotes

  1. I wrote about our performance metrics in Weeknotes #4 and our Dashboard in Weeknotes #12