Hackney Digital Support Services: Weeknote, W/C 07.09.2019

Hello and welcome to the Digital Support Services weeknote.

This week I am going in to full divergence. The overarching Digital Support Services suite of works has cascaded down in to distinct arms of works, which in turn have trickled down in to bitesized projects, which in turn will feed up and cascade in domino like fashion to deliver a transformation to our digital support services.

We have two project nuggets that we have been preparing to undertake, one of which is rather excitingly a HackIT experiment where we have asked a number of ‘what if’ questions about the way that we work.

The two projects are “Joining up people data” and “Improving our forms”.

Joining up people data is going in to alpha and it’s the experiment. It’s exciting for me as the Delivery Manager, as it’s both my first Alpha that I am delivering for HackIT and it’s also a first agile project for the product owner.

This week on joining people data, we have been “pulling back the bow”. Both the product owner and I have been learing and understanding how the project has reached its current position and we’ve been planning how we’ll take it forwards. We’re keen to keep hold of the vision and intention of the discovery and stakeholders and at the same time, taking from that discovery and applying it to alpha.

We’ve done this by combing through all of the documentation that has been captured, looking really carefully at the minimum viable products that presented themselves after the discovery and talking about these with the people that envisaged them. We’ve also been reaching out to those who were involved in earlier parts of the project to make sure we’re properly understanding what was found.

In terms of the alpha itself, it’s a little unusual, as we are trialling and testing an assumption presented in the form of a minimum viable product that emerged from the post discovery workshops and discussions. So in some ways, it’s a mini project within a project, within a project (crickey, this is starting to sound like the movie “Inception”).

However, being part of the experiment, we have a strong opportunity to really make good use of the resourcing levels proposed and also to maximise our concept of ‘sprint zero’, which is the concept of a structured lead in to enhance the velocity of the project overall.

To achieve this, Lisa (the Product Owner) and I have been refining the kick off for next Tuesday and thinking really carefully of what we are going to try to achieve in each sprint of the project. Whilst agile by nature is flexible and adaptable, we’re thinking along the lines of a week long sprint zero lead in and then three fortnightly sprints with a specific goal for each.

At the same time, Lisa has been working super hard to understand the nuances of agile and get a solid feel for her role as Product Owner. Agile can be a peculiar animal to understand at first, because by it’s very nature it’s malleable and adaptable and it can be tricky to understand when some rules apply and when others don’t and why. As Jeff Sutherland (inventor of Scrum) described , Scrum is easy to grasp, but difficult to master!

But… with all that in mind – we kick off on Tuesday. We’re up for it, we have a healthy sense of nervousness out of respect for the project and we’re excited to do this thing!!

The other project that that’s kicking off next week is “Improving Our Forms”.

Here also, we have been doing lots of prep for this in understanding all of the work that has happened before us. In fact, I traced conversations dating back to June 2017 on this one, so to say that this has been explored for a while is an understatement.

For Improving Our Forms, we are stepping in to a rapid discovery phase to properly test a hypothesis that has been bubbling under the surface of this conversation.

The hypothesis is that: There is a tool available that can help us to improve 70% – 80% of our current forms.

Our goal is to get to a place where we have an adequate understanding of the digital services that we need to build, so we can then make a decision on what we will use to build them.

There’s a lot of appetite for shifting this forwards and to determine a number of debated points, so going in hyperdrive, we are condensing this down in to a two week discovery. A discovery of two parts… sprint one (1 week), insight and discovery, sprint 2 (1 week), investigation and recommendation.

Paul, the product owner is super clear about the vision and outcomes and so I’m really excited about working with him to really drive this forward rapidly. That said, we’re both keen to get the right outcome and to derive real value for the business, so we are thinking about great ways to maintain high levels of guidance and governance as we shift forward with pace.

So there we have it… one week… two kickoff’s.

It’s going to be fast (although hopefully more humorous than furious!), it’s going to be intense, but hey, it’s agile – I’d expect nothing less.

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