We have now had a few weeks to work on the initial stages of delivery and this was our opportunity to present progress to Services and for everyone present to provide feedback on the work completed, ask questions, and engage with the teams.
This was also an opportunity to launch the Digital by Design Corporate and Support Services (CSS) workstream which will digitally enable the transformation goals within CSS. We hope that its alignment with the wider Digital by Design programme will ensure interdependencies between support services and front-line services are fully understood and we maximise the benefits of digital change across the council. Over the coming months this workstream will undertake a similar phased approach to developing its programme work starting with a period of discovery to identify detailed scope and approach.
This showcase was a great opportunity to celebrate and thank those involved in inception for their dedication and hard work. As I often say, the end product of this programme will be the sum of all our collective hard work, and judging by the effort and commitment over the past month I’m really excited about what we can collectively achieve. But there is a lot to do! During inception the complexity and volume of user needs uncovered truly reflected the breadth of what councils do to support and serve citizens. Whilst everything could be delivered over time, the initial scope for delivery has had to be ruthlessly prioritised jointly by the businesses and programme team. An in depth look at detailed features was required to work out we need to do first based on which elements are going to show the best return on the investment and which will add the most value.
Excitingly moving into delivery means that the teams have started building products to address these priorities. The first iterations of these solutions are intended to be the simplest way of addressing user needs. The idea is that by developing in this way we can deliver value to the business early and create a base onto which additional features and functionality can be added further down the line.
To use Agile imagery the teams are first building a ‘skateboard’ – it gets you from A to B. But it’s basic. Over time this might be developed into a scooter, a bicycle, a motorbike and ultimately a car, but at every stage there will be a working product which can be tested and proved. This contrasts with more traditional approaches where the components for the car are built up gradually but it is only usable and testable when it is complete. In both cases you end up with a car but following the Agile method, testing and feedback throughout the process should result in all the user needs being fulfilled and if they end up happy with a ‘bicycle’ or a’ motorbike’ then their needs have been met more cheaply!
Image courtesy of Henrik Kniberg
So what products are we building?
For the Information, Advice and Guidance workstream we have been developing a new beta website for stockport.gov.uk, including the implementation of a brand new Content Management System (CMS) and the establishment of new guidelines for Website Design and Content. The first exemplar pages being developed are for ‘Healthy Stockport’ (for Public Health). This is a brand new area of content for the website and contributes to our aims to support the wider Stockport Together programme. Working to support this service will help to design a technical architecture and CMS that really meet service and user needs.
The second workstream, Digital Transactions Service, has had a longer set up period. So far a new technical environment has been established in which developers will work. This will support the creation of new standards of reporting issues and requesting services across the council. The work is starting with creating new ways of reporting by citizens and the development of the Citizen One Account in which citizens will eventually be able to request and track a wide variety of services.
The Business Intelligence and Analytics team also demonstrated that new products are already in production. Their challenge initially is to automate existing data processes, bringing a variety of data together into a data warehouse. The aim is to free up human time for the more valuable complex analytics and insights. The team used an Ofsted information request as an exemplar to demonstrate how data extraction can be automated. The latest snapshot of the data can now be extracted from the source, validated, cleansed, processed, and transformed into a format suitable for the end-user, whenever needed and all without human intervention.
Whilst most teams have been in delivery for several weeks, the Single View workstream has only just finished inception. Single View’s aim is to securely bring together customer data from various back office systems into a single flexible dashboard. The aim is to save valuable staff time by enabling individuals. Currently, viewing information from multiple sources means staff having to spend time searching and retrieving it from several systems. We are looking to prove this new way of finding information by creating a step-change in the way we understand individuals and families with complex needs. We aim to do this by creating an initial read-only platform, to which functionality and data services can be added further down the line.
The showcase concluded with a presentation on exemplars from the Mobile Working workstream. New ways of working and technology were trialled among Social Workers last year. These are now being rolled out to Welfare Rights and Rapid Response CAF teams. Whilst we are still somewhere short of the halcyon “All your apps, all your data, anywhere” the workstream is already bringing positive benefits and is clearly welcomed by the workforce.
Over the coming weeks we will be publishing updates on progress across the programme (in line with hosting further Showcases) as well as highlighting new ways of working and the development of new features and functionality through regular in-depth articles.