Week beginning 22 March

So that’s how it feels. Thursday: a feeling I’ve not had for at least 12 months. The feeling of release that comes with a release. Of knowing you did the right thing, a bold thing and an important thing. We recovered case notes from the social care system and could present them in the new case recording tool we’ve developed. 

There have been others of course, plenty of others. The work on Here to Help, the annual billing for council tax, webchat and now Repairs Hub. They were all important too. It’s not even my achievement. 

But I sat there, in front of anxious social care professionals in early January and told them we’d do this. That in March social workers would have access to this data. I said we would do the things that were fastest, safest and most sustainable to recover council services, and we did. And I had the Thursday team all-hands. And I think I kept on a level, although inside I was all Steve Ballmer

Of course there’s ample room for modesty. There are plenty of council services that aren’t yet back to where they need to be. Important aspects of social care remain work in progress. We’ll learn about what more we need to do next with this piece of work through next week and beyond. 

But none of those facts, important, big and challenging, can dilute the feeling. 

Focus for the week

I had six goals for the week of which the above was only one. And objectively, two of the other five weren’t achieved. I wanted to align teams around the cloud engineering roadmap, but we won’t do that until next week. I wanted to complete some software selections and actually just generated a flurry of management activity.

But the data platform team did an important and early first show & tell and I’m confident will do the right things in the first sprint. The show & tell highlighted some of the early reasons why the work is going to be important but hard. But the team also did a really nice job of taking the high-level concept that we’d stumbled across and already developed the next level of detail to be able to show people how it could work. 

We’ve also got a clear plan for recovery of our Comino records management software and work is starting. I’ve mixed views about some aspects of our software suppliers but it’s been really notable how many of the people who work there really care about the impact of the cyberattack and are invested personally in supporting our recovery. 

Ones to watch

Housing finance spine – a team led by our partners, Nudge Digital, has been working to develop the tools to help us close our annual accounts by coming to a clear view about account balances and payments since the attack. They’ve not only built a highly usable service but also the basis for how we’ll migrate the data from our old housing application. It’s particularly exciting to see projects where the scope means we are able to do the right thing for recovery, whilst also building a bridge to what we need in the future.

Case recording – Now’s the time to push not pull back, if we can summon the reserves of energy. We’ve got an exciting and important roadmap for the next four sprints. And we need to balance two modes: finding the right answers through careful research, prototyping and iteration with releasing features early and finding the product/market fit through observation and iteration. 

Document upload and evidence store – we knew in October that we would need the capability to manage residents’ documents and evidence. The work started in the context where people were struggling to see its immediate value and the bar for ‘good enough’ was quite high. So the team has been labouring away doing the hard work to understand user needs and make things simple. And it’s now a couple of sprints away from being able to make a really important contribution to our supporting key council services. 

What I’m learning

I had a great piece of feedback this week about how I’ve managed performance. It was specific, right and well-timed. You may have noticed, depending on the day of the week we spoke.  I find it particularly challenging because it’s easy to do, but hard to do well and done badly it has terrible consequences. I’ve sometimes shied away because of a fear (which can also be a bit arrogant) that my expectations might be unreasonably high.

Next week

I’m having a break. It’s not going to be easy. But I’ve worked hard to get ready for it. And I’m going to fill my time to the nearest second in order to stay off my devices. It’ll be Kindle all the way.