We thought we’d try blogging some week notes – probably not every week, but as much as we can. Each time, a handful of the Made Tech team will share a few notes and thoughts about what we’ve been up to, and things we’ve learned along the way. We’re anonymising clients and projects so we can publish quickly, with low friction. But hopefully they’ll give a bit of insight into how we work and the sorts of things we think about. Without further ado, then…
Dani Swift | user-centred design
One of my favourite things about my work is the peaks and troughs, as in sometimes there’s loads to do and sometimes I’ve got time to gather my thoughts, get my shit together and plan for the next spike. The balance really makes me appreciate the other when I don’t have it. The past week for me was 100% the latter – I’ve spent it mostly prepping for design work.
For context, we’ve experienced some challenges with finding willing participants to interview which is a bit of a blocker to getting into the hands on designy stuff so rather than spending this week taking notes in interviews and gathering insights I’ve had to be a bit more creative with my time. Being a newbie(ish) to the field means that I’m finding it hard to move away from the feeling that I’m making it up as I go along, but I’ve been sharing my work and my progress with my team and they’ve been happy, so I guess it’s worked out in my favour.
What did I actually do then?
It’s been a lot of assumption mapping and collecting of design principles/potential features that should be built into our prototype based on the workshops we’ve had so far. I’m actually super-pleased with all this progress as every little part feeds into understanding a complex problem space that I still don’t get at all.
Something else I feel pretty good about having started is some early proto-persona development, which actually reminds me of something that’s been on my mind this week.
I was toying with the idea of using Generated Photos for them. These mugshots have all been created with AI. I can’t help but think of Freud’s “uncanny”, and whether having a face that’s never really existed will help the audience to build empathy (which is the purpose of a persona) or whether it has the opposite effect completely??
Knowing me, that’ll live rent free in my head until the next big question comes up.
Reuben Hillyer | cloud and engineering
A big week we’d been waiting for for a long time in a team that got nearly all of my focus this week. We finally start the data migration from one product to another and there were a lot of critical points.
Great aspects this week were multi-disciplined collaboration within the team and pausing for feedback. We don’t have delivery on demand but really pulled out the stops and showed multiple deploys per day were possible when necessary.
Without pausing we’d have been in all sorts of trouble. Stakeholders really appreciated updates every 3 hours or so. Learning points are to finalise the environment more than a day in advance, always try to test and mitigate risks and put yourself in users’ shoes.
A reality hit with the DM’s circumstances – family and loved ones always needs to be the priority – puts things into perspective and reminds us to look out for each other.
Monday started with pain: the transfer of the raw source data into our domain failed over the weekend and our DM was unavailable due to personal reasons. We stepped up on stakeholder comms and made a couple of contacts in a platform team that was unknown to us.
Took the opportunity to use the delay to make a couple of performance improvements. Amazingly, fortunately the platform team agreed to resolve the incident despite being in a period of enhanced change control and our supplier was due to reattempt transfer on Monday night so went to bed happy.
Tuesday morning and the transfer was going smoothly. By mid-afternoon we had restored and validated the data on our estate, chalking off a big risk on the stakeholders’ radar. We ran a couple of small isolated tests and things looked positive but we were a day behind schedule.
Weds brought more drama. Ran the first small portion of the migration (live cases) and paused for feedback. Had some issues, spotted in our monitoring and operational feedback. They were caused by last minute changes made at the end of the previous week and a lack of awareness of how the users use the system.
The team ensembled on finding forward fixes. Stakeholders remained updated and engaged and we had everything lined up to start again on Thursday pending an automated regression pack success. Thursday started well. Regression was green but some additional testing in pre-prod found an edge case worth fixing. The next portion of migration (recent closed cases) went through well from a technical perspective.
A couple of user observations that needed investigation but prepared to roll-forward on Friday and get really stuck into the meat of the migration.
Kayleigh Derricutt | managed services
As usual for me it’s been a week of context switching, which I absolutely love. I also spent time speaking to a wide range of people across Made Tech, including some new (to me) faces:
I met with Ed and Jamie to figure out how we can save a client money on live service support, and have since then been working on building a managed service proposal for that client team.
Sade is working on a central government project where the team have spotted the need for additional support of their AWS platform. We caught up on what Made Tech has to offer that client.
I supported Ian and Laura with bid responses where projects I’ve previously worked on are being used as case studies.
As part of my role on the ESG committee I’ve been summarising lessons learned for FY23 and recommendations to share with the leadership team.
During my regular 1-1 with Seneca we had a brilliant rambling chat that went around the houses and led to us finding him a shadowing opportunity with a key client.
A meeting with AWS on public sector partnerships was unfortunately cut short as the brilliant partner manager is leaving AWS to study for a masters degree. That one goes back onto the to do list for next week when we know who our new partner manager will be.
Chasey recommended a couple of brilliant books so I immediately spent my entire learning budget for the quarter and began reading the first one: Value Proposition Design.
I reviewed a case study prepared by Lucy and our PR consultants, in preparation for the upcoming managed services landing page.
One of the managed services teams priorities for Q1 is to break down our capabilities into specific offerings we can package up and articulate for our clients. This week I’ve been focussing on our “assessment” offering (offering name TBC) and met with James and Chasey to share templates, ideas, experiences.
Owen Blacker | cloud and engineering
I got as far as:
A bit of an unusual time this week
And then got distracted with other tasks
Jude Stockwell | content design
This week I have mostly been reviewing content on various client web pages. We are working on ways to display several kinds of safety information.
All these require a delicate balance between making risks clear without scaring people, and whilst maintaining the appropriate tone of voice for the client.
The client is a respected organisation with an authoritative voice on their areas of responsibility. They want to give information that will still allow people to make plans, but to make them aware of any risks without putting them off.
They can’t make assurances about safety that are seen to be carte blanche to go ahead with something that is not their remit, but they can give information that allows users to make informed decisions.
Catherine Whibley | delivery
This week is the last of our 10 week discovery, so all our activity has been focused on the final play-back of our findings. We’d put together a lot of our slide-deck and content (in rough form) last week, so Monday and Tuesday were all about taking different groups through sections of the report to get their feedback.
On previous discoveries I’ve worked on, we’ve had challenges with doing this – either not being completely finished with our analysis, or having a client that wasn’t particularly engaged. However this project has been the ideal experience!
On Monday, we had a session with some of the account team (who know the client well), our sponsor from the client, and another team who are kicking off their own discovery next week – on a very related topic.
This was a great chance to cover the scope of our project, and specific finding that will influence the next team’s work (they’re doing a deep dive into a process that forms part of the wider picture we were investigating). Having fresh eyes to present to helped us identify where we were making assumptions about what a reader/audience member would already know (and we’ve spent 10 weeks talking about so don’t even notice as interesting knowledge any longer!)
It also helped us better understand the flow of narrative and where we were a little bumpy in how we were presenting our story.
On Tuesday, we had a session with our working group – who comprise quite technical stakeholders, so we ran through the more technical elements of the landscape we’d been working through.
This ended up being more of a discussion and we gained really useful insights into some of the “why” of what we’d observed and mapped – and which this group reflected they could only start to provide because we’d brought all those observations into one place.
This was a really useful session to help us provide more richness to our findings, and also helped shape and augment some of the recommendations.
We also had a session with our steering group, and for this session we played back our key findings. We’d already been testing these with this group in our weekly catch-up sessions.
While this section of our presentation was the least well polished, we were reassured that the messages landed well, and the questions that were raised all were more looking for detail than identifying any gaps that we may have missed.
The rest of the week has been finalising a long deck (for anyone who wants the full detail) and then stripping that back to a short version for presentation on Friday afternoon. All in this has been the best end-of-discovery I’ve experienced – probably the only thing I would change is moving the final presentation to Friday morning as I suspect we’ll just be tweaking and second-guessing by then!