Technology – not just for the techies…

Image of a washing machine and drier with piles of washing in front of them.

From the programmes on your washing machine to the place you save your files on your work laptop, technology infiltrates our lives, sometimes without us even realising. Using technology can be one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences to one of our biggest frustrations, so we want to share what we are doing to change the way we work and help remove some of the frustrations for our colleagues.

We’ve had a lot of changes in the Technology team here at the Council and this has brought a fresh approach to how we do things, in particular, a new Technology Roadmap. The Roadmap serves many purposes but, in a nutshell, it demonstrates our commitment to the organisation and has given us a renewed lease of drive and inspiration. It gives us a united goal to focus on while keeping user needs at the heart of what we do. It provides us with a golden thread throughout our Technology team and together we are using our capabilities and skills to problem solve and design the Council’s technology architecture to deliver what we need it to.

Why it Matters…

We are all very passionate about the Roadmap, as this has given us a vehicle to balance the bigger initiatives alongside what we must do to keep things working in the background. It has considered what new things the various Council departments want and need, as well as the capabilities our technologies can currently deliver.

We must not build something on ageing technology as that will just lead to problems, so we have identified what needs to be upgraded or replaced to achieve our new initiatives. This has forged the way for us to understand what new policies and procedures need to be in place so that everyone is getting the best out of the technology they use during their working day.

It also matters that colleagues feel that they are being listened to. Sometimes technology can be seen as a blocker, and we are striving to help people understand the need to secure our IT estate while delivering new capabilities that will help streamline and enhance our working practices. The Roadmap is there to not only drive us forward but to help us stay secure.

Hexagonal Shapes that detail business outcomes and technology capability

How this is changing the way we work together

We quickly enabled home working during the Covid pandemic. We then needed to ensure this model was built upon for the future, to ensure all staff, regardless of location, have the technology and skills they need to support them in their role; anytime, anywhere.

Working with staff from across the organisation, we gathered the ideas and principles we wished to embed over the next three years, from building the basics, to fostering and developing our core technology offer. This activity was divided into foundational ‘pillars’ which establish the infrastructure we need to build scalable technology solutions in a fast-changing environment.

With this clear vision it helps us to:

  • see and understand the implications of our plan,
  • communicate our plan’s ‘big picture’ and benefits,
  • keeps our team on track to deliver these plans.

This exercise has generated additional benefits, promoting teamwork, creativity, and innovation. It has highlighted the need to improve our communication with each other, increasing transparency of what we are delivering and when. It has reduced silo working, creating more opportunities for us to collaborate and work together. It has also helped us involve the right people, at the right time, in one session rather than several disparate meetings.

What the experience felt like

Developing our Technology Roadmap involved careful planning, collaboration, and engagement with stakeholders. We needed a deep understanding of the organisation’s goals and objectives, as well as the resources and constraints that will impact implementation. It was essential to collaborate with a broad range of stakeholders throughout the process to ensure it is aligned with their needs and priorities.

Image of colleagues in a collaborative workshop to create the Technology RoadmapPicture taken of sticky notes that denotes what activity is needed

One of the key challenges was ensuring it would be flexible and adaptable to ever changing circumstances. The Council operates in a dynamic environment, and it is important to be able to adjust as needed to respond to new challenges and opportunities.

We are excited about our Technology Roadmap, it’s making a positive impact and will help shape the future of the Council. By continuously engaging with stakeholders, we can develop technologies that are truly supportive of the needs and aspirations of the community.

What we learnt or might do differently next time

As a collective working together towards one aim we are a stronger team, and this has influenced us to set up multi-disciplinary teams around functions so we can solve problems in a different way.

Other highlights include:

  • taking the insight from in our Business Engagement team to shape programs of work so we are assisting the organisation in the right way to achieve the outcomes in their business plans,
  • our approach to prioritisation should be set out from the beginning and based on consideration of impact, feasibility, urgency, and alignment with the organisational outcomes,
  • communication is key!! Explaining our process to different audiences, such as senior management, Support Services, and using appropriate channels, formats and language has been part of the planning when taking this out on the road.

We will soon be publishing our first version of our Technology Roadmap and we plan to take forward our learning this time into future versions.

Next time we will:

  • open-up the conversation to all levels of our Technology team and remove the hierarchy from the conversation,
  • use the insight from our engagement across the Council to help inform our collective decisions on roadmap delivery and planning,
  • include the user stories and link it back to our residents more – what will our residents see because of this change in approach to planning and delivery?

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