A new year, a new zeal

Starting 2017 working with the all-of-government digital services team.

Posted by Mark Kirkpatrick on January 20, 2017

It’s been a long time since my last post and just over a year since I started working with Government Information Services (GIS) here in Wellington as part of a wider team building user-friendly, quality digital services for citizens and NZ government agencies.

So far, so good with a new intranet for public sector across New Zealand rolled out, and we’re on the cusp of releasing a new open data platform and service proposition- data.govt.nz. This has all been done in the context of implementing agile environs and practices, empowering new teams in being able to release, iterate on build - quickly and often.

It is a really exciting time to be part of government service delivery, so I thought I’d share some principles that have informed work so far.

Identify problems you want to solve clearly, quickly

A plethora of user problems may at first seem insurmountable, until you start breaking them down to recognise recurrent themes, giving rise to identifiable achievable goals that can make a real positive impact.

image of 4 people as a team making hand gestures Building a team with common purpose and clear goals

Strategise to energise

The days of piecemeal, ad-hoc, approach to development of digital services should be long gone, yet many still approach delivery this way alone to medium and long-term detriment of their proposition.

Formulating, agreeing and communicating a clear digital strategy that addresses user and business needs, and can be translated into initiatives that deliver tangible, valuable outcomes that benefit users is key in motivating digital product teams.

That strategy should be informed everyone on the team, from those at the coalface (the product owners, developers, analysts etc.), to those across senior leadership, until it is agreed and asserted so everybody is clear, with collective ownership of goals and associated KPIs.

Zeal; great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective.

Building collaborative teams

Any digital service or product needs to have a core product team (product owner and product support) of good people to in any way stand a chance of success.

Teams that are empowered in delivering to strategic goals can creatively solve problems and deliver compelling propositions for users. Creating a positive environment for collaborating, promoting open communication and celebrating achievements are all part of doing this.

Encouraging teams to adopt a lean release cycle promotes a culture of experimentation and swift release in addressing user problems - this helps sharpen focus and keeps team members grounded in addressing user needs through product build or evolution..

Next Steps

It’s been a blast, working with committed, creative people looking to improve things for users, trying not to be swept away by strengthening tides of changing needs, behaviours, expectations, platforms and tools.

Working on new initiatives in the context of a newly 'bedded-in' organisational structure provides fresh impetus for the wider team to go forward confidently and design, deliver digital services for New Zealanders that are consolidated, valued and used - making this a happier new year for all!.