5 principles for finishing short projects in record time

by Chris Chubb - Head of Business Technology Consulting, Government Sector | minutes read

Chris Chubb, Head of Business Technology Consulting, Government Sector at Sopra Steria shares the working principles that saw the ‘One Broxbourne’ team implement a brand-new JADU platform for customers and staff in a record-breaking three months.


There’s a lot that can be done in three months, but you don’t often add an entirely new website and digital platform to the list.

Our work with Broxbourne Borough Council saw us achieve just that, delivering the fastest Jadu implementation on record. In 14 weeks, the joint ‘One Broxbourne’ team implemented a new self-service platform and transformed 30+ of the highest priority customer journeys. We know that in large, wide-ranging and ambitious projects there is always huge potential to go down rabbit holes, get distracted or attempt to do too much, too fast.

So how did we achieve our record-breaking delivery and what wisdom can we share that can be applied to any agile project? Here are five of our key principles.  

 

Start with a clear mission and focus

We had an immovable deadline and a lot of work to do, so it was vital that we were all focused and working towards the same goals. To get there, we set out and agreed our mission and focus upfront, ensuring every member of the team was bought into it.

Putting customers at the heart of every decision was a key driver, focusing our design on customer experience and the reality of change. The ‘three-click rule’ was an example of our focus and mission to improve services for customers, ensuring that there should be a maximum of three clicks or screen touches before a customer can self-serve online.

 

Set firm boundaries and stick to them

Next, we set and agreed five rules which we stuck to, with no compromises. “Can we just add this?” “Would it be easy to do something different…?” The answer was no – and it’s not always easy to say! But if we hadn’t kept these firm boundaries, we wouldn’t have gone live on time.

 

Be realistic

With such an ambitious deadline we had to be realistic about what we could achieve and which areas we needed to prioritise.

We identified some of the most painful customer journeys, such as reporting missed bin collections, where there was a high volume of customers or high impact processes. For these initial 30 journeys we developed a ‘minimum viable product’ to focus on making simple immediate changes that took the pain away for customers. This was phase one of a much bigger roadmap.

 

Foster strong relationships built on trust

We wouldn’t have achieved such pace and success if it wasn’t for our high-performing team and our culture of trust and transparency. In every scenario, we knew that when a colleague promised to deliver something, it would absolutely happen.

The ‘One Broxbourne Team’ was a brand new way of working for Broxbourne Council, and established the programme as a force within the Council. This multidisciplinary team brought together Council staff from all key service areas as well as colleagues across Sopra Steria.  To ensure everyone felt real ownership and accountability, we created an agile and supportive culture, we didn’t shy away from difficult conversations and we drew upon expertise within the Council.

As a transformation team, One Broxbourne has been announced as a finalist in the 2021 iESE Public Sector Transformation Awards, in the Best Transformation Team category – proving that, while transformation is always hard, having the right people and relationships makes the journey much less challenging.

 

Know where you’re going next

Three months and 30 journeys later, it was go-live time. Our built-in contingency had given us an additional week, so we were actually ready to go in advance – but it’s not over until it’s over and we had an ambitious roadmap to keep us going.

We always knew that this was the first stage and we worked closely as the ‘One Broxbourne’ team to plan out each of the next phases. We kept focusing on high-impact and high-volumes journeys, always seeking to reduce pain for customers. We worked through a backlog to keep momentum across the programme and to give us almost immediate feedback on how our journeys were being used in the real world.

 

It has only been through experiencing pitfalls and barriers in the past that we were able to introduce and benefit from the mindsets outlined here. Constant learning is paramount, and we’ve continued to use this throughout our two years working with Broxbourne Council. With over 150 digital services delivered in this time, our early success laid the foundation for the Council’s transformation.

 

Our success with this implementation was a contributing factor to our new strategic partnership with Jadu, through which we aim to support more councils to realise the tangible benefits of reimagined, user-centric digital services. The addition of Jadu’s intelligent, ‘low-code’, easy-to-use technology underpins our capabilities, helping us to empower digital councils to connect with their staff and citizens.

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