Week 103

Back to the weekly notes.

  • I had a great meeting on Tuesday with the folks leading the community-led effort to grow and maintain the Australian Government Design System. I’ve mentioned the Design System in my weeknotes before - we’re using it to build our new services. It helps us go faster and draw upon user research and accessibility improvements made by the people who came before us. So I’m very pleased that a community is emerging to support it - and we are keen to do our bit to help.

  • Some good work this week to progress an approach to user support for our services. The department already has quite a few teams that do different bits of this, but I’m interested in what we can do to join up the technical support with our other ‘back office’ teams that process applications or deal with complex regulatory issues. Ideally, we’ll have one helpdesk that a user can call regardless of what might be causing their problem. Service NSW do this really well.

  • I feel my weeknotes often paint a very rosy picture of our work. This is largely true (and on the whole, I think we’re doing rather well). But we do have our fair share of not-so-rosy problems, which I’ll share to give a glimpse of the growing pains we face as a new digital team.

    A particular challenge we’re solving at the moment is working with legacy systems. One of the limiting factors stopping us scaling the private beta of our Readiness service is that the data for our beta users has to be manually extracted from a back-office database - the Establishments Register.1 This database is a few decades old and hosted in the department’s data centre. Our plan is to eventually replace it. But like all good legacy systems, it’s amassed lots of different features over the years and, with it, many interconnecting parts.

    For now, we’re doing the work to automate the step to import the data. This requires us to connect the old database to our new service hosted in the cloud - and, for a variety of different reasons, this takes time. So we’re working through it and we hope it won’t be too long.

  • I’ve been looking into how we might be able to host larger ‘morning tea’-style video calls with our teams. I like the idea of spatial audio, where you can move around a virtual room and only hear the people near to you. MakeSpace is a great concept, but seems to have gone quiet. We’re going to give Mibo a try. It looks interesting (and works in the browser) but is limited to 25 people.

  • Some great weeknotes from Brigette and Tracey this week, if you fancy a read.

It’s now 8 weeks since Sydney first locked down. My hair is getting impractically long. (David H has offered to chip in for hair clippers.)

  1. All good products have a Wizard of Oz phase and ours is no exception.