Week 93

  • We’ve been in the planning trenches this week with our product teams, as we shape up the roadmaps for each of our products over the next 12 months. Beyond the first 3 month horizon it’s often about framing the problems to solve, not always the specific features we’ll deliver. And, of course, being comfortable with things changing down the line.

    I challenged our product managers to think about the “greater than the sum of the parts” outcomes across all of our products. For example, how might our processes change when we hold greater amounts of data about the businesses we regulate, or how might a business deal with us when many of our services become available over APIs?

    We’re turning some of these into vignettes to share with our colleagues across the regulatory areas of the group about what the future might look like.

  • At the complete opposite end to shaping up the future vision, our teams are on the home stretch towards delivering our first private beta services for 30 June - which is less than 3 weeks away!

    At the pointy end of that process there are a few dependencies that we have to have ready, like connecting to our department’s new single sign-on platform and progressing the paperwork to get the formal tick of approval to operate the service.

  • Via Zoom, I joined the 2021 Digital Services Convening hosted by Harvard Kennedy School and Public Digital. It’s an annual series of presentations and conversations from digital units in governments around the world (and it’s not like the past 12 months have been quiet for digital government).1

    The perils of being in UTC+10 meant the daily sessions commenced at 11pm here in Sydney. This year I didn’t burn the midnight oil quite as much as last year but it was great to see fellow trans-Tasman digital folk like Jithma from Victoria and Ann-Marie from NZ.

  • There’s been good discussion online this week on the enduring suitability of the ‘discovery / alpha / beta / live’ approach for delivering digital services in government.2 Whilst originally conceived as a way to guide teams away from waterfall delivery, it is too often interpreted as a blunt instrument that imposes a single linear process on teams. This disincentivises continued prototyping, experimentation and improvement across different elements of a service.

    Dai shared a diagram that shows how the process can be better seen as non-linear - a journey that loops and branches as teams go deeper and deliver new features of a service. I re-read the UK Service Standard today and I think it’s noteworthy that none of the individual criteria themselves actually specify that teams follow the phased process.

  • A big week for global internet infrastructure as the Fastly outage took down websites worldwide, including GOV.UK. The incident report from the GOV.UK team is worth a read - the transparency here is great.

And for a photo this week, here’s the return of fireworks to Darling Harbour in Sydney:

Fireworks in Darling Harbour
  1. Here’s the report from last year’s event by David Eaves and Lauren Lombardo. 

  2. In Australia, we adopted the same approach and called it the ‘service design and delivery process’ as part of the Digital Service Standard.