Today, Kristian Dunn shares his experience of working in a agile way for the first time, as part of a project in the Innovation Lab on how people pay the Council.
Like a lot of people, I find buzzwords very irritating. They seem to constantly come in and out of vogue and I’m often left wondering what they even mean.
I have heard the term ‘Agile’ used a lot recently, and when I first heard it, it meant very little to me. Therefore, when I got the opportunity to work with FutureGov on what was described as an ‘Agile’ project on payments in Bexley, I was intrigued to understand more about what it meant and some of the benefits it can have.
Agile is an umbrella term for project approaches that focus on short, sharp bursts of work seeking to deliver tangible results at the end of a defined period of time. My experience of this approach on the payments project has been very positive.
For example, instead of having 1-2 hour long meetings every month to discuss progress, we met every day for 15 minutes over 2 weeks for a ‘daily stand up’. At this, we each took it in turn to say what we achieved the day before, what we will work on that day and any barriers we faced. Everyone found this to be a really helpful way to update on progress and avoid long, laborious meetings.
The approach on the payments project also encouraged everyone to adopt flexible roles. For example when we carried out user research, everyone in the project contributed in some way, even if it was not something they had ever done before. This meant that everyone was able to develop new skills and contribute in fresh ways, as opposed to simply sticking to their ‘job description’.
Finally, by clearly defining an initial 2 week time-frame for the first piece of work, we were able to stay focused on what we were trying to achieve and deliver tangible results at the end of the 2 week period. This resulted in insightful user feedback on our payment systems which will help inform how we deliver a system which benefits local residents and works for our staff.
It has been a great experience and I have taken a lot from it, and know that others from the project feel the same. I’m excited to see this approach being adopted more going forward.