Delivering services so good, people prefer to use them

Cate McLaurin, Head of Delivery, Hackney

In Hackney, we're using GDS approaches to build services with empathy


We don’t have a digital strategy

But we do have 6 focus areas

We do have a manifesto

What’s my role?

Head of Delivery. Cool title but what does it really mean?




I think my role boils down to this:

People not resources.

Delivering value early and often

Being clear about the problem we’re trying to solve

Excellent Agile delivery skills

A team of agile delivery managers

Delivering projects, yes. But also spending time coaching others in team collaboration, delivering at pace, chunking work up so it’s manageable, visualising their work, working openly

Great procurement and contract management - doing the hard work to make it simple*

*it’s never as simple as you’d like

A team of procurement and contract experts

As ICT we buy things, and we have lots of contracts

We’re focussing on getting better at this - empowering the teams to do this well. Using digital marketplace and frameworks to make it simple

Shorter contracts, more SMEs

Getting the basics right - if you don’t know what you need and why, how can you buy the right thing? And how can you work well with a supplier if you don’t manage the relationship well?

A pipeline of talent

What does that mean? Can be really cheesy

For us it’s about - our apprentices, our existing staff - what skills do they need now and in the future . . ., and hiring the right people

It’s about technical skills, and it’s about people skills. Softer?

For me it’s about creating confidence. Contract management example

An innovative approach to governance

Rob/Matthew tore up everything we had - it wasn’t working

We’re using user needs, and agile manifesto to guide us

Why is it innovative? Because it truly starts with - trust the team

Work in the open by default 

Most decisions should be made at team level 

When a decision impacts more than one team — those teams are discuss and agree what to do

Where a decision impacts us all — we need to discuss that more formally at a senior level

Clear protocols and guidance

Work in the open by default — because that enables us to reduce formal governance

Most decisions should be made at team level — that’s where the best information is

When a decision impacts more than one team — teams are responsible for discussing and agreeing what to do between them

Where a decision impacts us all — we need to discuss that more formally at a senior level

Clear protocols and guidance help us so we avoid overwriting each other’s decisions.

Working in the open

working openly to promote

sharing and common re-use

UR library, API platform, public weeknotes, HackIT blog

Working with, not for (or even worse doing to)

working with services to redesign end to end service

It’s not just digital

It’s not just agile

Working to standards

Service assessments, GDS tech code of practice, HAL checklist

Conversation (before we talk about service assessments in more detail)

Conclusion: We had a big team, with no common purpose and resource-hungry attitude, so we started with ‘Why’ (the manifesto). We learnt ‘how’ by not having a strategy but acting entrepreneurial to show what was possible whilst learning how we did that. We’re now working hard to connect every day work to our approach by: Embedding user needs in everything we do. governance as a service principles, communicating the ‘why’ before the ‘what’ and the ‘how’, Experimenting with short-term, high intensity areas of focus

Service assessments

Local digital service standard

Teams to tell their story, annd get feedback. We expect high standards. And empowered teams.

They’re not a gateway. But they are a challenge. And they provide assurance.

Trust the team.

A beta phase example -

Neighbourhoods Contact Centre

A mix of met and partially met. Peer review - and open challenge on use of agile. Team decided how to tell their story. Assessors gave recommendations and the team went away to ‘fix’ the things they needed to fix. 6 - is data secure, team hadn’t had the review from our security team through yet. Also Partially met until readme format agreed and then delivered.

What have we learned? Left to tell their story in a supportive environment teams are often quite hard on themselves! Feedback so far is that whilst it’s hard (and a bit scary) preparing for an assessment, it’s helpful to the team. Gateway - surprise form some that we don’t go back and check what the teams done as a result.

Delivering services so good, people prefer to use them - Google Slides