Monthly round-up: November 2016

As the days get shorter and the year’s end gradually draws closer, yet again the run up to Christmas is proving to be an exceptionally busy time for work.

I usually try to keep my projects quite distinct, because I find that’s the best way to flex around the inevitable change that always happens once you get started. If I need to add in a few more days or jump on a train unexpectedly, that’s fine. Since October however, I was splitting time between two projects which actually worked really well because they complimented each other nicely. I talked a little bit about both of them in last month’s update. Both were around standards – one internal with the RNLI, one sector-wide with the ODI and Sport England.

RNLI

The RNLI team have had a very busy month. They’ve launched their lovely new site, and are also working hard on the last push for their Blue Skies campaign where they were the first UK organisation in the charity sector to announce a move to an exclusively opt-in approach for communications. From January they won’t use any legacy data unless you’ve explicitly stated you want to hear from them, so if you’d like to keep in touch please give them your permission!

These endeavours however were (sadly!) nothing to do with me. Instead I was working with the Digital Transformation team on their internal technical standards for digital. We wrapped up our work at the start of the month, and I was also able to squeeze in a bit more time to help out with a new project, including attending agency pitches and reviewing a product. I love getting to hear different people’s approaches, thought processes and rationales, and it was great fun to be back on the other side of the table.

Physical activity standards

As the RNLI work wound down, the project with the ODI and Sport England really ramped up. This is what I’ve spent almost all of my time on this month, and to date I’ve spent half my time looking at the technicalities of what’s in place and what we need to define, and half speaking to people about their needs to see how the two match up. I’ve now published some initial research into the direction for the standards, spoken to a number of different organisations to understand what they’re doing and what their needs are, and am now about to launch a plan for the advisory board, plus writing some case studies about sporting organisations that have seen benefits from open data. We also attended an extremely interesting session on behavioural change last week, and are hopefully going to extend some of my work into this area to see how that will impact on the needs for the standards definition.

New business, old colleagues

As much as things are busy now, they never stop in terms of having to make sure work keeps coming in! Amongst the ‘real’ work I’ve had some great chats about potential new projects, including having to make quite a big decision around whether to get involved with another entity more formally. With a couple of proposals still out, I’m hoping that there will be some exciting new stories to tell in the new year. In addition, I also managed to sneak in a lunch with an old colleague who has just been made MD, so we had a strategy chat over some noodles – my favourite kind of meeting.

Extra-curricular

And finally, I’ve wrapped up the month with two incredibly exciting events. The first was to attend a DevelopHer event at 10 Downing Street along with 99 other women in technology. The attendee roles were incredibly broad and I was able to chat with a great range of people who all had interesting background and advice to share. Being in 10 Downing Street itself was something that I couldn’t turn down – walking around and seeing things that you’d seen on screen or read about was fascinating, and I’m very grateful to have been included in the day.

The second event was more hands on – presenting a Royal Institution Computer Science Masterclass, held at Essex University’s Colchester campus last Saturday. I’ll aim to write up my session in more detail in case it’s of use to anyone looking to do some similar teaching, but in short I aimed to give the 27 students (around 13 years old) a whistle stop tour of some of the different disciplines involved in making websites. As the students were there by choice they were very engaged, and were a fantastic group. There was however a real range of experience in this area as they all came from different schools, which made it quite hard to pitch. I think the end result of a mix of guided and more free activities worked well, and in the end we covered UX, design (as much as I can teach that!), and some HTML and CSS, with some brave souls diving into JavaScript. From the things that I’ve done with education lately it’s been apparent that many students haven’t been exposed to the broad range of roles and skill sets that are needed to bring a website to life, or indeed that there’s more to the industry than just making websites. Hopefully my session went some way towards some future devs, QA testers, data analysts, user researchers, or anything else popping up.

Read more from the blog

Back in time:
Monthly round-up: September and October 2016

Forward in time:
Digital transformation for the masses

Posted by Sally Jenkinson

Sally is a the lead consultant and founder of Records Sound the Same, helping people with digital transformation. She's also a speaker, coder, gamer, author, and jasmine tea fiend.