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GovCamp Cymru 2017

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GovCamp Cymru 2017

GovCamp Cymru 2017

For once an event was timed well with meetings. Two meetings on the Friday with some clients looking at interesting projects all within 30 minutes of the event venue. This was my first visit to GovCamp Cymru and the first time we have sponsored the event.

The meetings went really well with 2 great Welsh customers talking through their challenges and how we can help. I finished my second meeting in Cardiff at 5.30pm and was looking forward to the pre event meet up and a couple of well earned beers with old and new friends. Always on these trips I get to see bad processes and I was about to get to see one. Unfortunately NCP car parks had a few little banana skins to put in the way pre beer. I pulled into the car park to find a queue of a couple of vehicles no problem, or so I thought. A few minutes passed and no movement despite numerous cars exiting. A bigger queue was building up behind me and I was effectively trapped on an on ramp.

After a few more minutes I ventured up to see what was happening only to find a young employee struggling with a broken barrier machine that wouldn’t issue tickets. He said he should have it fixed in twenty minutes or so but his demeanour and body language combined with the random opening and shutting of the machine reminded me of a person in the office trying to clear a paper jam who can barely work the kettle. I felt sorry for the guy behind me in the dinner jacket who commented as he checked with the lad for about the fourth time ‘I am dying for a slash’ his mate had long since walked off to join whatever soiree they were headed  for!

He said he should have it fixed in twenty minutes or so but his demeanour and body language combined with the random opening and shutting of the machine reminded me of a person in the office trying to clear a paper jam who can barely work the kettle

I decided to try twitter with the complaint and whether it was coincidence or not another member of staff came along to assist this clearly out of his depth colleague. Great I thought should be sorted in a minute feeling a little smug now about the power of a twitter complaint. I couldn’t have been more wrong twenty more minutes passed with 2 people randomly opening and slamming the various panel attached to the machine and talking to the helpdesk on their phones no doubt being told to switch it on and off again. It felt like I was at a performance of Stomp as the 2 members of staff ever more urgently opened and slammed shut the various panels with vigour. The uncomfortable man in the dinner jacket probably hoping he didn’t wet himself went up and spoke to them again and came back with a message of success but also of pessimism ‘I bet it breaks again before we get in’.

It felt like I was at a performance of Stomp as the 2 members of staff ever more urgently opened and slammed shut the various panels with vigour

The first car in front of me pulled up to the barrier and pressed the button …. nothing happened! Finally some sense prevailed after a few more machine bashes. We will put the barrier up and let you in (an hour after we became trapped). Why did they not take this action earlier? ‘We will just take your name so that you can get out in the morning’. Obviously I assumed they would offer a heavy discount if not free because of the inconvenience. I was now late for the pre event meet up.

Obviously in the morning the great service continues I cannot use a machine as I have no ticket nor can I use my discount vouchers from my hotel. I am in a hurry in the morning so get to the barrier and talk to customer service ‘no you can’t have it free and no discount, you need to pay full price’ I was in a hurry so I paid as I had to get to the event to get set up. To add insult to injury their online form is rubbish also for leaving a complaint I left the first complaint and received no acknowledgement so I left another again no acknowledgement 4 days later still no response to either complaint. Take a bow NCP a number of bad processes and customer service. Fortunately I use an NCP car park in Exeter when working with Exeter City Council so I am able to fine them an amount I am happy with by taking my business elsewhere the value of the fine will be decided based upon their handling of the complaint!

The pre event meet up was excellent even though I was fashionably late (NCP you gits). Although I am an out and out unashamed process geek as I believe the first challenge of any problem is to understand your current process, I am also a student of lean and understand all the elements need to be in place to ensure a programme is successful. Its great to meet up and pick the brains of other experts in their fields to look at how I can solve other challenges in my programmes, I can feel a great coalition of the willing in the making, bringing the best expertise to bear for some amazing benefits to customers. Some great discussions around policy, culture, strategy, operational delivery, agile, service design and even Councillor engagement ensued with many lessons I can apply with my work with customers.

It’s great to talk about how these disciplines compliment each other and all align to lean principles. Great to meet some new friends and talk random stuff like a new definition of pasties (excellent conversation for a Devon boy).

The morning of GovCamp Cymru was here and I arrived at the impressive Pierhead Building in Cardiff Bay. My only criticism of the whole event is it took a while to get into the building at 9am to set up before doors opened at 10am(oh and the coffee was a bit weak for a Java Lava boy). Upon entry I was met with a sea of red t-shirts. Without this army of volunteers great events like this would not take place. I was proud to be a sponsor of the event but these volunteers give up lots of time to make sure we can all get together and make amazing things happen. GovCamp Cymru volunteers and organisers please take a bow you done great. I was made to feel welcome and offered assistance by many people during my set up.

GovCamp Cymru volunteers and organisers please take a bow you done great

I got set up and put my stall out in plenty of time before the throng of visitors descended. Its a credit to everyone who attended who gives up their Saturday to ‘work on the work’ and think strategically about how they solve their day to day problems in the public and third sectors. GovCamp Cymru had a great vibe they work really hard on being inclusive and it shows. Amazing photos of the day are available from Nigel Bishop of WN Bishop some of which can be viewed in this post but all are available here many thanks for the quality images and proper coffee Nigel it helped keep me going in the morning.

GovCamp Cymru had a great vibe they work really hard on being inclusive and it shows

The day was kicked off by Esko Reinikainen of The Satori Lab who provide the private sector support to the event volunteers. Cracking person and company for cultural change within your organisations. To continue with the more inclusive nature of the event Esko talked about the whispering service and also a new help to pitch service. The whispering service helped to explain some of the jargon that inevitably can crop up in theses events and to transfer this to plain English/Welsh. The facilitated pitches idea was to provide a facility for those who had an idea but weren’t confident to pitch to get help from one of the volunteers. Clearly as an introvert himself Esko had a hand in coming up with this idea!

Esko explained the history and rules of the unconference in a friendly and welcoming way. Much less/no emphasis on the negative behaviours that had been part of the LocalGov Camp introduction that prompted my guest from Engage in Holland to ask if people behaved like that and I had to say no. The pitches started and there were many interesting topics, I did not pitch myself as often at these events I find myself doing demos or talking lean/service design with potential customers when sessions are starting. Ben Proctor policed the 30 second rule with his phone and horn (sparingly used) and the board quickly filled which just left a quick 10 minute break to digitise the sessions before they began.

Clearly as an introvert himself Esko had a hand in coming up with this idea!

I had lots of good discussions and demos of Engage Process in the main room. I really enjoy talking all things process and explaining how our product and approach can help customers deliver lean and service design in a better way. If you map processes please take the time to get in contact get your free demo and free trial you will not regret it. Having worked on public sector processes for over 15 years I can honestly say the software is a real game changer. Many people are also working with BPNM or Architecture tools to deliver aspects of their programmes and I was asked a few times about export functionality to BPMN (on top of the already existing Visio). Although there is limited benefit to the export to BPMN as the maps contain much more detail than the detail needed for the orchestration element of BPMN clearly there is a real user need/want.

At the time I had to say that the functionality was not there but could be part of future development either in the October release or more likely January 18 of the new HTML5 suite. I truly love working with Engage Process as true to form they under promise and over deliver consistently. On Wednesday I received the specs for the new release so now I can provide an update. As of 18th October export to BPMN and import from BPMN is now available. Get in contact to set up a demo/free trial. After missing the first sessions due to demos I was able to attend the one pitched on User Research.

I truly love working with Engage Process as true to form they under promise and over deliver consistently. On Wednesday I received the specs for the new release so now I can provide an update. As of 18th October export to BPMN and import from BPMN is now available

The User Research sessions with lots of Business Analysts, Product Owners and User Researchers sitting in a room discussing the topic (apologies I am truly a process geek). The thing that struck me most is the difference between central government and local government when it comes to service design projects. It struck me when a User Researcher from the Environment Agency was talking about a flood risk service. The sheer volume of resources deployed on a Central Government project vastly outweigh that deployed in a similar Local Government project by a huge factor for projects of very similar complexity. In no way am I saying the resource was excessive for Central Government merely contrasting it to the shoestring level of resource in comparison in Local Government.

It stands to reason Central Government services are delivered to the entire nation, on the same platforms, the resources are centralised into delivering new services and the work of the GDS means they have great resources available to help deliver Lean and Agile projects. Local Government by its nature is delivering local services and almost all 400+ Authorities are trying to deliver excellent digital services for up to 860+ services, individually running Service Design projects on a multitude of platforms with a fraction of the resources. There is some work by GDS going on about Local Authority service design but it is clearly focussed around take up of GDS service such as Verify and Notify. By the way if you are in Local Government please do look at the excellent Beta on offer around Notify and how you can leverage that in your services (25000 texts for free per annum is not to be sniffed at nor is the charge if you want to use more).

Local Government by its nature is delivering local services and almost all 400+ Authorities are trying to deliver excellent digital services for up to 860+ services, individually running Service Design projects on a multitude of platforms with a fraction of the resources.

There is clearly a better way forward for Local Government and it comes through collaboration. The only way we can solve problems better is to work together. It reminded me of the session at LocalGovCamp Anthony Peake of Software Solved. Anthony pitched and delivered a session titled ‘How can local government reduce digital TX costs by 50% and generate revenue’ (see earlier blog for more details). There has to be an opportunity for LocalGovCamp and GovCamp Cymru plus private sector partners to help be a catalyst for change in the way we improve services. We as a company built out of the Public Sector would be happy to support service design projects using our expertise and market leading software to help. Any organisers want to get in contact please do it is a subject I have discussed continuously across the past year Nick Hill of the Public Sector Digital Transformation Forum about how we can use the existing networks to make it happen. Lets make this a year where we take some of the lessons from unconferences and bring them to life. Next up for me in terms of blogs will be a detailed missed bins case study showing the benefits of service improvement.

Lots more great conversations at the stall and I only got to attend 1 more session and it was one of the last ones a light and happy topic of Brexit. I contemplated playing devils advocate and pretending I voted for this but couldn’t bring myself to do it with my deep Holland ties. As has already been mentioned by various blogs the probability of deal or no deal is very likely to be no deal. As a staunch remainer I find it hard to look at the promises made of a glorious Brexit with a better deal, money back and control of everything with the rest of Europe begging us to make a deal and not contrast it with reality of no deal (or progress on a deal in 16 months), falling pound, businesses planning to move headquarters to the EU and all round no one except Donald Trump saying we did the right thing. I think I echo the session when I say I hope there will be further democracy in action to decide if the deal is right before we plunge off that cliff. Days after Sainsbury’s released a report with some pretty bleak figures and the OECD released a statement advising that ‘reversing Brexit would boost economy’.

I really hope its time the country (politicians) starts thinking about the 100% not just the 52% who voted for Brexit (of those that voted) and starts to make some brave decisions about needing to examine what people voted for and whether they are going to get it. Light stuff to finish off a great day!

I loved GovCamp Cymru and credit to everyone involved and attending. I look forward to next year and would also love to see it happening on a work day so that people are not forced to add another days work into their weekend. Maybe there is the opportunity to do a Friday and Saturday event next year? I will definitely be sponsoring and attending.

Govcamp Cymru
Andy Sandford
Andy SandfordDirector
Agile and Lean Evangelist and Guru

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