52: Week Nineteen



Kind of an intense week to make up for skiving with my bad tooth last week I guess.

Monday and Tuesday I was in London for a whole host of meetings – mainly with Cabinet Office/GDS but a few other folk as well. I stayed in Pimlico for two nights which also meant getting the most sustained period of time to chat to my boss since we started as well – much scheming was undertaken and it was very helpful to me at least to help me get my bearings on what we are up to.

Anyway a quick overview of my meetings;

Open Data: colleagues from our major open data project presented to Paul Maltby (Director of Open Data and Government Innovation at the Cabinet Office) and Antonio Acuña (Head of data.gov.uk) and I was really just along for moral support (and succession planning I guess as its a project I’ll inherit at some point.) Meeting went very well I think – the presentation and demo were great and everyone walked away feeling satisfied.

Analytics & search: I met with Peter Jordan who is Lead Digital Analyst over at GDS to pick his brain about their approach to web analytics and search optimisation. It was a very helpful conversation that I came away from with much food for thought (so much so that I ended up walking all the way from Holborn to Pimlico mulling things!). It was nice to hear that despite them being far ahead of us in most areas they still face some of the same challenges.

Web publishing & linked data: TSO have recently done some work for the ONS around the Open Geography portal and they were keen to chat to us about their wider offerings. It was a pretty standard (pre) pitch, sales meet up but there were some genuinely interesting elements to their presentation. They demo’d a lot of the Legislation.gov.uk work they have been involved in which is clearly an exemplar project for us and also has some very interesting and helpful things to say about the security challenges they had faced. It was a useful meeting and provided some new options for us to consider.

Strategy: Met up with Tom Loosemore to get his take on the direction we are proposing to take strategically and also just to pick his brains about tactics to get things done at this level given his involvement from the very start of Alphagov. As ever Tom was insightful and encouraging and we came away from the meeting feeling that we were on the right track if perhaps playing it a little safer than maybe we need to.

Performance & Service Standard: A meeting with Richard Sargeant (Director of Performance & Delivery at GDS) for an introduction to the Performance platform and a little about the Service standard was really useful. We are in the early stages of putting our measurement/KPI stuff together and I am keen to report this information openly (been something I have been interested in since Steph opened up the DIUS web stats years ago!) and the Performance platform seems to provide the perfect opportunity to do that so look out for that near the end of the year. The Service standard was already something we had been looking closely at and it was helpful to get a feel for the wider approach there- certainly it is something we need to be mindful of.

Wednesday and Thursday kind of mimicked the nature of the start of the week just with internal meetings – my week off and failure to delegate meant I was behind on my reporting responsibilities to various boards and that needed sorting out and I had useful meetings with a group of internal ‘digital champions’ to start increasing interest in the work we are doing and a fun planning session for an upcoming conference session we are putting on.

I’ve also been in discussions about adding some more formal internal training courses around digital/data storytelling – I’ve committed my team to doing something relatively small for now but I think I will look to grow this in the new year.

Thursday was notable for the fact I had so many meetings I never even got to open my laptop to login over the course of the day! Not something I am looking to repeat any time soon.

Friday I went to dConstruct for my annual inspiration shot and next week I have new staff starting, no shortage of meetings (including heading to GDS again in London) but hopefully some time to do a little work 🙂

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