Shaping the Future – Birmingham Digital team

I’m now into month 3 in post and one of my first priorities has been to kick off the work to reshape the IT and Digital teams so that we have the capacity and maturity to support the Council with its digital ambitions. Bringing our digital strategy to life will require a shift in how we currently operate. 

We’re set up to be a fairly traditional IT organisation. This means we work to deliver to prescribed business requirements, which mostly take a long time to deliver and might be prone to a lack of imagination.   We want to transform into a modern digital organisation, where we are working in partnership to design services that meet user needs, that are more likely to be innovative, and then deliver those at pace in iterative cycles.

Understanding where we are

Workshops and engagement with the team
Photo by Jason Goodman on Unsplash

Birmingham is a large council and with that we have a large digital and technology team of around 350 people.  We need to make sure that everyone is engaged and involved in Shaping the Future (the name of our redesign programme), so we are planning a number of ways for people to get involved:           

  • Regular interactive update sessions; the IT&D leadership team provide an update on the service redesign as well as the key things happening in the service.  These sessions are virtual, and we use Mentimeter to gauge how people are feeling and to get live feedback and suggestions as well as a more traditional hands up Q&A
  • ‘Take 5’ interviews to communicate the vision and to present a bit of the personal side of our leadership team through short 5 minute videos
  • Yammer live Q&As
  • An internal SharePoint site with a library of information and a place to catch up on any missed meetings
  • Workshops and sessions to “bring out your dread” where we can talk about the things that are bothering people and start to think about which of those things we can change and influence. Workshops are used to capture innovative ideas to incorporate into the service design.

Our agile tools such as Mentimeter and Miro will be flexed to the max to make sure the engagement is interesting, interactive and accessible. This is important given our size and that  most of us are working remotely and even when in the office, we are not all in the same place.

Maturity assessment

We have started to complete a best practice maturity assessment of our service area, taking a deep look at the gap between where we are and where we need to be. We will also bring reflections from our users and stakeholders into our current picture of the service.

Once we have the maturity assessment done, we will overlay how we might increase the maturity level if we input things like training, capacity or new technology in the mix.

These will then be played back to our teams and stakeholders to get their thoughts on the results.  

Understanding where we need to be

Developing the new service design

Once we have the current picture of our service, we will take a look at that with our strategic ambition.

We will hold some workshops with our teams to get their thoughts on what needs to be in the new service and play back some initial concepts around form and function, values, behaviours and skills.  Then we will flesh out our plan to put a new structure in place to help us deliver the service.

Understanding how we will get there

Implementing the new service design

We already know that we need to shift from being a traditional asset focused IT organisation to being a modern enabling digital organisation to deliver our strategy.  That will mean some formal changes to our structure and the jobs that we have in the team.  We’re going to crack on with recruiting to some of the digital roles that don’t exist in our current structure and build that capability now.  These are likely to be roles in design and agile delivery and there’ll be more about these from the team in later blogs.

Meeting the Local Digital Declaration will be central to our new service, and so we will be using the DDaT skills framework for new roles, alongside SFIA (Skills Framework for the Information Age) for more traditional roles, as it’s likely we will need to have a blend of roles for the foreseeable future.  

We’ve already engaged with lots of councils in developing our strategy and would really like to lean on work done by those leading the way, to save us having to develop those from scratch. Conversely we are happy to share any of the detail with how we have gone about this, and I will blog regularly on how we are getting on!


    • Hi James
      Great to hear from you – hope all is good with you. Likewise we are v. excited to start seeing this come together. If you have sometime to spare then would be good to have your feedback on our beta digital strategy and any thoughts you have on the priority themes. Lots to learn here 🙂

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