It’s been a while since I talked about what we have going on so thought I would share what I have been up to this week as a taster.
My week started with a discussion about a ‘Housing Innovation Centre’ where our Digital City colleagues showed the art of the possible with IoT technology – sensors and the like. Housing have many significant issues at the moment with things like disrepair in council properties, and in particular with damp and mould which is a real health hazard for our tenants if it goes untreated. It was agreed that Housing would identify a ‘testbed’ set of properties where we can try out this new technology which will take damp readings from within homes so we can act early to prevent problems. It’s great timing for the work as we have our Product team supporting Housing teams to do a review of damp and mould and disrepair litigation to see how we might improve e2e processes in that area, possibly with digital solutions to support. It also supports the work of the Route to Zero team who have a retro-fit programme to make homes more efficient – but their contractors can’t go into homes that have black mould, so their programme is being slowed down. This is a great example of joining up across services and taking a strategic approach to problem-solving.
This week has also seen the kick-off of our ‘Optifolio’ project – the questionable name having been derived from a ChatGPT request! – which is a short project to prototype a portfolio management tool that can help bring visibility to how our projects are delivering value. I sat in for part of the day on Wednesday to hear how things were being done and it was really good to see how the team was tackling the problem together with their agile coach. They now have a 15min standup each morning to agree what they will do that day and to move things along on the JIRA board. The whole team is buzzing and I look forward to more projects being run like this in future.
I also kicked off a piece of work to map out our delivery plan for the year in the technology theme of our digital strategy – there are lots of things we want to do including replacing switches, firewalls, laptop refresh, implementing MS Viva, migrating applications to the cloud, providing access to our digitally-excluded colleagues, developing our digital plaform…and much more. This week’s work started to draw together all the needs that will allow us to construct a business case to cabinet to secure funding for the next year or 2. I also presented at a series of councillor briefings this week on our digital strategy cabinet update which talks about the things we achieved last year and what our focus will be this year. Below is an example of what we have done, and our year 2 plans, around the Data theme of our strategy:
These councillor briefings take time to prepare and run but are worth it because they help smooth the way for cabinet to approve the report.
The West Mids Placement Portal build work is pretty much ready to start – we have commissioned a supplier (NEC) to build this for us. Once complete, the portal will provide an important link between supply and demand for children’s placements, allowing the region to join together to do even better for our children in care. This will be a complex delivery as there are 14 local authorities involved in sharing the platform we will build. This week has seen the key partners putting the finishing touches to the governance that will smooth the way!
And finally…I was chuffed to have been invited to the final show and tell of the current field worker team. They have absolutely pulled it out of the bag this last few months in getting ALL the planned services live AND in transitioning the support of the platform to our Platform team AND finalising the build and test of the Risk Marker solution. It is brilliant to see the vision come to life and all credit to our brilliant delivery team for getting us to this point. The plan from here is three-fold (1) to have a small team dedicated to onboarding new services onto the existing platform; and (2) to develop new features in Housing to allow the platform to be of even more use to their teams; and (3) the roll out of risk marker to services.
So much going on, looking forward to the weekend and then back on the next set of priorities next week!