Week 26

This week held two highlights for me. The first was attending our daughter’s first school Christmas play. Having been petrified of standing up in front of people to the point where she refused to take part in her nursery’s graduation ceremony, all of a sudden there she was taking a starring role in two back-to-back productions of “The Whoopsy-Daisy Angel”. We were proud parents, many photos were taken, and it was also great to look around the room and realise how quickly so many of the other families at the school have become familiar.

The other highlight was getting some time to work with Jordan, David and Stuart on the “Maslow” project, which is an effort to pull all the work around GOV.UK and user needs back into one place. In my recent talks at Strata conferences I’ve talked a little about how we started with “the need-o-tron” but weren’t able to balance its development with everything else so moved to a huge collection of spreadsheets. That was the right decision at the time, but it’s great to have a chance to pull it all back together so that we can more clearly relate our actions and our performance to the user needs we’re serving. I spent Tuesday morning working with the team on reviewing where it’s at and looking at how to represent “duplicate needs” in the database, working through some of the trickier edge cases and debating the appropriate model.

It’s been a good week on the GDS Tech blog, with a couple more posts on the router project and one from me pointing to other interesting things the team have been writing. With so much interest in what we do, and so many people writing so well about it I’m keen to make sure this blog is in no way a silo. Instead it’s a way into our work for people who are particularly interested in the tech, and a chance to go into more detail than is appropriate for other audiences, but hopefully also a way of pointing the tech audience toward the broader picture of what we do.

There was also quite a bit of time spent exploring training plans for the junior developers we hope to hire over the next few weeks, and looking at where we are with our approach to hosting sensitive data and managing secure systems. The latter’s a complex area partly because of the nature of the work but also because of the many layers of government practice and policy. Simon had pulled the group of GDS architects together to make sure we were sharing what we were learning, which was a really valuable exercise and left us with a few clear steps to take so that we can make sure we’re working together better in 2014.

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