So, my curry, glass of Merlot and visit to our Property Information service team in Plymouth came at a cost. I now have to tell you how it went, so here we go!
I work in the Find a property support team with my colleague, Cathy Weaver. The current service, which helps you find information about a property, has been running for some years now. Due to various challenges, we have been unable to make any changes to it and accept it is well overdue for a makeover. So the thought of a new service filled me with glee.
Before I visited the team, I felt we had so much to offer in terms of customer feedback that would benefit the new service. I did have concerns, and wanted the chance to share my views. So, Product Manager Paul Chambers invited me to visit his team to see how they worked.
The first thing that struck me (other than the fact that I thought Paul was too young to have 3 children) was the buzz of activity in the team. The staff were so passionate about the new service and all brought different skills to the table. Some were developers, some were researchers, and some were processors. And there were more post it notes plastered everywhere than you could swing a stick at!
Listening in on the meetings, it soon became clear to me how the team and agile worked (something I’ve not done before). I must admit, it was a very difficult concept to grasp, that a web page could so quickly be changed and that all decisions about the development of the service was based on user needs. It was all so new to me.
The team work in 2 week sprints and new ideas are tested on members of the public to find out their user needs. Changes to the new service can be made at a drop of the hat (or a click of a mouse in this case) which meant the site was constantly changing. Ideas and feedback were discussed in regular meetings and decisions were made by the group as opposed to the team leader. Conversations were heated at times but debates were well thought out and researched and discussed until a solution or action were agreed.
I began to see that my worries about the new service were one of the many user needs the team is juggling to build. Their priority is to get the service built and launch a minimum viable product to users, and then change it based on feedback. I think it was quite naive of me to think how the new service should be developed. This visit showed me how much more is going on behind the scenes, how many challenges there are, and how they keep on working to improve the service. So, thank you Paul for inviting me.