Digital charge research

What makes a person like me take on a new role that’s so far outside their comfort zone? Firstly there’s the new technology – using MacBooks and whole new systems to learn and navigate around. Then there’s the Agile way of working with scrums and sprints, and trying to understand the language of user experience and developers.

Welcome to my second month working on the development of our new digital services as a User Researcher, on an Agile development to bring in a new Digital Charge. Our aim is to develop a way to register a mortgage online with HM Land Registry that reduces the risk of fraud and error, and helps to improve processes and user experience. Our success factor is to get support, in principle, from 2 major lenders by the end of our Discovery phase. A tough but achievable task.

Besides the hardware issues, the first thing that grabs you is the unstructured way of working. Impromptu meetings are called to discuss and advance certain aspects of the project, and depending on the subject, all disciplines may be involved. This includes product managers, user researchers, developers, analysts, testers and lawyers and fraud representatives. The plans that you’ve made for the day can quickly be turned on their head, but it’s this aspect of the role that can be very refreshing, and very empowering. You very soon get the feeling that what you’re involved in will have the ability to transform HM Land Registry and the way it works.

The User Researcher role itself brings me back to more familiar territory, as my previous role was in Business Development – involving going out to talk to customers. In this case, the external stakeholders are lenders, conveyancers, and citizens. We walk them through our prototypes which the stakeholders provide feedback on – both good and bad. These results are given to the project team with copious amounts of Post-it notes on whatever wall space is available. The developers build the changes into the prototypes, and a fresh round of visits are arranged to gain further feedback to the new version. The process goes round again, each time getting closer to a polished, finished product.

So what’s the answer to the question asked at the start of my blog? In my case it’s very much the buzz of a fresh challenge, working with new people, learning from others in the team and adapting to a new way of working. This keeps me on my toes, and hopefully keeps my body and soul young!

Roger Wilkinson
By Roger Wilkinson,
Business Development Executive at HM Land Registry