https://pds.blog.parliament.uk/2016/05/13/digital-portfolio-our-board-and-values/

Digital portfolio - our board and values

This week we held the first gathering of Parliament’s Digital Portfolio board. This is a group of senior leaders from across Parliament who are charged with ensuring that we deliver Parliament’s digital portfolio.

It’s important to us that this process is open and transparent, and so I thought I’d share my own perspective on how we’re working.

The digital portfolio is essentially a collection of programmes, projects or initiatives designed to achieve Parliament’s digital strategy. It’s the culmination of months of hard work by my colleague Rebecca Elton and her team, and she will be sharing more about it soon. The portfolio is loosely grouped into three areas:

  • Digital platforms – core tech, collaboration tools and infrastructure
  • Digital management – business and corporate applications
  • Digital Parliament – data & services for public use and re-use

I find that digital roles often blur the boundaries, and my own is no exception. I’m on the board because I wear many hats – I’m driving the redevelopment of Parliament’s web services, I’m accountable as a ‘supplier’ to many of the projects and I’m part of the digital strategy team.

It was our first meeting (and in my case, the first time I had met some of the board members) so the agenda was light and focused on three things:

  • A stand-up on delivery progress (from each of the portfolio managers)
  • How we’re going to work together as a board
  • Status report – what issues and risks do we have, how will we handle new requests

Two things stood out to me.

First, the genuine commitment, energy and enthusiasm to make sure that we, as a board, support delivery for Parliament and our users. It was expressed differently by each of us but was consistent in meaning and palpable.

Second, the focus on how we work together, and the behaviours we each want to exhibit. That’s so important because digitally enabled change is not about the what (and rarely is it about the technology per se), it’s the how: our values, how we behave and how we support others. Rebecca had instigated this approach, and the board endorsed it with enthusiasm.

I’m paraphrasing here, but I thought I’d share some of the behavioural thinking:

  • We want to keep paperwork light and accessible, but our preference is always to show not tell, and to be closely connected with delivery teams
  • Collaboration across Parliament is essential and we committed to working closely with each other, and taking the decision that most benefits Parliament rather than our individual teams
  • Digital projects aren’t just delivered by people who work in digital teams and it was brilliant to hear the recognition from people who work in non-digital roles that they not only see the need but want to take an active role in delivering a project
  • As a board, we want to do what we can to make it simpler for the teams who are directly involved in delivery. So that means having difficult conversations about delivery priorities, really looking at the value of something and questioning why we’re doing it, and not being afraid to stop something
  • We will move towards shorter delivery chunks, which will help us to assess value for money and user needs
  • Focus on the big picture and possibilities and less so on the detail
  • Trust our delivery teams and protect them so they can deliver
  • Be open and transparent – with budgets, our decisions and visible at show & tells

It was a refreshing approach to digital governance. If you’re interested in finding out more about how we’re approaching this then feel free to get in touch: @_allenemma or allene@parliament.uk

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