2017 has included some unexpected things for PDS. We've responded to a general election and a sustained cyber attack. Now we're dealing with another change in the landscape.
Rob Greig, the founding Director of PDS, has left to take on the role of Group CIO at Arup. In my first week as the new Director (previously I was Rob’s deputy) I wanted to write a blog post to talk about what PDS has achieved so far and what the future holds for us.
We’ve achieved a lot since Rob arrived and PDS was formed back in April 2015. He’s led and delivered fundamental change that we won’t go back on. We’ve recruited people into a new structure and we’ve developed a digital strategy for Parliament. This is significant as Parliament has a statement of its digital ambitions for the first time. We’ve started working with those inside Parliament and beyond to make that strategy a reality.
Martha Lane Fox in her recent debate in the House of Lords on Digital Understanding said:
Technology is changing our world at a speed we have never seen before, a speed that I believe will now never be reversed. That is a challenge, but if we allow ourselves to awaken we can make it a source of tremendous opportunity.
Spotting that opportunity is something that Rob really helped Parliament do. He helped us to make sense of the reality that digital isn’t a choice or an option. It’s not about technology, it’s about how we live our lives now. He approached transforming Parliament with a tenacious attitude and encouraged everyone to work in a digital-first environment.
So I just want to say thanks to Rob for all his hard work. Especially on one particular occasion. Most people have heard about the recent cyber security incident. It was the worst and most unexpected kind of crisis but I’m really proud of the way the team worked together and Rob proved his leadership abilities throughout.
Rob reflected on his time in Parliament on a recent podcast so head over and check it out.
Not changing direction
As the new Director I’ll be building on Rob’s momentum and continuing to deliver.
We’ve done a lot of work behind the scenes on projects which will start to change the way Parliament works. And this change will start to become very visible as soon as we introduce Office 365 and Skype for Business to colleagues across Parliament and beyond. This technology will give everyone in Parliament the tools to work in a different way: collaboratively from any device and in any location.
Other important pieces of work will also step up the pace in the months ahead. The new MP and Lords pages on the beta website and the search function have given everyone a taster of Parliament’s new website and there’s much more to come before Christmas. You can help us improve it by giving us feedback on the beta website.
We’re also improving vital systems which help Parliament do its work. This includes the sound system in the Lords Chamber, historic Hansard, a new bills petitions system and Parliament’s online shop. Tangible products which will make a big difference to our users.
Working in new ways
Last year, Rob talked about delivering the unexpected and we’ve come a long way since the Digital Service was formed. For me the achievement I’m most proud of is the significant change in our culture and the way we work.
When PDS formed we combined an IT department and a website service. As well as welcoming new colleagues, it’s great that so many of those staff are still here – contributing to Parliament and embracing new ways of working and delivery.
I’m also enjoying seeing the teams working in an agile way, doing user research, and building things like the beta website.
Our PDS cultural values are care, community, confidence and curiosity. We launched them just before the cyber attack and although I see them being exemplified across the team each day, that major event has meant we had to postpone the launch we’d planned. In the coming months we’ll be doing more to bring them to life.
It’s an exciting time to be taking over as Director and over the next few months there’ll be more I want to share. I want to continue to be clear and transparent about our work and what we’re doing so expect a lot more from me on this blog. I’m already planning my next blog post.
Follow PDS on Twitter for regular updates on our work.