13/08/21 | Post Holiday Catch-up

What went well

Catching up with lots of my key direct reports to make sure everyone is doing OK, things are going in the right direction and sort out anything stuck.

Refocus. Some of the things that were almost complete or near to a checkpoint prior to holiday I caught up with.

2 days in the office this week, I really enjoyed catching up with some people in the department I’ve not seen in a while.

Small steps forward

I supported our programme manager with the presentation of a key project mandate outlining a cyber security programme of work and the questions that often come with the investment needs of such a thing. Keeping on top of cyber security isn’t the cheapest thing but can you put a price on the risk of being a victim of cyber crime? We know that unfortunately Ireland was hit by this a few months ago so a key priority for us.

A new system development to be able to support a new service go live has been assigned some dedicated project management and business analyst resources to start warming up the software development specification. Clinical safety case is being built into the process from the beginning to ensure the right checks and balances are embedded into development and launch process. This ensures that the system launches as safely as possible.

Getting into the detail

Some key reporting needs that have been in progress for a while were revisited to ensure that the right output is achieved. There is still work to do on this to assign the best method, resource and timescale but it was good to unpick a lot of complexity and agree a sign off. This piece of work has had many starts and pauses and the requirements constantly change so it feels like the work never completes. Taking a step back and reflecting on progress shows the progress made, just on reflection, getting a clear written specification up front would have saved a lot of time. As with any bespoke developed IT system there is always the opportunity to develop more features to support further reports but taking a step back and reviewing what the problem is before coding any work saves time and rework efforts in the long run.

What didn’t go well

The amount of emails that I was hit with and had to wade through on the return from my holiday took most of my time this week. There were loads… 2500+ in total was waiting for me, so going through them took some time and I focused on parking ones I could go back to later. Nearly there I think! I’ll never get to the bottom of them, that’s just how it goes and lots of rules are in place to mark and move common ones from systems and online system updates.

Some tasks that were planned just didn’t get done but on the radar for next week.

Are we nearly there yet! Can I just do….

Knitting together pieces of information from phone calls, emails referencing meetings where there was a lack of IT representation and pulling everything together into an output has been the challenge this week. The time and effort needed to discuss and pull all this together takes time away from doing work. While this is going on more work is added to the pile to keep the systems running. Changes are in progress to ensure that the right level of information is verified before taking on more work, each meeting to clarify vague requests end up throttling valuable productive time. Giving staff the confidence to challenge the status quo and channel work through new processes is embedding.


On a personal note it’s been a tough few weeks recently, one of my daughters was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis so I’ve been supporting her through the early stages of this. Its known territory as her twin sister has had this since being a toddler, so a surprise that this has kicked in out of nowhere. Massive thanks and respect to Sheffield Children’s Hospital for all the support this week.

I had a visit to Barnsley hospital this week following my own achy bones / stiff joints / stretching type things I’ve been experiencing over the last few months. Turns out I’ve got some form of Arthritis too! Early to call what sort yet but a round of X-Rays and some further investigations will see me onto the next stage.

Things to focus on

Recruitment | Still working on finalising some additional roles for the team.

Reading Update

I started the excellent Audible:

SCRUM The art of doing twice the work in half of the time

from the legend that is Jeff Sutherland. Having read many agile, lean, kaizen and software development / process improvement books I’m looking forward to this one.

Within the first few minutes it had me smiling about the wonderful magical and mythical project plans and Gannt charts. What I see the most of is waterfall method project plans and Gannt charts that support them. They look nice, are used for many funding applications and seem to be the tool of choice to prove to the masses a sense of control.

But… They are a thing of mystery, mayhem and totally wrong almost all of the time. The scrum book explained how they were invented to support the planning of WW1 when soldiers were fighting in the trenches, but when the first shot is fired they are obsolete. So why are so many organisations fixated by them?

Move to agile methods or be left behind… Easier said than done. We at my organisation are moving in this direction but there is always a need to present progress in dashboards and fulfil governance group reporting at all levels.

Book Loot to Start / Finish

  • Audible | 17
  • Hard Copies | 8
  • Kindle | 167