Things I shuffled along

This week in the payment options discovery, we analysed our research with 16 services and organisations using GOV.UK Pay. That means we

  • pulled quotes and observations out of our transcribed interviews
  • grouped these by common high-level themes (e.g. cost, contracts, payment types, user needs, etc.)
  • wrote and developed more specific themes for those categories (e.g. transactions fees are important, technical teams involved / not involved in procurement, pays invoices in instalments, etc.)
  • mapped those to the journey we think teams take when procuring and implementing a payments solution, and
  • used the What? So what? Now what? structure to talk about our reckons and what we’ll do next

It’s really cerebral work. You have to take what someone’s told you, pull some meaning out of it, and then weigh that up with all the other bits of information. There’s lots of going deep to understand nuance, then zooming out to do pattern-matching, then going in again to check your assumptions, taking distinct and atomised findings from multiple sources to build a full picture. Like navigating a deep, dark cave with a primitive LIDAR scanner.

All in all, though, we ended the week with some great insights and ideas on where to explore next, and we’ve edged closer to deciding which payment options to provide next. We’ve also picked up heaps of useful information that’ll feed into Pay’s wider strategy.

Importantly, we’ve learned another reason for why the Direct Debit pilot failed: no one wants one-off Direct Debits, they’re mainly useful for simple renewals or paying off debt in instalments. Not having that functionality meant the pilot wasn’t viable. (And we couldn’t have done this without the help of the other discovery team looking into finance processes and enterprise resource planning – thank you, Stroop!)

But most important is how we ended the week as a team: on a high with a clear idea for what to do next. That synchronicity I was talking about last week has developed over the last week and everyone seems comfortable with each other, with saying what they think without fear of looking silly.

We also launched the MVP for telephone payment links, a new product for taking payments over the phone without needing to integrate with our API. It’s in private beta phase with one large department, a town council and a police force. We’ll collect feedback over the next few weeks to identify and prioritise further iterations.

Things I started

I started pulling together a list of teams to talk to that don’t use GOV.UK Pay, to help us validate what we’ve found so far in the discovery.

Some puzzles

Going back to a puzzle from a previous weeknote about the product community, this week I spent 2 hours talking to other product people in government. A head of product and a senior product manager looking for advice on KPIs; a product manager moving from the private sector; and a project manager looking to adopt product-thinking. There isn’t a head of the product management community at the moment, and I know these people are only coming to me because I’m a loud-mouth blabber who puts themselves out there, but it does have me worried about who else isn’t getting the support they need.

Other things

I’ve been working on my running form and pace, and I achieved two new personal bests: 22 mins 26 secs for a 5K, and 49 mins 22 secs for a 10K. It’s good progress, but I need to do some sums to see if I’ll hit my goals by the deadline.

It’s quite fun having an arbitrary goal to progress towards. That’s the post-neolithic human condition really. We’ve sorted out shelter, we’ve sorted out food, we’ve organised ourselves and got some good-enough technology. Now, what arbitrary goal can we reach next?

We’ve taken to watching period dramas on Sunday evenings by candlelight, so that the flames light up the lounge as the skies are dimming. It’s very atmospheric. It made Portrait of a Lady on Fire much more evocative.