I’ve not written any weeknotes for a few weeks, either because I’ve been enjoying the down time or visiting friends across the country. These will be brief because a lot happened over the last three weeks, including me wrapping up my role at NHS Digital.1 I’m going contracting for a while, with my first stint on the GOV.UK Design System.

Things I started

I helped the service owner and programme manager get the service lined up to go through the assurance process properly. The platform wasn’t required to go through assurance at the point it was created because it was built quickly for rapidly emerging needs during the pandemic. But everything was given a waiver briefly, expected to be assessed against the Service Standard eventually, and we initiated chats to make sure it’ll go through.

One of the other teams in our programme, arguably an internal stakeholder, wasn’t keeping abreast of our team’s work, which I found out through a one-to-one meeting. Although we do show & tells and give updates at a programme meeting, they’re swamped with work and don’t have time to attend the show & tells or watch the recording (which is a shame). I started a set of internal weeknotes to be emailed out each Friday, at their request, which they appreciated.

Spent a fair amount of time thinking about how we’d build a support & community hub for the service. This is referred to in the Better, Broader, Safer report as a ‘national open library’ of documentation, how-tos, re-usable code and tips on best practice. I compared a few options, did a benefits analysis, and spoke to people across the data science and RAP community of practice. I also hosted support & community hub prototype on GitHub Pages, so that we could host it for free now Heroku is getting rid of its free tier.

I wrote a recommendation for Tom, our lead product manager, because he is bloody brilliant. I think it took less than a week for things to just click between us. We think about and do product in the same way, and we have overlapping interests to boot. I’d have no hesitation in working with him again, and you should do so too if you’re able!

Things I shuffled along

We did a fair amount of work on the learning & onboarding journey, building prototypes and preparing a plan for testing. This got swerved by another team at the last minute, so we had to adapt our approach. I’m hoping the team get to complete the tests in my absence.

I themed up the outputs from the cross-programme workshop to highlight the gaps in the service that needed working on. I took a few hours so I hope it gets used.

Some puzzles

It’ll be interesting to be a contractor. I expect I’ll need to do more organising of one-to-ones with senior management and stakeholders, to check they’re getting value out of my contract. What’s lucky is that I’m joining a team where I know half the people and a directorate where I know most of the senior management, so there won’t be as much bridge-building to do as elsewhere.

Other things

I’ve not done anything cultural recently, or not that I can remember. I’m playing more video games which is a nice change.


  1. For the avoidance of doubt, the only reason I’m leaving is money. Sure, NHS Digital is merging with NHS England which will create some kerfuffle, but the subsequent transformation it’ll go through is a good thing. And the Data Services directorate is a super interesting product & design space! But my five-year plan needs capital, so I’ve got to earn it.