NSW Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages (BDM) was the first agency to transition to nsw.gov.au. Tim Maund co-located with the nsw.gov.au Program team to deliver the new site. In this guest post, he talks about his experience.
BDM recently joined the Department of Customer Service cluster and it seemed fitting that our longstanding website was to be the first to transition to nsw.gov.au. A part of the nsw.gov.au Program, over 500 NSW Government websites are to be integrated, making it easier for customers to find the information they’re looking for in a central location.
My tenure at BDM expands over 10 years, with my current role as Acting Workforce Planner in the Operations Division. This means I have a pretty good view of all the processes and ins and outs of BDM operations and the level of commitment we have to our customers.
Moving in with the team
I joined a small working group of BDM staff as the subject matter experts (SME), who were tasked with working with the nsw.gov.au Program team to deliver the new website. It was nice to be recognised for my breadth of knowledge and experience of the organisation. What I perhaps didn’t expect, was to physically join the Program team on a full-time basis, cohabiting with them in their office. Cohabiting is the practice of moving away from your day-to-day role and moving into the workspace of the project team. This way of working has many advantages:
- Being available to respond immediately to any information or changes, meaning a shorter delivery timeline.
- Delivering solutions or compromises that meet the objectives of BDM and the Program.
- A familiar and trusted voice when implementing changes and requesting approvals from BDM.
- Overall, being able to deliver the best possible website, with my in-depth knowledge of BDM’s products, services and its customers.
At first, it was a little daunting as I was going out of my comfort zone and working with a new team. But it was surprisingly easy to adapt. I’d recommend the cohabiting model to any agencies consolidating in the future.
In the past, my experience with project management was quite rigid. Elements were set in stone months in advance, meaning little flexibility to adapt or alter goals.
This project team was run using an agile approach to delivery. The whole project was broken into small sections called sprints which made things feel a little less overwhelming. This was my first time using this method. It was a positive experience for me; working this way was fluid and allowed for learnings to be continually canvassed – meaning they could be implemented immediately or at a later stage throughout the project. It felt constructive to feel the continuous improvements.
Pearls of wisdom
If you’re the SME in the team, you need to have a broad knowledge of your organisation’s products and services; an understanding of what customers are seeking when visiting its website and who are the right people to contact within your organisation should you need an approval or clarification of information. It’s a responsibility that’s shared across the team, with some members being more specialised or knowledgeable about different areas of the business.
Whilst a new, updated website was exciting, BDM were used to having a standalone site for many years, meaning we had free reign over the look and feel, as well as the freedom of creating pages and content as we saw fit. Moving away from this independent site and selling in the idea of consolidating into nsw.gov.au had its challenges. It was also a process to decide and agree on which content was most relevant and carried over, but we got there in the end! For agencies used to having standalone websites, it may feel like you are losing control of your content. However, that’s not the case. The Digital Channels team will work closely and collaboratively with you to ensure that the right information is presented, and you will retain edit access over any pages related to your agency.
It’s a wrap
The project is now wrapped and we’re all proud of where it’s landed. I’ve had the opportunity to get out of my normal day job, worked with a new team and have even picked up some new experience with web design principles and the Drupal content management system. I’d like to thank the team members I worked with: Orkun, Rachel, Jen, Dan, Viola and Maria. I’d also like to give a shout to the scrum master Paul Chan who made me feel part of the team from day one.
Have you considered what it would be like to ‘move in’ with another team? Share your thoughts and experiences below.