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Weeknote 28 September - 2 October 2020

4 min read

On back-office systems, exciting administration and Black Voices Cornwall.


Most of this week was taken up with work on our big, back office systems (these help us manage things like finance, workforce and procurement). New, public-cloud versions of these systems were launched back in April - pretty impressive given that COVID-19 hit just as the final preparations were being made. The teams are moving the last few processes and departments over to the new systems and then we can get on with the next big tasks.

One task is to turn off the old versions of the systems but keep any critical data. Regulations require that we keep some of the data for years and even more is needed for 6 - 18 months for routine operations.

The other big task is to make the shift from a project organisation to a product organisation. Projects are, by definition, temporary. We know these new systems will eventually be replaced too but, for most practical purposes, they are now a permanent part of the organisation. We need to make maintaining and improving them part of our normal routines.


Our Team Bumblebee session overran this week as we were talking about a new idea which will make it easier to keep track of all of our work. This should have been a really short, dull conversation about administration but lots of us find this difficult and confusing. Like many councils, we have the staff and budget of a medium sized business but the breadth of products and services that you would only find in a big conglomerate. Some great ideas were suggested to help us manage this without distracting our teams from getting things done for residents and our other users.


Work on our back office systems will take up the bulk of my time over the coming months. Other things on my mind are:

  • Helping the website team sort out our future production infrastructure so they can complete the development work on something similar.
  • Helping one of our infrastructure teams move beyond some of the basic agile practices and become agile in all aspects of their work.
  • Running a local pilot of the course I have been working on with a cross-government group. This is a self managed way to learn about developing great digital public services.
  • Running through a basic coding course so I can coach at a future codebar event[1].

Next week I’ll try to join in some of the the Local Gov Camp[2] sessions and watch some lightning talks[3] to get ideas for a homemade Xmas display.


I had a really good catch up with a couple of people from our Equality and Inclusion team. We discussed what allies could be doing for our Employee Support Forums and how to encourage them. Allies are already contributing to some of the forums but we could probably use many more, if that is what forum members want.

I watched the virtual launch party for Black Voices Cornwall[4] which was a fabulous antidote to a lot of the negativity in the news and on social media. The presenters did not gloss over any of the issues raised but I think their creative, positive and collaborative response sets a great example. Their first campaign[5], to provide support for schools during Black History Month[6], has hit its funding target and it will be great to see where this new organisation goes next.


  1. More about codebar. They are on the look out for more coaches. ↩︎

  2. LocalGovCamp2020 ↩︎

  3. I’ve not joined in the PrestonRJam talks before so I not really sure what to expect. ↩︎

  4. Black Voices Cornwall ↩︎

  5. Bitesize Black History campaign ↩︎

  6. Black History Month runs throughout October in the UK. ↩︎

Originally published on by Richard Barton