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“fixin’ to get ready”

Nic Harrison - Director of Enabling Digital Delivery
Nic Harrison - Director of Enabling Digital Delivery

I’m Nic Harrison, the Director of Enabling Digital Delivery, part of DWP’s Business Transformation Group. I’ve been with the department for a year, working with Kevin Cunnington to put in place the organisation and plans needed to deliver a once in a lifetime transformation for our citizens, third party partners and staff.

I used to live in Dallas, Texas where there is a good ‘ole boy saying: “fixin’ to get ready”. This means doing all the necessary preparation before a big task can start. I really feel 2014 was about “fixin’ to get ready” for the huge year we have in front of us in 2015. Last year we put in place Digital Academies to train our staff, we recruited a number of specialists to provide leadership and guidance in new technology and techniques (take a bow Ben Holliday, my colleague and Head of User Experience) and we worked with the change programmes to ensure consistency and promote re-use across the department. In short, we put in place the foundations on which to build the new DWP.

The enabling part of Enabling Digital Delivery is about making sure we have robust designs that deliver great, user centred services. This is often more about the parts of a service that cannot be delivered with technology than the parts that can be. Really good design puts human intervention where it is needed and valuable and it automates whenever we can do that safely and securely. That’s why we look at user journeys and test and learn around real user experiences.

However when we can automate, we need first class 21C technology to support us. That’s why I am delighted we have our new Director General for Technology, Mayank Prakash,  in the department. We are already drawing on expertise from the Chief Technology Office domain architecture function in order to understand the “art of the possible” from our current and future IT estate. I am sure that Mayank’s vision for the department’s technology will bring new and exciting opportunities to leverage technology and deliver innovative services. After “fixin to get ready” last year, we are now really getting going with the momentous task of transforming DWP together.

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  1. Comment by Jon Ayre (CTO Dept for Work and Pensions) posted on

    I set up the domain architecture team in anticipation of the work you are doing (a build it and they will come philosophy). It's great to see the work this excellent team has done proving useful in the future thinking work that is being done across the Department. It's also great to see the organisation acting in such a joined up, collaborative and transformational way.

    This is proving to be a very energizing journey.

    Jon Ayre

  2. Comment by Doug posted on

    Having been at the sharp end of dwp user front end technology then there is still so much to do , the words siebel springs to mind , tcip phone shambles , enquire all seem to be a litany of badly executed poorly designed and unbelievably badly defended expensive programmes, even now the platforms are Shakey lagging and full of faults

  3. Comment by Doug posted on

    In fact you need to come to operations front line to see the mess that is the it

  4. Comment by Nic Harrison posted on

    Doug - firstly let me say I have visited the Operations front line to see the day to day reality for myself. There clearly are lots of challenges with the current estate and our IT colleagues are working hard with the OED team to try and incrementally improve it. The purpose of Service Design within the Business Transformation Group is to try to avoid building silo'd IT solutions in the future, by designing services rather than technology. This re-alignment of purpose will take time and you are quite right there is a great deal to do but we have started the journey and I hope you will see the positive change over the coming months and years.


  5. Comment by Emmanuel posted on

    Hi Nic,

    We are very keen to see a web-service that allows us to check people's DLA entitlement automatically so that we can offer them the services they are entitled to, much more quickly than we are at the moment.

    I understand there are privacy and data-sharing obstacles in the way but I have also been led to believe there is something available now? Can you confirm this or send me some details please?

    Kind regards,