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Reflections on a year of rising to the challenge

Emma Murray portrait photo

For the last 2 years I’ve been an infrastructure engineer business analyst, working on one of the departments key enterprise tools that serves over 90,000 users.

I joined DWP in 1992 working on the benefit Income Support, when the department started to embrace new technologies I took the opportunity to get involved. I was supported to complete an NVQ in IT and I went on to study for a degree in the Science of Computing.

Not only did I enjoy learning about and using IT, but I was actually quite good at it. I grabbed every opportunity to progress my career down the technology route. I really enjoy understanding how exploiting new technologies can improve services for both colleagues and customers. I’ve since spent the last 20 years working in various roles within what has become DWP Digital.

In DWP Digital we are constantly challenged to provide the best user-centred services in an ever changing technology landscape and that is something that I thrive on.

Delivering the TechNow Service Portal

Last year I really challenged myself when I played a key role in the delivery of our new TechNow Service Portal. This was a self-service portal that enables users to access our core service management tool. All colleagues have access to the portal via their desktop to raise IT incidents and queries. As well as finding help and guidance on a wide range of technology related subjects.

The new user interface enabled colleagues to access new features and functionality that our existing technology couldn’t take advantage of. For example, moving from using Jelly (a Java and XML based scripting and processing engine for turning XML into executable code) to Angular JS (a Typescript-based open-source web application framework) which provides a more enriched user experience with mobile compatible features and advanced chat capability.

One of my responsibilities was to map the baseline requirements to our agile service delivery lifecycle, including sprint and release to ring fence resources. Being such a complex, large scale initiative it was a demanding environment which focused on customer experience. I had to fully understand the needs of the project, stakeholders and colleagues before any user stories could be defined.

This was no small task. There was a number of dependencies that needed to be factored into the development, for example updated browsers. And, the existing chat service was out of support. It was a steep learning curve.

It was vital that functionality and features were piloted throughout the development lifecycle so that we could ensure that we were putting the user at the heart of the design.

To pilot the service, we had to keep the old and new interface running at the same time. This meant we needed to remediate hundreds of catalogue items, knowledge articles and notifications so that they could support both versions of the interface portal concurrently.

My role, as technical business analyst, was to represent the service management platform. To do this I worked collaboratively with a project team of user experience specialists including user researchers, interaction designers, content designers and delivery managers. This enabled me to have a full picture of the overall process and helped me to explain the reasoning and value of the design decisions to the developers and architects. By doing this I was able to predict and understand the limits of the platform against the value of the design to ensure that we delivered the best possible solution.

I felt extremely proud when we delivered the new interface to users. It was introduced iteratively with increasing features and user numbers until finally we had delivered a fully functioning portal across DWP in December 2019.

What I enjoy the most about my job is understanding new technologies and working out how they can be used to help manage and deliver our services to our users.

Can you rise to the challenge?

Why not visit our careers website to see our current vacancies.

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