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From the Private Sector to the Skills Funding Agency: 3 Months in

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Agile, Citizen digital service, Jobs and careers


SFA Offices

Back in March, I took the plunge of applying for a job within the Skills Funding Agency as a Product Manager. I'd worked previously at a FTSE 100 company, looking after their websites. Now I’m a Civil Servant I no longer have to focus on profit margins, but need to look at saving costs and making efficiencies to give taxpayers the best value for money.

This is a challenge, but one which comes with the fulfilment of doing something which contributes to the economy as a whole. You can leave the office with a smile knowing you have done something for the greater good.

How we work

agile wordartI’m part of the Citizen Digital Service team – we build and manage digital services which help people to use, develop or change their skills.

We work in an agile way with daily stand ups, fortnightly sprints, backlog planning sessions, retrospectives, and the all-important show and tells.

A great part of being in this team is that we all sit together in one room, so there’s no need to write masses of emails or set up lots of meetings.  It’s a really easy-going environment where we shape the service.

In the team we have a:

  • Business Analyst
  • Content Designer
  • Content Manager
  • Delivery Manager
  • Designer
  • Lead Developer
  • Performance Analyst
  • Product Manager
  • Project Support
  • Service Manager
  • Technical Architect
  • Web Operations Analyst

Starting with user needs

ncs to govukI’m Product Manager for the National Careers Service (NCS) website. The site provides users with information, advice and guidance to help them make decisions on learning, training and work opportunities. I look after the site both from a business-as-usual perspective, and its transformation and move to GOV.UK. We’re transforming the current glossy website into a functional service which is completely focused on meeting users’ needs.

How do we know that this is what we need to do for users? We conducted seven different types of user research with over 164 primary and intermediary users. This helped us to understand what users want from the service, and how they think we could make it better.

Armed with this information, we have been prototyping the new service for several weeks, making changes as we go along to ensure that everything we do is completely focused on user needs.

We are now approaching the end of our alpha stage, and have created a sprint-by-sprint plan of what needs to be delivered in the beta stage up until April 2016. In the meantime, we are working on the triage steps - looking at how users arrive at our site and how, once there, we can get them to the information they need as quickly as possible. We want to be able to tailor a user's  journey based on their needs.

I’ll continue to keep you updated on where we are in our journey, and what else we have been looking into.

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  1. Comment by Julie posted on

    Great post Parvesh although"Really easy going" doesn't quite encompass the energy and hard work I witnessed!

    • Replies to Julie>

      Comment by Parvesh posted on

      Thanks Julie. Agree that there is lots of hard work going on within the business to achieve the goals.