No panic at the Disco…

Well that was Disco(very)! It doesn’t seem 5 minutes since we kicked this off in early February with our Discovery partner ( but time has certainly flown by. The overall sense within the team is one of excitement about being able to develop the future service and it’s a really great opportunity to make an impact and really improve the NHS Jobs service. There is the odd sprinkling of awe along the way as the scale of what we have to do occasionally dawns on people, but that just keeps things interesting.

We finished Discovery at the end of April and we are now moving into Alpha which will last for around 5 months. For anyone who wants a reminder or isn’t familiar with the different stages of an agile project are please click here:

Over our 10 week Discovery some of the activity we have undertaken included:

  • Completed 35+ qualitative research sessions, including those with specific Access Needs
  • Received over 1350 survey responses to our online survey
  • Researched the technology options and approach with a view to identify the future target architecture
  • Identified over 200 potential features that were a combination of fixing current pain points, to features aligned to new user needs
  • Identified an end to end aspirational journey
  • Created a Target Operating Model (TOM) and Strategic Outline Case (SOC) for the future NHS Jobs service

We identified and collated a number of user needs across the wide customer base from applicants right up to recruitment services but there is a clear theme that ‘one size doesn’t fit all’ and that greater and more flexible configuration needs to be at the heart of the future service.

Throughout Discovery there were loads of learnings and some things that really went well and a few things we tweaked as we went. However the one over-riding learning that we have taken away is that we need to ensure that everything we do meets user needs. This may sound obvious to those who have been involved in these type of projects however there were times where we found that we had drifted from this. After around a month of Discovery we had a session to share some of the future options and we got some really great challenges around where was the link to user needs…? It was there for some but not all and our ambition to create something amazing had the potential to not align us with what our users actually need… Let’s not create a white elephant… or as one colleague put it ‘you could end up building the Death Star’ (and we all know what happened to that…twice).

This learning and challenge really resonated with me as I don’t know about you but I’m the type who walks into Curry’s (other high street stores are available) and is super impressed by all the new tech on the TVs and think I need it - but when I actually get it home I never use the bells and whistles at all. So taking this into the NHS Jobs world we have as a team really focused on linking everything we do to user needs.

 At the end of Discovery we shared our TOM, including the target architecture, at a session arranged by Tech UK ( attended by cross section of industry experts, suppliers, and people involved in recruitment. There was a general consensus that our approach is sensible and we also picked up some great suggestions and considerations to take forward, so the session was useful.

We’ve just started Alpha and this phase will be key to a successful service design and delivery. The team is expanding, and we are looking forward to on-boarding our new team members.

This is what we will do in Alpha:

  • We will be able to walk users through a full user journey from raising a role to a signed contract using a ‘working’ system with limited functionality
  • We will have validated our thinking with users
  • We will validate configuration feasibility - testing if our approach is technically viable, manageable and cost-effective - have a more educated view of the overall service model
  • We will have a Beta plan, an updated TOM and have updated the SOC into an Outline Business Case (OBC)
  • We will have passed Government Digital Service's Alpha assessment

I hope you found this interesting and apologies for the lame Star Wars reference… look out for more blogs from the team.