Work shadowing: a chance to understand, time to learn

By Liz Connick, Senior Information Officer, Buckinghamshire Family Information Service

Everybody’s talking Digital Transformation and here in Buckinghamshire County Council that may mean different things to different people. In order to gain experience and insight I spent a couple of days work shadowing Matthew Cain and his Team at Digital HQ so that I can learn and develop within my current role as Senior Information Officer for the Buckinghamshire Family Information Service.

Day One: As Head of Digital, Matthew is leading the Council transformation to be digital first, driving the day to day digital strategy and working across a wide variety of disciplines – social, content and technology. This involves engagement with colleagues across all levels which entails a regular plethora of meetings, several of which I attended with Matthew today. This really brought home to me the breadth of Matthew and his teams involvement in a wide variety of projects across the entire council and how as one organisation we have a complex spider’s web of systems, software and processes to navigate.

What became evident is that as Head of Digital you need a broad understanding of technicalities, the ability to focus colleagues on the customer experience or ‘customer journey’, a good understanding of what will work then the ability to translate, design and build. You also need great communication skills to be able to talk to people at all levels of the organisation who have different levels of digital literacy and expectations.

Day Two: Today, I spent some time with the Digital Team, Colin and Becky, Digital Content Officers and who both have 12 plus years’ experience with the Council. They talked me through their key projects they are working on, for example, Maintain My Street, Find My Child a School Place, Complaints and Freedom of Information (FOI) requests and Firmstep.-In the afternoon, I attended a workshop with representatives’ from User Zoom, a Customer and User Experience Research and Analytics Platform which the Digital Team will be using in the forthcoming year. I also had the opportunity to meet Sarah (Digital Content Officer) and Millie (Intern) and team Liz

After the end of two very interesting days with the digital team what do I understand about the words ‘Digital Transformation’?

I understand it to be the process for shifting Buckinghamshire County Council to new ways of working and thinking by the use of digital, social, mobile and emerging technologies. This involves the need for us all to think differently, adapt and change our service models and look at how we can increase the use of technology to improve the experience of our internal and external customers i.e. employees, customers, suppliers, partners and stakeholders.

What is the key learning point that I will take away with me after these two days with the Digital Team?

The key to creating service value is to focus on customer value. Truly understanding the needs and preferences of our customers, as well as their behaviour and attitudes ‘the customer journey’, is essential for service strategy.

Thank you to Matthew and his team. I still think that our Head of Digital is an off spring of Duncan Bannatyne! Though I didn’t share this information with him on my visit …
Duncan Ballantyne


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