This week was a very busy one for me – Scoping the work we need to do in order to meet the accessibility requirement for public sector bodies has shown that there is still quite a lot to do before the deadline so I mostly focused on GOV.UK accessibility this week.
What went well
I spent a good chunk of the week working with Craig, our delivery manager and Marian, our content designer. We worked out a framework for exploring each accessibility problem we encounter and created a huge spreadsheet of the problem areas we already know about to understand what stage each one is at.
For each problem, we have to work out if it’s a single instance and find other instances of that problem, figure out the cause of the problem as there’s usually more than one cause (a mix of human errors or how we’ve designed a thing), determine how to fix it, determine if that fix will fix all instances or if someone needs to fix historical occurrence manually. If manual fixes are needed, we need to work out which departments are affected, update guidance and tell them what to do.
It is a lot to do in 7 weeks but we made good progress this week working out where each problem is in that flow and figuring out what we need to do next. This clarity helps us make several key decisions, like reduce our original scope and ask for some more people in the team.
We had a chat with the head of product to talk about the state of things and our needs. We also had a once a month check-in with the senior management team for GOV.UK to talk about our progress so far and what we’ll do over the next few weeks. Both conversations went well.
There’s still an ongoing audit but I started reviewing the results anyway and I’ve identified some new themes that have been added to our big list. We’ll spend some time next week seeing if we can prioritise them to make sure we are doubling down on the highest impact ones first.
I had a session with the accessibility experts to think about how to deal with the accessibility of attachments (documents) on GOV.UK and we were able to work out the next steps including updating the available guidance and talking to departments about what to do.
I also worked with Craig to visualise our plan in a bit more detail, with so much happening, a delivery plan from now till end of september has been helpful to ensure we don’t have too much going on for the people on the team.
On the replatforming team, the main thing I did this week was work with our user researcher Natalie and the team to review the lessons we learned from past migrations to determine ‘so what?’ and what actions we should take. Some of the key things are about stakeholder communications – ensuring our recommendations about a new platform choice and migration approach are as clear as possible especially when it comes to risks and benefits of all the options as well as carrying them along as we make key decisions. We may also do an even over session and a premortem to work through some of these things.
What could be better
Even though I didn’t spend a lot of time on replatforming this week, I struggled a bit.
Being a product manager on a very technical team like one exploring Infrastructure can be a steep learning curve, it’s like a huge technical spike and the dynamics can feel different. I had a chat with Emily, who is the lead product manager for technical operations and that conversation helped me reflect and put things in perspective.
In hindsight, the team and I are doing all the right things and on the right track. She suggested a few things that I’ll do, for example: looking sideways to see how things are done elsewhere in the relevant industry. I realise this is something I don’t do enough in general so I’ll do that more.
In other news
The Introduction to Product Management course on futurelearn starts on the 10th of August so I spent some time reviewing part of the course.
Some of the Product Managers working on GOV.UK products that focus on the platform, presentation and publishing met to start thinking about how we can work together more closely, solve persistent problems and proactively plan the future. I’m so excited that we are doing this now!
At the GOV.UK product managers community meeting, we learnt about all the things you can do with the GOV.UK browser extension which is super cool and let’s you figure out how some of the pages are structured and even do a quick design. I didn’t know about some of it before so that was useful. We also did a quick product clinic.
This weekend has been hard, I used the fan a lot on friday because it’s really hot and now I have a cold, ugh. I almost missed this weeknote because I feel like crap today so yay for consistency.
Thank you for reading. Here’s to hoping the new week is sane.