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Employee stories: Focus on what's important with automation

Delivery Director Oliver Cook on life at Foundry4, and how automation helps teams focus on their most important tasks

I’ve been with Foundry4 for over two and half years now, and I'm still very much enjoying working here. I start with this statement because it’s somewhat surprising to me as I’ve not spent longer than 2 years anywhere else, in fact it’s usually 18 months.

Some of this is down to the fact I’ve moved locations a lot, first within Australia and then to the UK, and some of it has been down to working out what I want to do.

This blog is about why I joined Foundry4 and, in particular, why I wanted to get into Intelligent Automation. However, before I do that I think some context is useful so next up is a, hopefully, not too painful LinkedIn summary…

Creating a user-centred approach to policy in the public sector

I’ve spent most of my career in the public sector.

I started working for the government in my home state in Australia, Western Australia, before moving on to work in Canberra for various departments in the Federal government. In the UK, I’ve worked in Parliament for an MP and at the Greater London Authority (GLA).

In most of these roles I was working on public policy in economic portfolios, particularly energy and climate change subject matter areas. I am also interested in different approaches and methodologies to developing policy, so I spent some time getting across both design thinking and agile to see if a more ‘user-centred’ approach could be applied to policy development.

I was fortunate enough to put this into practice via DesignGov, a collaboration between the Australian Government and the Australian National University.

However, the UK was further along with things like digital transformation and applying agile ways of working in the public sector via the Government Digital Service (GDS). So, when I came to the UK I wanted to get some experience in this area which I did when I joined the GLA digital team.

From government, to the other side...

Having worked in government my entire career I wanted to see what life was like on the other side. I especially wanted to get more direct hands-on experience with digital product delivery and agile ways of working through specific software development. I was also increasingly interested in Robotic Process Automation (RPA) which was an emerging piece of technology in the Public Sector.

How RPA can help digital transformation projects succeed

My initial interest in RPA lay in my experience with digital transformation projects in the public sector.

These projects always started with the best of intentions and with teams of smart, committed people who wanted to make a difference. However, digital transformation can take a long time, it’s a timescale of years rather than months, because it’s mostly about culture change rather than technology.

These projects usually start with backing from the senior leadership team and a core team that is made up of people working across multiple projects or programmes. I found that the team and project sponsors would typically change after about 12-18 months, leading to the project either losing momentum overall, or having its scope regularly altered to keep up with rapidly changing priorities.

This would often lead to the project either being wound up - with staff moved to new initiatives - or losing its original level of ambition.

I felt that RPA could help with this problem by quickly automating repetitive, mundane tasks that increasingly take up people’s time, so they could work exclusively on process redesign or other change focused processes.

This early hypothesis has been proven as we’re able to deliver most RPA within 6-8 weeks, enabling staff to focus on other things, and providing management with more flexibility in their business teams.

Check out some of our case studies to see how we’ve helped numerous organisations realise time savings for their staff that can be translated into process redesign.

The best bits about working for Foundry4

In late 2020, early 2021, human+ joined with other companies in The Panoply to become Foundry4. This felt like a natural progression for human+ as start ups generally need to scale if they’re going to survive. It also meant we could take on much larger projects and expand our team so we could increase our impact.

I’m really happy that we did this as it means I’ve been able to work with more great people and learn from their experiences. On a personal level it’s also meant far more career opportunities as we’ve grown.

I joined human+ in 2019 as a Business Analyst come "jack of all trades" and I’m now the Delivery Director for our delivery team. The opportunities have certainly been there for me and we’re now working hard to develop a more defined and structured career pathway for everyone who works at Foundry4, as we transition to becoming TPXimpact.

The aim is to provide everyone with a transparent and clear progression pathway that’s well matched to our Performance Management framework, to enable them to achieve their goals while helping us to retain great people. We do this by providing everyone with clearly defined roles and responsibilities through job descriptions that also include the skills required at each level.

However, this is very much a guide so that we don’t become too rigid, and the focus remains very much on each individual team member.

Helping our clients focus on what's important

What keeps me at Foundry4 is simply the amazing people I get to work with on a daily basis, who are motivated to make things better, intellectually curious and very experienced in getting things done.

I certainly consider myself very fortunate to work with such a great group of people as well as being able to work on interesting projects that are trying to solve challenging problems.

Over the past two and half years I’ve worked on a wide range of projects, helping public sector organisations like NHS England, local authorities, housing associations and universities to improve the way they do things so that their customers can enjoy better services and their staff can be more focused on what’s important.

Join us!

There are too many examples of our work to list here, though some have been covered in other blogs.

If you’d like to know more or you’re interested in joining our amazing team then please reach out to me on Twitter, LinkedIn, or check out the careers section of our website.


Author

Oliver cook
Oliver Cook
Delivery Director
Foundry4

Oliver has extensive experience implementing intelligent automation, agile and user-centred design methods to improve services and enhance citizen engagement.

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