It’s hard to believe it’s already February. For our Button teams in Victoria, B.C., this is the time of year when we shake off our “grueling” one week of snow, where roads are impassable and summer tires are abundant (hence making the roads impassable). Our other team members in Montreal and across Canada look amused in our virtual meetings at their West Coaster colleagues’ struggles, as they themselves hunker down for a couple more months of (real) winter.
For our public-sector clients, now is often one of the more hectic times of year: preparing for estimates, planning for the next fiscal year, and ramping up for the upcoming election cycle. Mandates abound, and budgets are still fuzzy.
It is also a great time to take a deep breath, reset, and plan to nail your goals in the new year.
Groundhog Day was on February 2, and the benevolent little beast predicted an early spring. While we patiently wait for the sun and warmth hopefully on its way, here are four quick tips to make the most of the time between now and your end of fiscal.
1. Design focus, design first
Before you plan budgets for big investments, consider smaller design sprints that can help you scope, test and outline your work before you start. Not only is this a great way to connect with your users, stakeholders, and executive sponsors, but it provides living artifacts—user journeys, roadmaps, and prototypes that can accelerate larger projects once they start.
Most importantly, this type of work lets you make your budget go further by looking before you leap. Identifying your risks, pain points, and opportunities so you can better advocate for budgets, procure for the right team, and manage your executive’s expectations.
If you have legacy systems and are focusing on modernization, design work is complemented well by a technical architecture to help you identify the art of the possible moving forward.
2. Speaking of the art of the possible, let’s talk about those legacy systems
Identify what to reuse, repurpose and keep. Think of it as a way to “Marie Kondo” your legacy system by asking “which parts bring me joy?”
Maybe they just need a better front end to amplify user experience. Which parts are legacy quagmires and need a rethink as a way to modernization? Don’t be afraid to bring in a technical architect from the outside to assess what you’re currently working with, and help you estimate costs ranging from keeping the status quo, minor modernization, and a total overhaul. Look for modern technologies that maximize your existing legacy investment.
3. Reconnect with your users
If you feel like you have a big internal improvement backlog, but are budget-conscious, never be afraid take a short pause and go back to your core focus. Start by making sure you’ve properly identified your user personas and mapped out your user journeys. Then take features that you’ve recently developed, and have your team do a quick round of user-testing among different segments, then integrate the user feedback in upcoming sprints.
If you haven’t updated your roadmap in a while, integrate your learnings to make sure you are shaking off the dust from previous development cycles and reconnecting with your refreshed purpose. Use that new-year energy to realign goals and make sure you’re on track to hit your mandates.
4. Stand up, stretch and look around the ecosystem
If you’re starting the new year with a new project, or trying to breathe life into an old one, take a stretch and look at others in your ecosystem who might have similar projects.
Then, have a short chat with someone else in your organization who might be facing similar challenges. Outside of your co-workers, look on LinkedIn for someone who might be able to share best practices from other jurisdictions and industries and ask if they want to have a virtual coffee.
Prefer IRL? Find an event in your area that focuses on your area of interest, or read a book (or start a book club with your team) that will broaden your perspective on your work.
The Button team finds that continuous learning and making connections amplifies our energy and helps us excel at what we do. It’s also a great trick for getting out of a rut when we’ve been working on something for a long time without taking breaks.
Treat it as the professional self care that it is.
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