Blog by Laura Brown, Social Media Manager at Registers of Scotland.
Tom Meade is currently the digital director at the Registers of Scotland (RoS). Previously he worked at the Student Loans Company and The Scottish Government before coming to RoS in September 2014.
When he started, there ‘had been a high turnover of senior IT management… but a real determination to do something positive.’ The ‘reality’ for Tom and his team was a challenge. ‘It took us 3 days’ downtime to complete a release, which is a hell of a lot of money.’
Tom reflects on the 2014 stats – it cost us more than £25,000 to complete a release, there was more than 2 weeks’ downtime on non-planned internal registration and only 30% of calls resolved by the service desk.
‘You need stable operating environments, an easy release process to enable Agile development… If your guys are run off their feet, you’re never going to get anywhere.’ And that’s where Agile came in. Instead of continuing with the ITIL best-practice approach to IT operations, Tom switched things up.
Kanban boards ‘went down like a deflated balloon’
One change was the introduction of physical Kanban boards throughout IT operations. ‘At the start it went down… well, not like a lead balloon, but like a deflated balloon that never took off.’ Tom brought in two Agile coaches to work with the teams, but even that didn’t improve the poor feedback he received about the Kanban boards.
‘But what started to happen is that we slowed things down and got more done. We finished work. We limited the work in process (WIP)… and we could do a lot more with the same number of people.’ This view of tasks written on physical tickets helped the team to understand their workload and processes, and to achieve and sustain their workflow.
‘Lean emphasises agility and speed’
Along with the Kanban boards, Tom also introduced techniques like ‘value stream mapping’ processes and 5 S – ‘sort, set in order, shine, standardise and sustain’ and placed importance on Lean / Agile principles.
‘We’re moving very fast, so we need to be able to respond to change very quickly’
By encouraging and successfully moving his team towards an Agile working environment, Tom has largely met the challenges he encountered when he came to the RoS. Internal registration downtime has reduced from 110 hours to just 20, costs have fallen from £25,000 to £500 and 70% of calls are now resolved by the service desk (as opposed to 30% back in 2014).
Now, the RoS IT ops, support a development capacity that’s five times the size. For an organisation that traces its roots right back to the thirteenth century, this embracing of Agile working methods is fast-forwarding it to the future.