Long distance delivery

James Macrae, director of professional services|Peppermint Technology

James Macrae, director of professional services at Peppermint, reflects on lessons he learned needing to kickstart a recent strategic IT project remotely.

As we reached the end of the fifth week of lockdown I found myself reflecting on the way everyone I’ve spoken to appears to have largely adapted to this strange situation as best they could. As a cloud software business, we are extremely fortunate our team can readily work from home – so our thoughts are naturally with those continuing to go out to work to care for us all.

But I’m also aware of how my colleagues have found new ways to keep the wheels turning with, in some cases, adaptations that were intended to be short-term workarounds proving to be a more effective way of working. This was brought into sharp relief for me as, just before the start of the formal lockdown, Peppermint was about to kick off a project under a strategic programme of work for top-tier law firm Irwin Mitchell.

We had agreed the scope and approach and were about to embark upon the initial roundtable, all-stakeholder kickoff meeting when the Covid-19 lockdown struck. The original plan for the first half of the day was for the Irwin Mitchell team to walk us through the requirements-gathering and customer journeys they had collected to date. Now, unless the entire programme was to be stalled, we had to find a way to initiate the project and bring the combined team up to speed without being in the same room.

Now imagine a 15ft x 5ft wall of Post-it notes. The Irwin Mitchell team had already shared some good photos with us, but zooming in to read the script on one note left you ‘lost’ in terms of where they were on the whole map. This is the kind of thing you want to be able to stand back from to get perspective and context and lean into for detail. I confess I had serious doubts about whether a remote session was going to work.
Come the day of the workshop, we had the inevitable challenges of getting the presentation laptop to display the correct window at the right time. And while these issues were fixed well before the start of the session, they subconsciously added to my nervousness.

But then the meeting got underway and, after the normal round of introductions and expectation-setting, we switched screen sharing across to the senior UX designer, who would be leading us through the customer journey, and it was nothing short of brilliant.

The person leading us through knew the material inside out. He explained the process Irwin Mitchell had gone through to gather the feedback, the structure of the layout, colour coding and shorthand references – and then stepped us through topic by topic, checking understanding as we went. Everyone on the call participated and remained engaged.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure nothing compares to being in the room when feedback like this is initially voiced, captured and stuck up on the wall, but we came away with a really solid understanding and a clear way forward.

Read the full feature in Briefing May – It’s the screen team, here.


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