Moving on from the GLA

03 May 2019

David Durant, Senior Business Analyst, gives his account about working at the GLA.

After 21 months as Senior Business Analyst in the GLA Digital team I’ve decided that it’s time to move on to the next step in my career. I’m not going too far though - I’m staying in London local government, taking on a role of Senior Delivery Manager at the London Borough of Hackney.

I joined the GLA in August 2017 as I had been really impressed by the work that Natalie Taylor had done after she moved there from GDS to set up the new Digital team. I started on the same day as the new Product Manager for the Mayor’s website, London.gov.uk, and another BA who I would be line managing. The three of us joined a team that already had a strong content design element and was working closely with the GLA Technology Group (IT department) for the delivery of digital projects, and in introducing Agile ways of working.

After a few months Natalie moved on and Martin Chaney joined the GLA as Senior Manager - Digital Transformation for the organisation. Martin’s been instrumental in directing the GLA towards its wider transformational journey, including putting together a new internal group that’s just starting to investigate how user centred policy design could be undertaken at the GLA - following on from great work being done in the Cabinet Office, Department for Education and the Ministry of Justice. In addition I’ve been very pleased to see new GLA Chief Officer Mary Harpley is in the process of putting together a dedicated Transformation team which will cover a number of areas including those highlighted by a report Martin commissioned from the Local Government Association.

In my time at the GLA I have helped deliver a number of services for Londoners, including a way for people who require different levels of accessibility in their housing to find places they may be able to live to the brand new revamp of the Team London volunteering website (opening very soon).

One of the great things that has happened in the local government digital space in the last few years has been the creation of the Local Digital team at MHCLG. The group has been very active, producing the Local Digital Declaration and MHCLG Digital Fund in their first year. I’m happy to say that the GLA was a founding signatory of the Declaration and a grant from the Fund has been used to help projects that are part of the fast evolving “plantech” digital ecosystem.

A key part of the Declaration is a commitment from organisations to review their digital services using the Local Government Digital Service Standard. This is something that the GLA has been doing for some time. During my time in the Digital team I have organised and participated in nine Service Standard reviews, both as a panelist, including for GLA-Ops, and as part of the team being reviewed. The GLA is committed to continuing to review all future digital services this way as well as supporting other London local authorities to do the same.

As well as adopting the Declaration the GLA has been actively supporting the work of other London local authorities for some time via membership of Local Gov Digital. Part of that has involved running a number of London Peer Group sessions here at City Hall to introduce representatives from local authorities to each other in order to discuss common issues and opportunities with a focus on the Service Standard. I’ve very much enjoyed organising and moderating these meetups and am keen to continue doing so in the future.

As well as the project work I’ve been involved in on behalf of Londoners and supporting other London local authorities with their own digital transformations, I’ve also been fortunate to have been able to line manage three other members of the Digital team. I started at the same time as Oliver Cook who joined the GLA as a Business Analyst. Oliver’s background was as a political economist in the Australian government so it was a joy to see him really enthusiastically build his digital skills while providing vital support to many policy teams in the GLA delivering important services. I’ve also been the line manager for Faheem Ahmed who is one of the GLA’s digital apprentices. Faheem is in the final year of his apprenticeship in project management. It’s been great to see him steadily taking on more responsibility and I’m very much looking forward to finding out how his career develops. Finally, one of my favourite achievements during my time at the GLA has been managing Dr Nick Fine as a consultant providing valuable user research and digital design experience to the team. Nick recently ran a packed lunchtime learning presentation on the importance of user research.

Despite my time at the GLA coming to an end I’m sure I’ll still be visiting City Hall as part of the London Peer Group for Local Gov Digital, as well as inviting my ex-colleagues to visit Hackney. I’m looking forward to finding out how all the great things we’ve laid the groundwork for progress.

Onwards!