This event was the first in a series, as we’re working alongside Microsoft and the Police National Enabling Programmes (NEP) to help establish a community to share best practice, tell a few ‘war stories’, and cultivate a friendly and collaborative environment for all Police Forces making their way towards a new set of Digital capabilities.
Organising events is getting to be a bit of a habit now for Minttulip, and working with our dedicated colleagues at Microsoft (huge kudos to Alex Robinson and Rakhi Sachdeva for their awesome collaborative approach on this event) makes sure our customers get a great event, full of insights and inspiration!
This was certainly true at our co-hosted Digital Policing event on the 30th May 2019. Focusing on a specific sector means you can really tailor the content and the message so they respond to the demands and needs of your audience, and our agenda was packed full of customers and stories that meant the day was over in a blur of great content and conversations.
Jen Nash (Enterprise Sales Manager – Public Safety and National Security at Microsoft) gave a great opening keynote that really set the context for the day. Jen took us through the major issues facing Forces and related agencies, highlighting opportunities and challenges but showing clearly how the intent and progress of the National Enabling Programme has already delivered more transformational change than anyone would have believed only a couple of years previously.
Having been intimately involved in the generation of the Programme, I can attest that the belief and vision has always been there, but so often with these things it is in the execution that things stand or fall, and it is amazing to see how well Forces are progressing and indeed already thinking far beyond to inter-force and cross-agency benefits.
Learning from those who have gone before us
We then had a real-world customer story from Linda Parkinson-Hardman. Based on her experiences at Dorset Council, Linda gave us an insider’s account of how to drive change without resorting to a “by force” approach (I think Genghis Khan was mentioned here). One of the things that resonated most with me was how they successfully represented with stark clarity the benefit and direct economic value that their use of new digital capabilities was bringing.
This is something that we put at the heart of our approach at Minttulip, and it’s so important to understand how much more open organisations are to change, and how much more supportive senior leaders become, when they can see the “needle moving” in a positive direction in an easy to grasp way. This is as important in Policing as anywhere else, public or private sector, and I know that many people in the audience were very taken with Linda’s account and approach here.
Building real-world use cases
Alex then gave a fantastic interactive session showing the power of the capabilities that Forces involved in the NEP are investing in, through a highly topical Cricket World Cup themed use case.
It was great to see how quickly Alex was able to take the intuitive buildings blocks of Microsoft Teams and use them to demonstrate on the fly briefings, task and activity allocation, document collaboration and a tonnes more as well! Showing great capabilities that bring more people into the conversation, using recorded and captioned content really helped bring to life the role that technology has to play in delivering inclusive operational Policing.
The importance of culture in change
Culture is the bedrock of change, and everyone involved in Policing is highly aware of the pressures of the work that Police Workers carry out; simply dumping technology into an already pressured environment is unlikely to be met with much enthusiasm, and careful consideration and planning needs to be undertaken to ensure you deliver the long term value of an investment in capabilities such as those in Microsoft 365.
Myself and Dan Hancock, took some time to talk through some of the most critical culture-centric aspects of building a successful community of change, and how the relationship between digital and IT functions and the wider user community will change in a new ‘evergreen’ operational model. We split the session in two, focusing first on the shift in organisational culture that we at Minttulip help to engender so as to encourage ‘grass roots’ innovation through use of digital capabilities. Understanding the context of your initial programme as the catalyst for a long-term value opportunity for your organisation helps to properly situate your “in programme” change and user engagement approach, and lay the foundations for long term success.
We then looked at the other side of that process – how IT and digital functions need to change to properly support and manage the inevitable demand that will come from across your organisation. Without paying proper attention to the cultural shift required within your IT function, and building an ‘evergreen’ operating model and service transition and integration approach into your initial programme you set yourself long term challenges, and we’ve seen first hand how this can result in failures in delivering longer term benefits, that only come when the organisation is supported by a consulting IT capability, rather than a gate-keeper.
Rhys Willis gave us an update on overall progress at the NEP, and focused on how important it is for each Force to take up opportunities to engage with both the Programme, and each other, so that a legacy is developed to support future inter-force and cross-agency effectiveness.
There is evidence of great progress being made across the participating Forces, and when Rhys showed the current ‘state of play’ side and where each engaged Force currently sits, it really brought home once again the scale of what is being achieved.
It was also really interesting hearing Rhys talk through the extensive use case catalogue being developed under the NEP. We had already discussed the longer-term return on investment Police Forces should be looking to realise, and seeing “up in lights” the types of scenario enabled by the NEP, and the value it will bring Forces it really brought home how much benefit this Programme will bring Forces, and even more importantly the public they serve.
Lunch followed, and was full of animated and constructive discussions and conversations. Several themes arose for me, but those of value realisation, service transformation and integration, and delivering on the promise of the business case really came through strongly in the chats I had with attendees.
Making the most of Microsoft
After lunch, Paul Thomas and Joe Wells, both from Fasttrack, gave a highly informative overview of how Police Forces on the programme can benefit hugely from the free advice, guidance and migration and deployment support that Microsoft offer.
Fasttrack is a fantastic capability, that we always recommend to our customers, and I think everyone really benefited from seeing in more detail what services are offered, and how they can complement the support of a great deployment partner, and the NEP itself. We know from our long history of working in an implementation and deployment capacity how good the service provided is and, as importantly, how much it can save customers on the “lift and shift” costs so that they can be re-positioned to support the all-important cultural change and user adoption elements of a successful programme.
Empowering everyone, in every context
One of the most impactful sessions of the day was delivered by Phillippa Ritchie (Modern Workplace Collaboration Technical Specialist, Microsoft). Beginning by properly situating the discussion around inclusion and the vital role that accessible technology has in bringing it to life, Phillippa not only showed how context changes an interaction from accessible to inaccessible, and how temporary and situational disability benefit from innovation designed primarily for those with a permanent disability, but also some great concrete examples of how the toolbox of features within Microsoft 365 have been designed from the outset to be as inclusive as possible.
This “inclusive by design” approach is the Microsoft mantra across all of their products, and it is amazing how little is known about the features built-in at no extra cost, that in previous eras would’ve been costly additional items. We spend a lot of time helping our customer understand how to build an inclusive workplace, and drive an inclusive and diverse culture – because we understand the value organisations and their customers derive from it – and an underpinning foundation for organisational communication and collaboration that is itself designed under inclusive principles is a critical component of that broader organisational goal.
To wrap up the day we had a Q&A panel discussion lead by Rakhi, who did a brilliant job of leading the discussion to some great insights. Joining her were Linda (who presented earlier), as well as some great customers: Eve Blanche, Business Development Analyst at Cumbria Constabulary, and Jamie Hewitt, Director of Applications & End User Services at the Metropolitan Police.
I won’t attempt to recount the whole conversation here, but there were some great insights and anecdotes shared, and the Q&A that followed had to be drawn to a close just so that everyone could make their trains!
What was clear from the discussion and from the day overall is that Police Forces across England and Wales who are part of the NEP face a huge challenge, with plenty of complexity derived from challenging work environments and stretched resources. However the opportunity, and most importantly passion and commitment, exists within those Forces to help alleviate the burdensome elements of work through the deployment of the right tools into the right hands, with the right support, will lead to new Digital Policing approaches that will see us all benefit. Many Forces are already making huge strides towards that goal and at the next event I’m sure we’ll see continued progress and have many more fantastic stories to hear!