Our first year as #dxwNorth 

It’s really important to us to be an active part of the local digital community

It’s been a year since I wrote an introductory blog post setting out the 3 things that we needed to do to set up dxw in the north. So after our official launch party, I thought that I should update you on how we’ve done so far.

Finding and setting up a place

Attendess at the #dxwNorth launch party
Attendess at the #dxwNorth launch party

I said that we needed somewhere to do some work and in July we moved into the most fabulous office at Calls Landing on the east side of Leeds city centre. It was a bumpy ride getting here, but thanks to the connections we made in the city, we landed in a space that couldn’t be better for us.

The industrious feel of Calls Landing and the balcony over the river make it a creative and inspiring space. But more than that, the way we’re able to ‘zone’ the space for different types of activities makes it so productive. Whether we’re running a collaborative workshop, doing a remote user research interview, or getting our heads down at a desk, we have space for it.

We know that having the right space is vital for teams to do their very best work. We also know how difficult it can be for our clients to find good spaces in their busy offices. So we’re expecting to work with our clients in this space for projects as well as specific meetings and workshops.

While we’re still building up the dxw team, it would be a shame for this fantastic space to go unused. If any of our friends in the north want to have a team away day or workshop in the space, please let us know. We’ve already hosted team meetings for Crown Commercial Service, who loved getting out of their own office for an afternoon.

Finding talented people to do the work

A year ago I said that we needed to find some people. The northern based team is now 9 people (10 if you count the colleague who did northern properly and moved to Edinburgh). We have skills covering all the professions, from strategy and research to delivery and operations. So we can offer complete multidisciplinary teams from the Leeds office.

In a couple of weeks, our first team member will be joining us via our returners’ programme. The programme is available in both Leeds and London for those coming back to work after a career break.

We’re now focused on expanding our tech and delivery team in the north and we currently have open positions for devops, development, and delivery.

Finding some clients to work with

The third task we had from a year ago was to find some clients. We’ve done some great projects already. At the moment, we’ve got a delivery team working with the Department for Education (DfE) in Manchester. They’re working on a project to help attract and retain teachers to specific subject areas where there are acute staffing shortages. This project has dxw team members from both Leeds and London working closely with DfE staff.

The recent discovery for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) on collaboration across local government was also delivered by a team across Leeds and London. We ran a joint workshop in the north and south to help us plan for the alpha stage.

As well as central government, we’ve also worked with local government. North Lincolnshire Council asked us to carry out a digital maturity assessment for them. This discovery work was done in Scunthorpe and Brigg with desk research being done in Leeds. We then gave them an action plan to help the council continue on their transformation.

We were recently selected to join the Yorkshire and Humber Design and Development Framework, which was created by Leeds City council. It provides public sector organisations across the region with access to the research, design, and development skills of suppliers who are able to deliver to user-centred and agile methodologies.

Being part of an active community

It’s really important to us to be an active part of the local digital community. This is why we’ve been giving our time, effort, and support to things like the OneTeamGov breakfasts and Leeds Service Jams (including the forthcoming Leeds GovJam – get your tickets now). We also sent a team to 2 Hack the North events in Manchester and Leeds and sponsored the creche to help people who might not otherwise be able to attend.

We know how important it is to understand the challenges faced by the public sector so we can help find ways to solve them. We’ve been talking to people in local government, housing, and health at events like UKHealthCamp to understand how we could work together to make public services better.

We’re so pleased that so many people were able to come and celebrate the launch of #dxwNorth with us last week. We hope to be able to continue having great conversations with you in the future.