Brown sugar cubes in neat piles

Week notes: Is tech for good possible when surfacing charity service data?

Ever wondered, what on earth does a product manager in the charity sector actually do? Here is your chance to find out!

This is the first of week notes about the ideas and challenges that bounce around my mind on a daily basis.

I will exploring my highlights, the puzzle and conundrums I am still mulling over and learning or ideas for everyone to make use of.

Categories:

Overarching feeling of the last fortnight

I am grateful but needing to refine and focus. I have a lot of ideas buzzing around and not enough time in the day to make them a reality. Scrum is really helping me to reprioritise regularly. I am SO grateful for my closest team members Jen Lowthrop and Tris Lumley whose challenge, ideas and support are incredible when working on an area alone. I am also so grateful for those I have the luxury of catching up with in the office!

Highlights and achievements

No-code is achievable!

No-Code refers to a collection of apps which allow you to develop digital services without having to write code. I have been exploring no-code tools for testing our new products.

This week I have started creating something on bubble.io from scratch! This has involved a LOT of experimenting, watching YouTube videos, and following forum posts. It is a steep learning process, so it might not be the best place to start but there are so many options out there.

Below is a screenshot from a the dashboard page of a theory of change embedder tool I have been building in bubble.io. It might not look like much yet, but there is a lot more you can’t see here and is only a few days worth of working from a blank page. I am focusing on a minimal viable product, so it won’t look too pretty yet!

 

A screenshot showing an initial draft

Bringing the team together

Is your team made up of highly intelligent and diverse people, who have a range of jobs and expertise? How do you bring these amazing talents and big ideas together into a collective? These are the thoughts I had since joining the Innovation and Development team at NPC.

Our team has been exploring our motivations, our priorities, our vision for the world, our mission and our values as a team. As a team we are creating a shared team trello board, a hitlist of our top priorities for the next quarter and crafting our vision and mission.

Some examples we are exploring for our values include: adding value to people, failing loudly, being inclusive and accessible for all organisations and focusing on reducing duplication and focusing on equity.

 

Examples of Innovation team values such as, failing loudly or adding value to people.

Puzzles and conundrums

Is tech for good possible when surfacing charity service data?

If we could improve information about the services available in your local area, would anyone care? What organisations want or use this information to support signposting? What are the incentives for doing this work?

If we could improve information about the services available in your local area, what would be the consequences of doing this well? Could we be creating divides between people accessing informal grassroots services and more traditional institutional charities? Could we further create divides between referrals and funding between small grassroots charities and larger household names? How do we create an ‘all boats rise approach to improve information about what exists?’

These are the questions that are keeping me up at night.

We know that technology is not the whole answer, but how can we make the most of technology, to support us to simplify some of the work needed to surface and maintain information about what is in your local area. We want it to be as easy for someone to find support, as it is for us to find the best takeaway or the best deal.

I had a really good discussion with Triangle Technology, who are working in this space, but we know there is a long way to go before all these issues are tackled. NPC is looking to embark on user research to explore these questions.

Learning and ideas

How to pick the right no-code tool for you

No-code could be the solution for you but how do I know where to start and what to use?

  1. Explore the different options out there: You can find a database of no-code tools here. If this overwhelms you, then G2 might be a better option for you. G2 explores which software to use. You can rank things by reviews, the type of thing you want to build and explore pricing etc.
  2. Think about the criteria that is important to you: Things to think about could include; how much does it cost? Can I integrate this with other systems? How much can I do in this tool and do I need to use other tools to develop the front-end and the back-end? How easy is it to use? How accessible is the content design? How much support is available from the company and user forums?
  3. Play around with a few options: Sorry to say it but often you won’t know what it can do or not do until you try it. Most of the tools have free options or free trials which will allow you to try before you buy. Give yourself 1-2 hours to play around and start to see if it meets your needs both now and in the future.
  4. Look at what others have done: There are a whole host of charities using no-code. Tools for food share a database of no-code examples for you to explore.

(This learning came from a discussion in a free no-code meetup this week run by Tom French and Tom Watson. We had some great discussions and practical experiments to actually make things. Explore and use our tools here.)

Communicating effectively

Everyone is busy. How do you get your work remembered? How do you get people to take action? Giles has the answers!

This week I attended ‘Agile communications tips by Giles Turnball’ webinar run by Digishift. I have shared the top tips and ideas from the session for not shouting into the abyss in this practical blog.

Until next time!

Thanks for reading – I would love to connect. I don’t know all the answers. In fact I am usually the one asking questions, so please do share your thoughts, ideas or challenge!

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