2020 – a year of challenge, learning and opportunity 

Written by: Perago

We’re not the first to say 2020 has been a strange old year and we won’t be last. No one expected the year we’ve had and it’s been tough, challenging and full-on in equal measures. For companies like us, it’s been daunting at times. Planning and forecasting have been difficult, and the uncertainty that comes with our kind of business at the best of times has been intense.

All of that said, we know how fortunate we are. We finish 2020 in a good place with several exciting new projects to kick off the new year. Taking some time out over the Christmas holidays has inevitably led to some reflection, along with the recuperation, the wine and the cheese. So what are the things we can take from 2020?

1. Everything has its time

Who would have thought that 2020 would be the year that we would see the public sector in Wales create a Centre for Digital Public Services (CDPS)? Since the creation of Perago-Wales 5 years ago, we have been pushing and supporting digital thinking in Wales. We were proud to be part of the team that worked with Lee Waters to produce the System Reboot paper in 2018, and we’re pleased to be supporting the creation of CDPS with Tim’s role as Programme Manager. We’re also supporting the Centre’s comms and engagement, ensuring learning is shared, and communities are built to support better public services in Wales. It’s something we’re passionate about and something we’ve had to be patient about, and we’re excited to see what 2021 brings.

2. Boundaries and geography

Love it or loathe it our boundaries have been blurred this year. We’ve had insights into people’s homes and lives, and we’ve seen more tolerance of home working and better work-life balance than we can ever have imagined. Remote working has opened up boundaries for us as a company too. We’re excited to see our market really start to open up here in Wales, but we’ve also worked with organisations we might never have had the opportunity to before COVID-19 sent us to our kitchen tables, gardens and spare rooms. This year, we worked with a Richmond based housing association supporting them with journey mapping and service design. It was all remote, adapting to on online tools and digital collaboration and engaging with people we’ve never met in real life.  Wales is our home and our passion, but the world is our oyster!

3. Digital is sector agnostic

Linked to geography and the opening up of new boundaries, 2020 has proven what we’ve been saying for some time. The skill sets needed for digital are sector agnostic.  You don’t need to have worked for years in health/housing/central government/education * (delete as appropriate!) to add value and support digital transformation. Regardless of sector, the ability to take a user-centred service design approach, focus on the user, bring clarity to the strategic direction and support hands-on delivery and skills transfer is what will bring change. Organisations have in-depth knowledge and understanding of their sector and users. The support they need is around what they do with that knowledge to deliver differently and in a way that meets the needs of the people who need to access their services. We’ve worked in new sectors and with new clients and have loved seeing the progress and thinking that new working methods have brought to their teams.

4. Growing the team brings new thinking and challenge

We’re fortunate to have a diverse and talented associate network who work as part of integrated teams with clients and on standalone pieces of work with us. The associate model has worked well for us, and it’s gratifying when associates choose to work with us time and time again. We’ve got a great network that we’re always grateful to and will continue to use. This year we were also able to bring new members to the team for the first time. Our year in industry placement student Sunmi joined us in September and in October Jess joined the Perago team as our Service Design and Research lead. Sunmi and Jess have brought new experiences, new thinking and new ideas to the team. They’ve challenged us and supported us, and we have big plans for 2021, including new recruitment and exploring apprenticeships. As a Welsh company, we must develop the local economy and help build skills in Wales. We want to create new jobs as our business builds. Watch this space!

5. People are still the most important thing

Just as digital is all about people, 2020 has shown us more than ever how meaningful our connections and networks are. The support we have received from our networks has been fantastic; we’re grateful to each one of you (you know who you are!). We’ve missed not spending time face to face, whether as a Perago team or with clients. 2020 has proven that we can deliver remotely and add value regardless of location, but we also know that we get different energy and ideas from time spent together face to face.  We created Perago because of our shared values and passion for public service delivery in Wales.  Being friends, as well as colleagues, is a bonus. We’ve kept each other going in 2020 and can’t wait to be able to spend more time face to face in 2021.

Who knows what 2021 will bring? A final thing that 2020 has taught us is that anything can happen. But that’s a good thing too. We believe that along with the significant challenges that 2021 will bring, there is also opportunity. Opportunity to see a shift in the way public services are delivered in Wales. This year we’ll be on the lookout for more good people to join us and be part of Perago. From delivery managers to service designers and communicators to technologists, if you share our passion and believe that delivery is the way to demonstrate value, then give us a shout. If you need a team or individual to support your business transformation, then give us a shout. We’re always open to a chat about opportunities, partnerships and delivering for Wales and beyond.