How PDMS supported Scotland’s national skills agency during a pandemic
Over the last year and a half, PDMS has partnered with Skills Development Scotland (SDS) to support them on several digital projects.
Due to the pandemic, things were a little different. We haven’t visited SDS's offices, we haven’t met them face to face and we haven’t sat around a whiteboard together. Yet, we have built a strong partnership and delivered on important digital projects that have provided huge benefits to their organisation.
Our SDS projects
Our first project with SDS was to augment their team with some additional technical expertise to help them get careers.myworldofwork.co.uk live. Using our Umbraco skills, we were tasked with creating content blocks and ensuring they met accessibility standards.
That was followed by development work on the Skills Discovery tool, which gives users suggestions on jobs that require similar skills to those they have already acquired from previous jobs. This project also required Umbraco skills but this time we got to put some of our Angular and API skills to good use too. We also worked on the Career Check tool and Apprenticeships.Scot.
Delivering results during the pandemic
Before the pandemic began, most organisations were of the mindset that co-location and face-to-face relationships was a vital success factor for such projects. 18 months into our work with SDS and we’re not so sure.
Nick Collins, Senior Front-end Developer at PDMS, has been involved in most of our work with SDS. He has identified four factors that have ensured a positive working relationship, despite not being able to be in the same place at the same time.
- Embrace the client’s way of working - SDS uses several tools, procedures, and some terminology that we don’t use but we knew it was important to embrace their way of working. This meant quickly moving over to Jira rather than DevOps and Slack rather than Teams.
- Ensure regular and consistent communication - Both the Developers and the Project Manager maintained consistent communication throughout projects. Developers attended and contributed to SDS stand-ups, and the Project Manager communicated with SDS Project Managers on a weekly basis to ensure alignment of resources and budgets.
- Importance of a broad skillset - All PDMS colleagues on the project had a broad skillset and were able to add value in several areas. This meant we were not held up by having to bring in additional skills when faced with a challenge. We could speak to our colleagues if we needed support but generally, we were able to tackle most issues on our own even if they weren’t exactly what we were commissioned to do.
- Shared cultures are key - Although the tools we use differ from the tools used by SDS, we have similar cultures. The transparent, open, collaborative and supportive culture we know at PDMS is similar to that found in SDS which made it much easier to become part of their team.
There are obvious benefits that result from being co-located with clients, but it isn’t always necessary if working practices like these are put in place. Over the years, we have established a flexible working environment which not only works for our staff but meant that when the pandemic hit, there was no disruption to our business. Our staff are well-versed in communicating openly and partnering with clients no matter where they are in the world.
We are looking forward to continuing our work with SDS, co-located or not, as they continue their work to improve employment and skills outcomes across the nation.