Will Newham: “We can see we're making a big difference"

From daily stand-ups to data discovery, Technical Director Will Newham explains how he continued to support client growth despite a nationwide lockdown.

This year Will Newham stepped into a new role as Technical Director of Fluid. As well as lockdown coinciding with his added responsibilities, it came at time he was leading a large scale data migration with one of Fluid’s biggest clients, and all while sharing an office at home with his son, Josh. For Will it’s been an intensive yet highly productive time. But you can understand why he misses the “bit of quiet” his old commute to the office used to provide. 
Leadership in lockdown

Working in IT and Digital is as much about people as it is about programming. Like many of us, switching out the ‘water cooler’ chats for pixelated video calls took Will some getting used to.

"I think it’s a lot easier to help people when you don't have to initiate a call. In the office you can see if people are scratching their heads a little before considering asking for help"

These are new communication challenges, but Will and the team have found ways to support one another. “You have to work with what you can do, and we're making it work really well”

Will starts every working day with a 15-minute ‘stand-up’ call with the team. "We have morning stand ups which highlight if people are having problems.”

To  ensure efficiency and quality Fluid’s developers tend to work in small increments. This approach has also helped with leading a distributed team. Will explains; If you've worked on something for a full day, its unusual because you've normally got multiple smaller pieces of work planned throughout the day, so it’s almost a light nudge to say someone might need some help"

Ignorance is bliss, but knowledge is power

An iterative and incremental approach is woven into Fluid’s way of working. Understanding client challenges is a process of measuring, monitoring, and learning and as Will says “every day is definitely different, there’s so much going on and such a range of functionality being used." 

And providing access to information is a key client focus, “We can see we're making a big difference to the clients we're delivering to just by giving them access to the data straight away.”  But it's what they do with it that counts and this outcome focussed approach can be greatly rewarding, allowing clients to measure, learn and make regular improvements.

However sometimes, giving visibility of data does not always warrant positive reactions, "It’s not always positive, because sometimes data discovery is highlighting things they didn't know about that they needed to know."

Taking the positives from the negatives

Often businesses have a lot of information but struggle to harness it for meaningful insight into their performance and the news isn’t always good but, “If you don’t know anything you can’t take action and you can’t improve. That is a lot of what we do -  give clients the visibility of the information they have but can’t access.” 

Facing these hurdles is a critical stage of digital transformation. Will sees a silver lining to coming across unexpected bumps in the road, "If you aren't aware of challenges, you can't solve them. The more you learn, the more questions you ask, so you take the positives from the negatives”

The best of both 

Will was in a unique position over lockdown, both living with and working alongside his son, Josh, who joined the Fluid team for an apprenticeship over the summer months. Possibly to Josh’s surprise, Will looks back at this time positively “It was the best of both. I could hear any huffing and puffing and turn around and give him some pointers."

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