What has been the most exciting thing that you worked on in 2017?

For the past year, we’ve been busy expanding on the success of our first product, the Business Grants Portal (BGP). BGP was built to make it easier for businesses to apply for grants by moving government grants for businesses onto a single portal.

It was also the first large-scale government system to be delivered purely using Agile methodology. Now that BGP is a stable product in Phase Two of development, we’ve been working on a grant portal for various agencies in the Ministry of Culture, Community & Youth family – to cover grants that support youth, arts, heritage, community and sports. Grants are the most common way for the government to support ground-up initiatives, build capability and restructure the economy, so the work that we do has far-reaching impact.

Expanding on what we’ve been doing for businesses to other areas validates the work we’ve done, and gives us the opportunity to build on that to deliver an improved product, as well as spread the Agile philosophy.

What technology particularly interests you for 2018?

While I appreciate the potential of new or emerging technology, I don’t get excited until someone is able to find practical applications for these new ideas when it starts to really change the way we do things.

The two ‘B’s I’ve got my eye on in 2018, blockchain and bluetooth, are not particularly new but I’m excited to see how they develop. We are already seeing some exciting applications of blockchain in finance. Just recently, the Australian stock exchange announced that they are moving to blockchain technology. As blockchain heads to the mainstream, I’m sure we will see more ways it can change the way we transact for the better.

Coming at it from a grants perspective, it’s definitely worth exploring the potential of blockchain to make government payments and transactions simpler, easier and more convenient.

I expected Apple’s push for mass adoption of bluetooth technology to result in bluetooth being more robust and reliable than it currently is. We haven’t really seen any big improvements in 2017, but more smartphone manufacturers have jumped on the no-headphone-jack bandwagon, so I’m hopeful about something happening in this space next year.

If you were to share one piece of advice that you learned in 2017, what would it be?

This video on the Law Of Averages has been stuck in my mind since I watched it. Too often, we’re looking for a magic bullet, the secret to success or some other shortcut, when the answer is simple – put in the hours to learn what you need to learn, and do the work that needs to be done. It’s usually the most persistent person who succeeds, not the smartest or most talented.

What was the greatest challenge that you overcame in 2017?

The greatest challenge is not technology or solving difficult problems, it’s getting agencies on our side.

In order to deliver citizen-centric digital services, there is often some digital transformation required on the part of the agencies we collaborate with. When we take on a project, we usually ask them to change their mindset and adopt a new way of working, and we constantly challenge their policies and processes. That’s quite a lot to ask for, even from the most open-minded of our partners.

This year, I’ve had many opportunities to develop my negotiation, facilitation and coaching skills. We’ve run workshops to quickly get everyone up to speed on Agile philosophy, Scrum and design thinking. We introduced activities during meetings to help them make more informed decisions. We involved them in our design activities so they understood our process. Hopefully, we’ve also earned their trust along the way.

It might take a great deal of time and energy, but it’s all worthwhile when things go much smoother down the track because you’ve built strong relationships with your stakeholders and they have confidence in the decisions you make.

What book did you read in 2017 that most interested or inspired you?

Not really a book but I have been reading up on web analytics – how to implement page tagging, what to measure and how to get insights for improving our products through data.

“Data-driven” has been a buzzword for a while now because the data we collect and interpret is useful to the decisions that we make. While I’ve worked with data analysts before, I don’t have constant access to one on the projects I’m working on.

In the spirit of cross-functionality and broadening my skills, I’ve made it my mission in 2017 to learn more about the ‘how’ of web analytics, to make sure we have the data we need to inform our user experience and product development decisions.

Who inspired you in 2017, and why?

I joined GovTech mid-2016 and I’ve been continually inspired by my bosses – Mark Lim Director of Product Design and Development, and Steven Koh, Deputy Director of Agile Consulting and Engineering, since I started working with them.

Mark for dreaming big, going against the odds and delivering work that’s been a catalyst for transforming the way government delivers digital services. Both Steven and Mark for being astute leaders and creating a culture that fosters innovation, collaboration and the courage to stand up for what’s right.

Our culture has attracted not just great talent, but great people. With the various scandals that have plagued major tech companies in 2017, I’m glad that I work in an empowering and respectful team!