Planning an inception week to onboard your digital team


In Modernization Advisory Services (MAS), we support ministries to adopt the Digital Code of Practice (DCoP) and follow the new Chapter 12 Core Policy. Our team partners with ministries to establish new digital delivery teams and coaches existing teams to help them develop their digital skills.

Join us for this blog series where we share tested practices and invite others to reflect and share theirs.

Taking time to succeed

You’ve probably gone through kick-off or onboarding meetings at the start of a project before. We’ve found that committing to an “inception week” spanning multiple sessions can help to get a new digital delivery team up and running quickly, especially if there are contractors involved.

The week can take any shape, but there are common objectives and considerations for what to address, including product strategy, team building, constraints, and onboarding to technology platforms. Today we’ll explore inception practices and activities in 5 categories.

Preparing for your inception week

Connect with your contractors to create an onboarding plan and introduce them to your project goals. They’re likely to have participated in or organized inception activities before. Groups like your ministry’s Information Service Branch may also have experience and resources to share.

Things to consider when planning an inception week:

  • A survey or scoping conversation with new team members, which could also help to tailor inception activities
  • Deciding whether to run activities over a full week or a shorter period
  • Giving advance notice to presenters and senior leaders for better presentations and contributions

Product strategy sessions

The goal of product strategy sessions is to reach agreement on how the new team will start to develop its product or service, according to the strategic direction provided so far.

To achieve this you might:

  • Present the findings of user research and the strategic vision for the product
  • Share user stories, a roadmap and objectives and key results (if available) to help the team understand what they’ll be building
  • Use an activity like user story mapping to prioritize features or user stories so the team can start building

Your new team should emerge from product strategy sessions inspired to tackle your policy goals.

Team building sessions

The goals of team building sessions are to define roles and processes, and build trust.

Session activities might include:

  • Designing a team working agreement covering culture, regular meetings and documentation requirements, which can be iterated further through retrospectives as the team begins to work together
  • Having fun to build trust and foster creativity together

Risks, constraints and governance sessions

Activities in these sessions should communicate just enough of the constraints to avoid any wasted effort. Constraints might include required technology, communication processes and coordination with other teams.

Speak with your Information Services Branch early to confirm any approvals or setup that they’re responsible for, which may include databases, hosting and tools like Github and JIRA.

After inception

With your inception week complete, you may wish to update executives and other parties on any new decisions. This could even be an open demo at the end of the inception week.

For more information, visit the DevHub to learn how to create great products in the B.C. government.

The Digital Code of Practice also provides practical guidance on modernizing government operations and delivering improved services to citizens.

Check out Alluvial Consulting’s blog for more about inception workshops.

About the author

David King is the lead advisor at the Modernization Advisory Service, Citizens’ Services. He loves hearing about difficult policy challenges and networking across government to help solve them. Previously he worked in the Economic Strategy Branch in JEDI, and the UK Government in a range of policy and delivery roles.

About the author