Oxfam GB

Embracing the ‘Art of the Possible’ with Oxfam GB

Author information: Olly Willans , Chief People and Planet Officer , Post information: , 3 min read ,
Related post categories: Digital products , Wagtail ,

It feels like Christmas come early, when an organisation like Oxfam GB gets in touch out of the blue and says they want to hear more about Wagtail.

Oxfam GB had heard about us from Oxfam US, who we recently helped to re-platform to Wagtail. Big organisations in the US seem more tech-led in their choice of solutions, so many have found Wagtail before their UK counterparts.

Oxfam GB have a strong digital team with some significant in-house development skills. They wanted to explore working with a flexible, open source CMS for which they can get agency support when they need it but also, crucially, develop on and administer themselves. They want to embrace the modern way, so they are interested in trying out Wagtail like their US colleagues.

Technology choices are often wrapped up in big procurement processes and long term projects. Scary stuff! And, very often, you don’t even know whether you’ve chosen well until you’ve lived with the results for a while.

I believe that digital transformation can be accelerated by using the right development formula, and that formula is rapidly creating a minimum viable product (MVP), testing it and learning what you should do next.

Very often, you can even do this with the traditional big, scarey, high-risk procurements. And, when you do it well, it can set a standard that is transformative. So, we proposed a short, sample project to prove the ‘art of the possible’. And Oxfam were up for it.

In quick time, we decided on shop volunteer recruitment, the bit on their site where people apply to become helpers in Oxfam’s retail stores. It hasn’t been touched for a while. The process can be improved to save their busy shop managers time. And, it’s a good size to tackle in a Design Sprint.
However, there was a hidden challenge behind the sprint challenge. Well, there were a few actually:

  • Oxfam wanted to prove what can be achieved when you get a focused, multi-disciplinary team together and use the right tech
  • They wanted to prove that we could efficiently re-use Oxfam US’s front end code
  • They wanted a Wagtail proof-of-concept (POC)
  • Knowing that their major Salesforce implementation is just around the corner, the digital team wanted to trial Salesforce and trial integrating with it
  • And, they wanted their in-house developers to learn new skills so they could experience Wagtail as developers.

There’s no way anyone is going to run a one week Design Sprint and do all of that! So, we decided to do a two week sprint and see what we could achieve.

The first two days were standard Design Sprint fodder - just one of the most dynamic, exciting ways a digital team can work together! That was five people from Oxfam (many of whom hadn’t previously met) and five from Torchbox - a facilitator (me), a delivery manager, a UX researcher, a UX designer and a developer (we needed front end and back end skills to build a fully functional prototype).

And we did build a fully functional prototype. And we did meet the objectives:

  • A working, tested prototype that the Oxfam Volunteering team are all really pleased with
  • Some of the pages are content managed in Wagtail
  • It posts applicant data directly into Salesforce and pulls shop data from Salesforce
  • It uses the front end code from Oxfam US
  • And hopefully we’ve done enough knowledge transfer that Oxfam digital team can take the prototype forward to production

More than anything though, Oxfam’s digital team showed how much progress they can make in two weeks with good process, good tech and a multi-disciplinary team.

What happened next?

We've since launched the new volunteering sign-up process, generating 1000 registrations in the first month and reversing their shortfall in volunteers. And, happily, Oxfam picked Wagtail to power their new flagship website.

Author information: Olly Willans , Chief People and Planet Officer , Post information: , 3 min read ,
Related post categories: Digital products , Wagtail ,