When you look back on 2020 in years to come, will it be a year you just want to forget or a year that marked a key turning point? As individuals and as organisations we will all have a different answer to that question, but I think the one thing we have in common is that 2020 has been a pivotal year in so many ways.
This time last year, we wrote a blog post looking back on Velocitii’s first year - and what a year it was! From establishing our senior leadership team, to taking on exciting new clients and wrapping up our first major project, we achieved a lot in those 12 months.
But this year has been pretty tough. As a company, we started the year really strong, with big plans and a senior team that was ready to smash it. Then along came March, and targets and goals had to be redefined, new ways of working established and new challenges faced.
However as the dust begins to settle, I’m proud to say that we have emerged stronger and wiser, and heading in new and exciting directions that we hadn’t even anticipated. I’m starting to believe that we will be able to look back on 2020 as a positive turning point in our evolution, and that we are already better off for it.
Reflections on 2020
One of the most encouraging things from this year is the realisation that we are not alone. So many small businesses from different sectors have been vocal in sharing their experiences on social media and this has been incredibly humbling.
By collectively sharing the challenges that we’re facing, the lessons we’ve learned, contacts and networks that might help others, as well as advice and words of encouragement, we can grow stronger together. It continues to push us all to innovate, to transform, and to deliver better services and products in ways that will keep the UK at the forefront of global business. Let's not stop doing that.
One thing we’ve all realised is that resilience has become more important than ever. This year, resistance to business change has become fatal, and embracing change has become essential.
The pandemic has forced many businesses to rethink their model, their products and their services, with the positive outcome of driving change and transformation. This has been especially true amongst small businesses.
The introduction of new technologies and different ways of working - which are always talked about as a ‘nice thing to do when we have time’ - have now become firmly entrenched.
We should take confidence from the fact that the accomplishments we are achieving quietly every day, just by weathering this crisis, are important and are making us stronger.
New ways of working
As a company that had already adopted remote and flexible working practices, we were probably better placed than most to adapt to the challenges of lockdown.
Not having the option to meet face-to-face did help us to realise a few things, so we have made some changes. This included setting up a company Slack channel to help encourage conversations - both work and non-work related! - among a team of people who are working on different projects in different government departments. This has helped us to feel more joined up as a company, and provided us a space to chat, collaborate and share.
We also realised how important it is to have a physical hub for the business. While many companies are choosing to ditch the office, we went against the grain and opened our first Velocitii HQ. It’s a calm and quiet environment for the team to come if they want to work in a more social environment (when government guidelines allow us to) or simply need a change of scenery from home working. We realised pretty early on that this would be important for our mental health, and while it hasn’t had as much use as it would in normal times, it’s been a sanctuary for many of us!
Our 2020 highlights
In spite of all the challenges, there have still been plenty of positives for us as a team and as a business. Here are just some of the highlights from Velocitii’s second year:
Growing the team
The team has continued to grow this year and we were joined by 18 new team members. We are so fortunate to have brought together some of the best talent and most driven, perseverant professionals in the UK tech sector.
Developing our focus
We set up four new internal departments: Velocitii Data Analytics, Velocitii Cyber Security, Velocitii Innovation and Velocitii Global - more on those in the new year - and began work on a number of exciting projects.
Social value and early careers
This year we continued to actively support and promote DDaT careers to diverse pools of talent, especially young people starting out on their DDaT journey. This is something we hope will become a more formalised initiative in 2021.
We’re delighted that the first graduate we recruited into Velocitii, George, has recently landed a new role as a junior product manager. We’re proud that we were able to support George through training, experience and mentorship while he was with us, and we look forward to welcoming him back one day in the future. A more recent graduate, Indy, also took her first steps into digital this year, coming onboard as a junior user researcher with Velocitii Innovation, and in July we hosted our first summer intern, Sophie (a school leaver). We’re proud to have created three different opportunities for three young people, and we don’t plan to stop there!
What’s more, this year we began a collaboration with Socially Responsible Recruitment, an agency that shares our ethos of bringing excellent people together to do important public sector work, and that as organisations we have something to give back to society. We plan to share more on our social value work in the new year, so watch this space.
Our first app
We developed and launched our first mobile app, Velocidex. It’s designed to give us a simple way to store contacts without the complexity of a CRM, and to enable us to build teams even faster and more effectively than we were before.
Building a community
This year also saw the formal launch of our Velocitii People business unit. We've been sharing our knowledge of TUPE through the #TUPETopTips blog series, and have successfully built a TUPE community through virtual coffee meetings for the public sector.
Focussing on diversity
Earlier in the year, we conducted our first diversity survey and it turned out to be a really interesting exercise. The survey surprised us by revealing that the team was made up of 77% females - including an equal balance in our senior team, which is quite unusual for the DDaT sector. It was also fascinating to discover we represent 8 different faiths and hail from 5 continents. We know there is still room for improvement in some areas, and this is something we are continuing to focus on as our team grows and we recruit for more roles in 2021.
I’m really looking forward to starting 2021 with a positive mindset and fresh ideas. As ever, Velocitii will keep adapting, keep growing and keep innovating, and I’m excited to share some of the things we’ve been working on these past few months with you all in the new year.
I would just like to wrap this up with a special thank you to our public sector clients. The UK Civil Service continues to amaze and impress me with its resilience and professionalism in the face of a crisis, with some of the best talent and minds I have ever worked with. We look forward to continuing to work with and support you again in 2021.