Funeralcare team welcomes a new user researcher

Photo of Mark Branigan, user researcher on Funeralcare

I’m Mark and I recently joined Co-op Digital as a user researcher on Co-op Funeralcare. I’m part of a multi-disciplinary team which means I work alongside developers, designers and product managers as well as internal and external subject matter experts from the funeralcare industry.

At Co-op Digital we’re building a service so that our Co-op Funeralcare colleagues can meet the needs of their customers more efficiently. The less time spent doing paperwork, the more time they have for their customers. Their role includes welcoming friends and family who are visiting their loved one, arranging personalised keepsakes, and of course organising the funeral including the cremation or burial.

As a user researcher, I help my team learn about our Funeralcare colleague’s roles; which systems are already in place and where digital can make things better. The best way for me to do this is by visiting funeral homes, listening to my colleagues who work there, and watching them at work.

When I’m back in the office I relay what I’ve found out to the rest of my team. That said, I believe that ‘user research is a team sport’ so I always encourage my colleagues to come and see for themselves too.

Contextual research (actually going to the place to see how things work) makes sure we build a service based on needs rather than on our assumptions of what our colleagues need. So in this sense, my role is to make sure that when my team starts iterating on the service or building a new feature, we know it’s going to be useful as well as useable. Contextual research means that both time and money are spent wisely. We’ll iterate what we build along the way, of course.

I feel privileged to be on this team. Our Funeralcare colleagues only have one chance to arrange a loved one’s funeral. Building something that helps them do that smoothly and sensitively feels like a really important thing to work on and get right.

Mark Branigan
User researcher, Funeralcare

Ian Ferguson – social media community manager

I’m so pleased to welcome Ian to the social media team. Ian’s a Community Manager, responsible for helping our Co-op better understand online social communities, having spent the best part of his early career helping others do the same.

A Picture of Ian Ferguson - social media community manager
Ian Ferguson

Communities are important to Co-op, because we’re co-owned by over 5 million members, who each live in local communities where we operate Food stores and Funeral homes. But, increasingly we’re all forming communities online too, ones that transcend geographical boundaries and instead form around common interests and ideas.

It’s Ian’s job (and Scott’s, Sophie’s and Catherine’s) is to to find relevant online communities, understand them and introduce them to our Co-op, as well as to keep talking and listening to our existing members. The two-way dialogue we can have on social media means we can welcome more and more people, their thoughts and ideas into our Co-op.

Welcome to the team, Ian.

Jordan McDowell
Senior Social Media Manager

Growing the Agile Business Analyst team

Hello I’m Joel Godfrey

I’ve just joined the digital team at the Co-op as an Agile Business Analyst.

Picture of Joel Godfrey
Joel Godfrey

I used to work in our Food business in IT as a Business Analyst, working recently on our Membership and Transformation programmes. I spent my first week shadowing Liam Cross who’s working on the Local Causes service which is part of our new Membership. I’m now spending some time supporting the team working on Location Services.

The main attraction of joining the digital team for me was the chance to learn a different way of working with new people, skills and technologies.

I had the chance to work closely with a lot of people in digital throughout the work we did to develop the new Co-op Membership. The team’s attitude and rapid response to change and challenge really appealed to me.

It was quite a tough decision to leave Food and join something new. I worked with a lot of great people to deliver some important pieces of work in the Food organisation, it felt like a big thing to leave behind.

Three weeks in, I feel I’ve made the right choice. There are differences (lots more post-its, fewer smart shirts and cufflinks). But the team feels very Co-op. Everyone’s been welcoming and happy to give up their time to share knowledge and talk me through Agile ways of working. I’m learning a lot.

Hello I’m Anthony Wilson

I’ve also recently joined the team as an Agile Business Analyst.

A picture of Anthony Wilson
Anthony Wilson

Like Joel I used to work for the Co-op in the Food organisation. Working in Commercial and more recently in Supply Chain in the Stock Exit Management function where I had to find the most effective way to dispose of stock we can no longer sell.

I’ve no experience of being a Business Analyst (BA), but a lot of the skills I’ve developed are exactly what’s needed in my new role – interpreting user needs, knowing what’s important to aid prioritisation, having a passion for quality and a curious mind. I’m grateful for the chance to continue my development in this new role.

The first 2 weeks have already been a great learning experience and I’ve been given fantastic support by Charlotte King and the other BAs and in fact everyone I’ve worked with throughout digital.

I’m now supporting Co-op Electrical as they get ready for their peak trading season.

It’s great to be part of a growing and supportive team that’s working on building a strong community of practice.

Hello to Annette Joseph

I’m Annette and I recently joined the Digital Services team as a Delivery Manager.

photograph of Annette Joseph posing at whiteboard.I’ve worked for Co-op for over 2 years as the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Manager for our Food business. I was seconded to the Digital Services team earlier this year and spent a couple of months shadowing delivery managers to get up to speed with agile ways of working before being hired permanently.

We’ve got lots going on so there wasn’t any shortage of great things to learn.

The digital wills team helped me to get a hands-on understanding of the role and responsibilities of a digital delivery manager. Setting the team up for a successful delivery, removing blockers and obstacles and helping the team to become more self organising. I also worked with Vic Mitchell and the team as they established a robust, but light touch governance for the wills online service as it moved toward live testing.

Picture of the output from the wills risk session
Wills beta team – output from go live risk session

The team working with Funeralcare is helping the business rethink how we deliver at-need funeral services. In an agile team, the way the team works together is as important as the work they produce so it’s important that any issues are surfaced and dealt with as quickly as possible. Working with this group, I learned about the importance of facilitating a team through different stages of maturity and how the appropriate method of support can help the team produce magic.

Picture of the Funeralcare beta team
Funeralcare beta team

The recruitment pipeline was passed to me at the beginning of the secondment. I used it to demonstrate the techniques that I learned from the other teams. The big visible displays of information keep us on track, and help us to be transparent. Regular catch-ups ensure the flow is constantly progressing, user research loops and retrospectives continuously improve the process.  

Picture of the output from the recruitment retrospective
Output from the recruitment retospective

The delivery managers’ community of practice ties it all together. We have a steady, supportive group meeting regularly. We share knowledge, resources helping us to continuously improve the standard of agile collaborative delivery across all teams.

We’re looking for more Delivery Managers right now, if you’re interesting or have any questions please get in touch.

Annette Joseph

Charlotte King joins the team

I’m delighted to welcome Charlotte King to the team. Charlotte joins us as an agile business analyst. She’ll be a key part of the Membership product team, focusing on the Membership website, where the team will be working hard to respond to member feedback and iterate the experience to meet our members needs.

Picture of Charlotte King

Charlotte isn’t new to the Co-op, she’s spent the last 3 years on the graduate scheme in our Food business and the last 2 in the team delivering Membership. Most recently Charlotte has been working on how we give our Member’s more of a voice.

I’ve known Charlotte throughout her time working on Membership and have seen the outstanding contribution she’s made in business analysis, delivery and business change. This is why I’m so pleased to be able to add Charlotte’s skills and experience to our growing agile business analysis practice.

Welcome Charlotte.

Danielle Haugedal-Wilson
Business Architecture & Analysis 

Hello to Liam Cross

I’m really pleased to welcome Liam Cross who’s joined the digital team as an agile business analyst. We’re working hard to build up our own community of practice in agile business analysis and Liam is the first to join this newly formed team.

Picture of Liam Cross

Liam joins us from Reckitt Benckiser, where he’s spent the last few years working on their global digital product catalogue. Liam will be joining the Membership product team and will be supporting them in reviewing user feedback and writing user stories for the next iterations of the product.

I’m excited to be bringing his skills and experience to the team. You’ll hear more from Liam and about the community of practice we’re building in the coming months on the blog.

Welcome Liam.

Danielle Haugedal-Wilson
Business Architecture & Analysis