2021 Byte-sized Review: Organisational Transformation

How we scaled OGP’s impact through organisational growth in 2021

2021 has been a busy year for us at OGP! Having shared some of our product milestones in our previous post, we wanted to also share what we’ve been up to at an organisational level to enable us to maximise our impact as a team.

Growing the Team

With all the new product launches and developments this past year, we reached a point where we just did not have enough manpower for all the work we wanted to accomplish. We realised if we were able to grow the team, we’d be able to exponentially increase our impact on public good, improving and creating new tech services for public officers and citizens.

Thus, this year we’ve welcomed 21 new members to OGP, almost doubling our team since 2020 and bringing our headcount to 57 staff. We’ve also run our largest internship programme ever, with 22 interns working alongside us in building tech for public good throughout the year.

Hiring 43 people in the past year has not been an easy process, especially since our philosophy has always been to hire the top talent in the tech industry, who are often in high demand. To do this we’ve had to relook at how we approach hiring, expanding our pipelines and proactively reaching out to potential candidates (do say hello if you see us in your inbox!).

Beyond sheer numbers, as a growing team we needed to create new roles that hadn’t existed previously. We’ve hired new folks to join us in our emerging partnerships and policy functions to create even more impact in Singapore by influencing tech policy and propagating our practices to other teams in government. As our products have scaled to millions of users, we created a product operations function, growing from 1 temporary staff to 4 full-time members, in order to keep up with the influx of users, queries and cases. We’ve also worked with more volunteers this year than ever before, to help support projects such as our COVID-19 vaccination tech operations.

Lastly, we significantly expanded our middle management layer. While autonomy and ownership will always be core parts of OGP’s culture, we realised with a growing team we needed more managers to ensure that staff’s learning and development remain important parts of the OGP experience. We also continued to run our annual Learning Month and weekly #LearningFridays to support a culture of learning and growth at work.

Designing an Organisation for Maximum Impact

In 2021, we also spent a significant amount of effort optimising our own work, re-looking at what we should work on and how we should work. Not only did we have to consider the current urgent needs of the country, we also needed to create a productive and healthy work environment for OGP officers.

With the COVID-19 pandemic raging on, we had to pivot much of the team from working on our normal slate of products and features to focusing on pandemic-related products, including COVID-19 vaccination operations, case management, and public communications. On top of reallocating our resources, we had to figure out how to best support these COVID-19 product teams, from helping push against bureaucracy to be able to build the most impactful products, to providing emotional and mental support after working long hours for many months.

With some of the team going back into the office but with a majority still working from home, in 2021 we continued to iterate on how to communicate and connect as a team in this new normal of hybrid working arrangements. We held our first virtual Hack for Public Good in January, exploring different ways to create and drive product innovation even while physically apart. We ran three different virtual team retreats, pivoting from physical retreats when COVID-19 disrupted our plans. We explored how to both maintain and create aspects of our OGP culture while working virtually, for instance using tools such as HeyTaco to build a culture of recognition or creating an onboarding experience that emphasised our key values as an organisation. Throughout the year, we tried out different video and communication tools, from Discord to Zoom to Google Meets, trying to create a seamless communication experience for our officers, whether in the office or at home.

Scaling OGP’s Impact

Lastly, in 2021 we made significant progress in scaling our impact as a team beyond just the tech products we build ourselves. With our new policy and partnerships functions, we now have full time staff dedicated to thinking about how we can rewrite government tech policies to enable more modern tech practices as well as how we can support other government agencies in adopting some of OGP’s tried and tested processes and practices. These include tech practices such as security and tech financing, but also non-tech practices such as performance management and hiring. One such application is our new HealthTech Sandbox with MOH, where we are applying our technology and our talents to make an impact in the healthcare space.

2022 and Beyond

With 2021 behind us, we have much to look forward to in the year ahead as we continue to grow as a team. With a goal to grow to around 150 staff by the end of the year (apply here!), we will be busy hiring and onboarding new members, finding new ways to scale our impact, and of course continuing to build new products to serve Singapore.

To all of our users, collaborators, and fellow public officers — thanks for being with us, trying out and providing valuable feedback to our products this past year — looking forward to what lies ahead in 2022!

If you’re interested to be part of our team to build tech for public good, check out our career opportunities and find out more about our full suite of products.

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