Ashley Rolfmore

Ashley Rolfmore | Oxford Computer Consultants

In 2004 as an end user I single handedly took offline an operational back office system of a mobile phone retailer. 14 years later I am a software product manager. I fight for the end users and customers for a flagship back office product in social care that has over 50% of the market in England. I use evidence and research to prioritise empathy and shared understanding, so I can make helpful products with great user experience.

Back to 2004. I pressed the F-key which was labelled as “list vendors”. This was a poignant lesson in the usual quality of back office software systems. They are often flaky, with poor performance, and poor usability leading to a terrible user experience. I wanted to change that.

I kept learning, and asking questions in basic retail and administrative roles, and this pushed me toward change management and configuration of back office systems.

Six years ago I moved into system transformation in social care for Oxford Computer Consultants, helping a large number of local authorities implement a configurable software product for social care finance. But it wasn’t enough to configure and ensure the data was good quality and was aligned to the business process. After talking to my customers and users on various projects, I wanted to make the software better for them.

That meant understanding our customers in a different way to before, and delivering our software differently. Moving toward an Agile delivery methodology, collecting more frequent customer feedback, introducing user personas to create empathy for our customer and user goals with the sales, marketing, development and support teams.

It also meant guerrilla tactics to encourage diverse talent to stay at Oxford Computer Consultants – founding the tampon club (http://www.tampon.club) there, or informally mentoring new staff to ensure they had someone else to talk to, or giving formal and informal kudos to management for colleagues who have been providing an excellent contribution but aren’t natural self-promotors, or discouraging non-inclusive language and behaviours.

I also want to contribute to the software community as well, so I have recently started volunteer at codebar.io to encourage more diverse talent to be involved in software.