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Zara Topping – pioneering tech transformation in public sector – Midlands Women In Tech finalist spotlight

By Methods15 September 20232 min read

Rounding up our Midlands Women In Tech finalists’ spotlight, is Zara Topping, a finalist in the ‘Best Use of Tech in a Public Sector Project’ category.

Zara has worked across Ministry of Justice and associated organisations in a number of roles supporting delivery of major Programmes. In 2019, she assumed the role of Programme Manager for the Prisons’ Technology Transformation Programme (PTTP) during a crucial phase, which required rectifying initial technical approach and realigning strategic direction.

Facing numerous challenges due to past unsuccessful prison-related programmes, Zara and her team adeptly navigated these obstacles, which included managing multiple suppliers, stakeholders, and the additional complexities brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns. Zara’s leadership ensured the Programme maintained its trajectory, particularly during the critical Analysis, Design and Build phases of the Technology Solutions, laying the groundwork for ultimate success.

Given the extensive scope of the Programme, unexpected issues, changes to requirements and the need for adaptable work packages frequently arose. Zara’s exceptional crisis management skills were pivotal in overcoming these challenges and contributed significantly to this Programme’s success.

The overall delivery approach necessitated the introduction of Agile methodologies for product-based services. Zara was instrumental in driving this change to align with the Ministry of Justice’s strategic direction, delivering 72 separate products and services that integrated to a final solution to be deployed to Users and ultimately positioning PTTP as an exemplar for Programme delivery.

Feedback received validates that the vision was fully met and realised in its entirety. The successful delivery of the MOJO Service/Platform not only delivered long-term tangible benefits to prison staff users, a technology platform to support future transformation in this area but also provided a foundation for the wider Ministry of Justice going forward. This will allow for ongoing iteration of the products, retirement of the outdated and costlier legacy services, and increased self-sufficiency by delivering services in-house, reducing reliance on third parties, and generating cost savings opportunities.

MOJ Stats

Equality has been a central focus of the Programme, with many key roles held by women and an inclusive work culture fostering excellence and development for all. This inclusivity was especially notable in key roles that played a pivotal role in ensuring the Programme’s successful delivery.

If you think that Zara is worthy of winning the award for ‘Best Use of Tech in a Public Sector Project’, then please take a minute to cast your vote for her here.