Citizens Advice Data Science team — our regular forums

Dan Barrett
3 min readNov 2, 2022

This is a quick post about the regular forums and practices we have as a team.


We are a fairly small team of data specialists with a variety of responsibilities and mixed ways of working. Some of us are embedded full time in multidisciplinary product teams. Some of us work exclusively in particular data domains, for example activity data from our various channels. Some of us work across multiple teams and contexts.

The point here is that we want to keep our time in meetings to a minimum while making sure we are working well together as a group. Historically the structure and responsibilities of the data specialists in our organisation led to siloed or isolated working, and we have been working to change that.

At the start of 2022 we instituted the following regular forums and practices:

Priorities for the week

At the start of the working week everybody in the team posts a few bullet points about what they’re going to be focusing on in our Slack channel. We agreed that this would be better than having a meeting. It provides an opportunity to ask for help.

Weekly check out

On Thursday afternoon we have a 30 minute video call where everybody goes through their progress, based on the priorities from the start of the week. This is an opportunity to celebrate success. We usually keep it under 30 minutes too. It’s on a Thursday afternoon to accommodate peoples’ working patterns and caring responsibilities.

Leads meeting

The 5 leads in the team (including me) meet once a fortnight for 45 minutes to discuss team well being, do troubleshooting of issues, and consider how we’re doing on our strategic priorities.

Monthly delivery session

Once a month we do a video call on a Wednesday afternoon where we talk through progress on our shared ‘data improvement’ Trello board. This isn’t a comprehensive repository of all the work we do, but it does record big initiatives and collaborative pieces of work. The call lasts around 45 minutes but it’s scheduled for an hour.

The labels that we apply to our work help us to track progress against our strategic goals.

Monthly development and well being session

Once a month we run a hybrid session where some people are in the office and some remote. People meeting in person go out to lunch. Then we run a short meeting where we do a check-in, information cascade about what’s happening in the wider organisation, a show and tell, and with space on the agenda for other items particularly about building our skills as a team.

Away day

Once every 3 months we turn the session above into a full day where we work on a practical data challenge, with something social at the end of the day if people want. The intent behind this is to make space for developing our skills.


Every six weeks we do a retrospective. This is on a video call, using a Jamboard. We consider what went well, what could have been better, things we’d do differently, and what we’ve done for our individual well being. Any actions from this retrospective go on to the data improvement Trello board.

We also use this retrospective to reflect on how our team practices are going. The last time we did this we concluded that they were working well for us.

I think it averages out between one and two hours a week. This feels balanced, particularly when people can get very busy with meetings.



Dan Barrett

Head of Data Science at Citizens Advice. These are my personal thoughts on work.