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Interview: Working on projects that matter

80,000 hours is the number of hours one person usually spends working throughout a lifetime. That is a lot of hours, so why not spend them wisely and do something that positively impacts society? We have talked to one of the UX Managers in Visma Consulting who is creating systems that add value to society. 

Interview: Working on projects that matter

The original article was published on our Norwegian blog in June 2019

“I want to do something socially beneficial in my career.” Socially beneficial projects are projects that add value to society and make everyday life easier for individuals. In the world of technology, the opportunities for those who want to make a difference have never been greater.

Working within IT means you can develop solutions that make everyday life easier for those who need it the most. 

At Visma Consulting, we are proud to work with a range of clients in which many of them play an important role in society. We work with the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration, the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV), the Directorate of Integration and Diversity and The Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training to mention a few. 

One of those who has worked on many socially beneficial projects is UX manager at Visma Consulting, Bente Bakke. She says this is very rewarding work:

“At first, it was the field of study that I liked the most. However, this has changed, now I find it most rewarding – and just as exciting – to work on projects that add value to the society, so that I personally can make a difference.” 

As a designer, Bente gets to participate in many of the projects in the company and she has a unique ability to see the entirety of the systems she creates. For a number of years, she has worked on community-friendly projects that range from landslide warnings, and agriculture to education and refugees. 

Our systems contribute to safer asylum processes for refugees

One example of a project that has great social benefits is a website we created for the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration. The task was to develop the website Asylbarn.no (a website for refugee children in Norway), with the purpose of making it easier to understand the integration process for children who come to Norway as refugees.

“Our systems help make it less frightening for those who don’t speak Norwegian and make them feel safer in the process of coming to our country. This project was especially rewarding as we got great responses from the asylum centers, both from those who work in these centres and the refugees themselves – who felt safer in the process,” Bente tells us. 

Also read: AV1 – A robot specifically developed for the classroom and school life

Academically challenging projects

When working with socially beneficial projects, you can end up in situations where you are academically challenged and forced to develop an understanding of the customer’s work processes and needs. 

An example of this is when Bente worked on the project “Differentiated Mediation” (article in Norwegian) for the Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs. 

All parents with children under 16 must attend mediation in connection with separation or breaking up a cohabiting relationship. The project that was requested from the client was to develop an effective system to safeguard the children’s interests in these situations. 

In order to develop the solution with the users’ needs in focus, such processes are carried out with a lot of research to gain valuable and critical insight. As part of this research, Bente participated in conversations between two parents who had separated, so-called mediation meetings.

“During one of the conversations, it was brought to our attention that there was violence between the parents, which was a tough but interesting experience to include in the insight work I did.”

This mediation meeting helped the Visma design system handle challenging issues in a safe and secure way. Among other things, a solution was designed to make sure that sensitive information provided by one party does not go astray and is safeguarded by the system.

When asked about her favourite part of working on such projects, Bente highlights the opportunity to work on various tasks and acquiring knowledge from the many different people and teams she gets to collaborate with: 

“One of the best things about working on these projects is the ability to work so variedly and the opportunity to learn new things about each domain. This is something I would never have had the chance to do if I had worked in-house with only one product. Also, working with different teams in Visma Consulting, I get to acquire a lot of knowledge from the people I work with, both in terms of technology choices and in customer communication.”

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