Bilhah Kimondiu -

Joining our solutions team: My time at Ona so far

Ona staff having lunch

Ona staff having lunch on the kitchen island

Every day at Ona presents a new learning opportunity — more so when working in the Client Solutions and Support team. Working on this team has greatly contributed to my learning of the Ona system, since clients bring up issues and requests that require a lot of research and troubleshooting. So the silver lining of every complaint email is it becomes a learning experience for me.

Onboarding

My first day at Ona was overwhelming, to say the least. Mostly because I do not do new very well, and also because it was only my second job since getting into the job market 8 years ago. I got to the office that morning at 7.30 am, despite the official reporting time of 9 am. I wanted to be bright and early on my first day.

The onboarding process helped a lot in demystifying the work that Ona does. It involved attending meetings with team leads to understand Ona’s products, departments and projects. I also had to create new accounts in a not-short list of applications. I can say that it did feel like I belonged more by the end of the first week.

Every day at Ona presents a new learning opportunity — more so when working in the Client Solutions and Support team. Working on this team has greatly contributed to my learning of the Ona system, since clients bring up issues and requests that require a lot of research and troubleshooting. So the silver lining of every complaint email is it becomes a learning experience for me.

Working as a team

I have been working closely with my team, shadowing them in handling client issues. I learned from Jane how to be more concise in writing responses to clients, and to leave no room for ambiguity. Faith has been of great help, especially because she has a deep understanding of the system. She also does quality assurance, and has experience in coming up with different scenarios for troubleshooting issues. Darlene continues to be a great resource in helping me resolve XLSForm issues, and Samson’s critical way of thinking has, on more than one occasion, assisted in solving and finding workarounds to clients’ issues. I have gotten to work with everyone in the team so far, and I can honestly say I have enjoyed working with each one of them. They all have been extremely patient in guiding me and this has greatly contributed to making my experience enriching.

Training others and getting trained

Training others is one of my strong suits, and I was thrilled when the opportunity for a client training event in Mogadishu came up two weeks after starting. It was a fulfilling experience, and I was honored to have been entrusted with such a responsibility so quickly. One of the highlights of this trip was taking a breathtaking walk to see the ocean on our last day in Mogadishu.

I’ve also gone through an accelerated training regimen on the Ona data platform. I added to my knowledge of XLSForm authoring by learning to use ‘new’, ‘signature’ and other options for image questions under the appearance column, and also using choice_filter to compare choice options against each other. I have been building on this experience by authoring XLSForms for clients, and troubleshooting XLSForm issues raised by clients. I have so far learned to use the search, pull data and indexed-repeat functions, and to author XLSForms that use external selects.

I have also learned about building XLS Reports. An XLS Report is an analytic tool available to Ona users that allows you to create custom reports in Excel using your data on Ona. At first it was daunting, but after reading the help site (we use it too sometimes!), I am on my way to being good at it.

Office life

We recently moved to a new office building, and the office set up is really cool. I especially like Friday lunches now. Not just because the office provides lunch ;), but mostly because it’s a great time to interact with colleagues in other departments while having lunch at the big table.

I had two fears when coming to Ona. One, not finding a quiet route on which to take random lunchtime walks, because I do love my walks, and two, not clicking with anyone. Both fears have been alleviated; the people here are warm and accommodating and I have found multiple routes for my walks, which I go for on most lunch breaks.

I look forward to more training events, not only because of traveling to new places, sampling new foods and experiencing new cultures, #excited, but also because I’ll get to share systems built by Ona with organizations that are driving impact in the humanitarian world. I will, in this way, be fulfilling Ona’s mission of ensuring equitable access to services for those who need them most, therefore becoming part of a vision that is bigger than me.