Modern Tools for Housing – Programme Week Notes 26/11/21

Another week zooms by as the nights draw in and we’re getting rapidly close to the festive season. Here’s the update from our teams.

Finance – Jay – HackIT workstream DM

  • Next Show and Tell: 7th December 2021
  • Celebrations:
    • Great progress has been made with a MAA Rules Engine concept
    • PTX testing environment is now set up
  • Challenges:
    • MAA Bugs and issues
    • Hackney development resource

Manage My Home – Yvonne – HackIT workstream DM

  • Celebrations:
    • Detailed discussions are continuing with the Document Storage team
    • The team is working excellently at pace – we managed to bring in four new work tickets (two technical enablers and two delivering user new functionality) this sprint – both of which will move us closer to our goal of delivering our first Housing management processes
  • Challenges:
    • Google Groups (permissions) is complex due to the different approaches the teams have taken across the workstreams. Integration is proving trickier than envisaged
    • Heading into our last full sprint before the current contract ends
    • We have the notifications component documentation but what is currently built is missing a few “must have” requirements for us

Repairs – Sarah – HackIT workstream DM

  • Celebrations
    • Fixed the ‘no access’ jobs being deleted from DRS
    • Development meetings with Advanced started off well
    • Deployed changes to mobile, improved job view including adding in the job description
  • Challenges
    • Solving the issue with the operative job splits – we’ve added more logging to see what’s going on
    • Keeping all stakeholders onboard while we build the last part of the bonus process ‘closing a week’

Our Digital Marketplace tender process is continuing. We whittled the applications down to a five company shortlist who have until midday Monday 6th to submit their full proposals. We hope to be able to announce a decision shortly after.

Some of our senior stakeholders have said that they want to have access to our test systems so they can see for themselves how our products function. It’s fantastic to have that level of interest so we’ll be setting that up this week.

Speaking of senior leaders, we’re looking forward to taking part in the Housing senior leadership day on Wednesday where we’re going to be presenting about the MTFH work to-date and our future plans to a large audience of departmental managers.

We’re restarting our research into moving away a number of our Housing resident processes from needing so-called “wet signatures” (signatures on a piece of paper). We’re collecting evidence of how this requirement has been removed in central and local government processes so if you have any examples of this please let me know.

We’re still lining up to recruit a senior .NET contractor to help work on the MTFH Finance workstream so if you know anyone who may be interested again, please let me know in a comment below.

A couple of bits I’ve been tardy on. I need to finish writing up the workshop that we had of evolving the governance of our programme and share that for feedback this week. I’m also re-starting the regular catch-ups with the programme Product Owners that stopped when I started the new Lead Delivery Manager role. I’m looking forward to discussing a number of important topics with them, but also really listening to how I can best help them with their goals for their workstreams.

Modern Tools for Housing – Programme Week Notes 19/11/21

Some fantastic demos this week, and a great workshop on future governance for the programme.. The current Digital Marketplace tender is attracting a number of applications and we ran a demo for potential suppliers so that they could see what we’ve done so far. Here’s the updates from our workstreams.

Finance – Jay – HackIT workstream DM

  • Next Show and Tell: 23rd November 2021
  • Celebrations:
    • Great progress has been made with a MAA Rules Engine concept
    • PTX testing environment is now set up
  • Challenges:
    • MAA Bugs and issues
    • Hackney dev resource (still a significant challenge which we’re focussing on solving)

Manage My Home – Yvonne – HackIT workstream DM

  • Celebrations:
  • Repairs Hub integration is almost ready – this is a great addition to the product which will make it much easier for housing officers and others to see the whole picture for residents. It’s not quite live yet as we need to finalise the  Google group permissions) 
  • Ever more progress towards building our first process
  • Humairaa’s great work on Patches API
  • Concerns:
    • Amido contract is ending soon so we need to spend time making sure we’ve got everything documented and a plan for what happens next

Repairs – Sarah – HackIT workstream DM

  • Celebrations
    • Building relationships with operatives/ supervisors as we continue to oversee onboarding at the DLO
    • Reporting available for bonus calculation
    • Time booked in with Advanced to address the issue with the sync issue with DRS
  • Challenges
    • Sync with DRS, we’ve increased this to every 15 minutes but we’re still not picking up certain changes from within DRS meaning some jobs are missing from the operative job list (though they still have the printed jobs so the jobs are still going ahead)
    • Solving the issue with the operative job splits

This weeknote is after a short gap as I was away in the Scottish Highlands last week. A tremendous amount of great work has been achieved in the last two weeks.

The key programme level news is that we have clarity on what’s next in terms of budget. This enables us to focus on moving through our roadmaps for the next few months – especially starting to look towards focusing on resident use of MTFH.

We’ve been gratified to see a number of applications for our current tender on the Digital Marketplace. The tender closes on Tuesday and we will be announcing the shortlist of five going to the proposal submission very shortly afterwards.

It was excellent to watch the show and tell for Manage My Home and see the repairs information for properties now being displayed along with hearing about the proposals for the service’s process engine and seeing the wireframes for the new work tray. It also blew me away to hear that in the ongoing process redesign work some processes have had their number of steps cut by nearly 50%. This will really enable our Housing Officers to spend more time with our most vulnerable residents. 

Manage Arrears continues to be used across the whole of the Rents team and as increasingly large amounts of the automation functionality is switched on this is enabling Rent Officers to spend less of their time on IT admin tasks and more on the strategy of which residents to target and how to work with them.

We are shortly going to be looking for a senior .NET contractor to come and work with us in the MTFH Finance workstream. If you know of anyone who is available and may be interested please drop me a line at david.durant@hackey.gov.uk.

Despite the ongoing technical integration issues the Repairs team are still working diligently onsite with the DLO operatives and steadily continue to increase both the number of users and the functionality they have via mobile working.

We’re still closely monitoring the integration points our workstreams have with each other and with other teams in HackIT. In particular we’re conscious of the possibility of MMH being blocked on delivering the first Housing processes by issues integrating with our Document Store service. We’ll be picking that up again at the start of next week.

Modern Tools for Housing – Programme week notes 5/11/21

Lots of excellent progress this week, but there’s some uncertainty in different areas which teams are grappling with. Here’s the updates from our workstreams.

Finance – Jay – HackIT workstream DM

  • Next Show and Tell: 9th November 2021
  • Celebrations:
    • PEN test for MAA has been completed and passed
    • 5000+ letters sent to residents
    • Resolved the Housing Search API blocker so work can continue
  • Challenges:
    • MAA Bugs and issues
    • Hackney dev resource 

Manage My Home – Yvonne – HackIT workstream DM

  • Celebrations:
    • The team smashing through tickets and getting loads of functionality and bug fixes done including being able to create new tenures
    • Starting three exciting things in this sprint: Showing Repairs Hub detail; Starting to build first process (sole to joint); and complete the patches API
    • Hugo’s walkthrough of Discretionary Officer process in the Show and Tell  – really well received with loads of audience engagement and questions  :tada:
    • Really supporting each other: we’ve been  tag teaming this week in getting a lot of things over lots of lines in short timeframes – has been intense!
  • Concerns:
    • Uncertainty about how we’ll deliver next phase as Amido contract ending
    • BA resource

Repairs – Sarah – HackIT workstream DM

  • Celebrations
    • Mobile Working launched with plumbers on November 1st
    • Addresses visible to the operative job list view – it’s the one feature every single operative has requested
    • Out of Hours repairs now being raised on Repairs Hub
  • Challenges
    • Bugs from the Mobile rollout
    • Dev capacity
    • Sync with DRS, we’ve increased this to every 15 minutes but we’re still not picking up certain changes from within DRS meaning some jobs are missing from the operative job list (though they still have the printed jobs so these are still going ahead)

Challenges

The Delivery Managers aren’t reviewing the new programme documentation as quickly as I’d like. We all agreed what would have value, but now the reality of all the daily delivery work they need to do, while working under high pressure with limited staff in key roles, means they’re not being able to prioritise time to actually do it. We’ll continue to discuss and work out how we prioritise .

We have a dependence on the Document Storage team especially as a blocker for the delivery of Housing processes in Manage My Home. To manage that I’m starting to consider a potential alternative interim solution.

We’re starting to think about how we transition from blended teams working in partnership with agencies to internal product teams. This will take time and careful thought and I’m starting to plan how we manage those handovers with the current agencies. 

Looking wider

This week I had the first of what will now be regular catch-ups with the head of the Housing Property and Asset Management (PAM) group. It went really well and we both learned a lot about each other’s team’s current work and future plans. There’s still quite a lot of uncertainty in this area around the purchase of a new PAM system and how that will fit in with the Asset microservice that we’ve built so ongoing conversations will be really useful.

Team and programme health 

We had our usual 3-weekly MTFH team leads retrospective. Three strong themes emerged – a desire for less change in the people allocated to the programme, having a better narrative to explain the great work we’ve done so far and making sure new people who join can get up to speed quicker. I’ll be speaking to people next week about the narrative – especially with the significant Housing Management Leaders meeting taking place in December. I’m also going to be working with the Delivery Managers to ensure they all have good processes for onboarding and offboarding new team members.

One of the key items for next week will be planning for our workshop to review the programme governance on the 17th. All the people taking part will be there in person, I’m very much looking forward to it.

Looking ahead

It’s good that we now have some clarity about how we’re moving forward with Managed Arrears. The existing system is now being used by the whole Income Services team and 1,000s of letters have been sent to residents. We’ve also approved the work for the new feature development on that system and for continued support. At the same time, the Income Services team are organising the pilot for RentSense and reporting back by the end of the month how it might fit in alongside our current product to deliver extra value.

Modern Tools for Housing – Programme week notes 29/10/21

Modern Tools for Housing – Programme Week Notes 22/10/21

Modern Tools for Housing is HackIT’s programme for developing user centred software products to enable our staff to support residents in our social housing. There are three workstreams – Finance, Repairs and Manage My Home. We are continuing to improve and evolve these products so that in future our residents will be able to self-serve as much as possible and we can use our data to identify those in need to proactively offer council services.

Steady progress this week – here’s the updates from our workstreams.

Finance – Jay – HackIT workstream DM

Proud of this week

  • Our latest work package for our arrears product has been approved
  • A great Show and Tell session on Tuesday showcasing the Revived Manage Arrears system and an update from the team, highlighting their progress since the system was revived and brought back online.
  • The creation of an API critical path flow in Miro which clearly displays where blockers lie and will help us with future Sprint Planning.
  • Progress was made to solve the Housing Search API blocker, which still remains, however should hopefully be resolved next week.

Challenges this week

  • Slow progression in obtaining test credentials for the PTX system, which remains a blocker for our Direct Debit development work
  • Delays in fixing high priority Managed Arrears bugs due to development resource bottlenecks.

Manage My Home – Yvonne – HackIT workstream DM

Proud of this week:

  • Pace of delivery – We are starting to refine stories for some of the process critical patch items (patches and process engine) and we’re also making good progress on the technical spikes for notifications and form builder.
  • This week we say goodbye to our Data Engineer Mehdi who has made such a massive contribution to the project

Challenges this week:

  • Refinement – we’re short on BA resource and it’s starting to impact our ability to refine enough work ahead of the dev team picking it up. This means  we’re picking up lower priority items because the top priority critical path work needs more analysis

Repairs – Sarah – HackIT workstream DM

Proud of this week

  • Great feedback from stakeholders in this weeks’ show and tell
  • Our latest work package for our arrears product has been approved

Challenges this week

  • Team changes
  • Effectively communicating expectations around deployment of features

Tracking the usage of our products is becoming increasingly important as we roll out to more users in more teams. The workstreams are already thinking about this and there are more conversations coming soon. I’ve already proposed a reusable component solution – but my tech skills are rather out of date so we’ll see what the teams think next week!

It’s good to have a bit more clarity around our systems for managing resident arrears. We’re going to continue to develop our pre-cyber-attack system which was recently revived and which we’re using to send out 1,000s of reminder letters to residents. At the same time we’re going to organise a trial of an off-the-shelf product to see how its functionality aligns with what we have already and what’s currently being developed.

We’ve had a great first conversation about designing pages in Manage My Home to represent housing blocks and estates. We want to eventually have versions of these for both staff and residents. There’s a large amount of information we can put on each including major planned repairs (like lifts or mass window replacements), communal works (like play parks or new gardens), asbestos info, estate safety issues. Plus we’re hoping to make it a great place to communicate with residents by linking to Tenant Resident Associations but also one-button-press communications to email or SMS everyone in a block about a current issue or something happening soon.

When supporting our staff and residents we need to make sure that we include those that work for and live on the estates belonging to our Tenant Management Association partners so we’re going to review those requirements on all the workstream’s roadmaps soon.

The most exciting thing this week though was a conversation with a colleague from Adult Social Care about “tenancy sustainment pathways”. I’m very keen to support Social Care and Housing working together to support any of our social tenants that are struggling for whatever reason to stay in their properties and am excited to know how we can help with that.