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)


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.