Report a Problem Weeknotes : week ending: 2020-01-17

Weeknotes are a way for us to keep people informed about progress on the project.

THE PROBLEM

  • It’s currently difficult for Hackney residents and visitors to the borough to report issues such as broken street lights, potholes, noise nuisance or fly tipping
  • To do so often requires knowledge of the inner workings of the council
  • Our current citizen reporting systems don’t integrate well to our back-end casework systems
  • Very few of the reporting mechanisms offer any explanation of the process or next steps tracking 

PROJECT GOALS

  • To enable Hackney residents and visitors to be able to use a single high quality digital service to report a variety of issues that the Council is responsible for solving
  • For our call centre staff to be able to use the system to record issues raised by citizens via phone calls
  • For these issues to be routed to the appropriate part of the Council
  • For a citizen reporter to be able to track the status of issues
  • For a citizen reporter to be automatically notified by changes of status
  • Through user research to demonstrate that citizens and staff are comfortable using the service
  • For the service to be integrated to back-end digital services
  • Being able to report on our overall and service area specific metrics

GOOD THINGS

Things are definitely starting to fall into place. We have our first weekly project status call on Monday and there’s going to be lots to discuss.

We’ll be discussing the initial statement of work. We’re not fully planned out with what we want from FixMyStreet in Hackney so it’ll be interesting to see how we can firm up the initial pieces of work while leaving some flexibility for later in the year.

Discuss the initial integration work that’s already taking place. This is between FixMyStreet and our first back-end system Alloy.

We’ll be talking about planning in some service design workshops. We’re thinking about having different “start pages” for each of the reporting categories so that google can handle the issue of people using different words to mean the same thing. We’re also very keen to start designing how we’re going to collect information related to noise nuisance. We also need to have a discussion about if / how we’re going to support anonymous reporting.

We still need to come up with an overall service name. FixMyStreet doesn’t really work for us as many of the issues won’t be street-based. If you have any ideas let us know in the comments below.

Outside of the catch-up call there’s lots of other things going on.

We’ve been contacted by some senior staff in the Council. They have pointed us to particularly keen Hackney residents who may be interested in participating in user research for the project. It’ll be great to work closely with people who will be actively using the service.

We’re lining up the first conversation with our Contact Centre leads. We’re doing this to understand how we can train council front-line staff in how to use the service to report issues residents are phoning in about.

LEARNED THINGS

You need to make time. It should go without saying but with lots of projects in critical stages in HackIT it’s sometimes possible that projects that are going well get given less time! Something to be careful of.

DIFFICULTIES

We need to plan further ahead. We need to plan in at least a couple of service design workshop and may now have left it to late to hit the dates we’d originally planned. Always remember to get meeting planning done first!

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Thanks to everyone who worked on the project this week – David D., David E., Louise W., Louise H, Matthew, Martin, Struan, Susan, Sandrine, Rasit and Wayne.

WHAT’S NEXT

In the next week we will do the following.

  • Organise the PO for FixMyStreet
  • Have our first weekly catch-up
  • Book the two service design meetings

The following people will be working on the project: David D., David E., Louise W., Louise H, Martin, Matthew, Wayne, Rasit, Struan and representatives from Hackney’s Highways team.

Hackney Re-Platforming Weeknotes : week ending: 2020-01-17

Weeknotes are a way for us to keep people informed about progress on the project. Given the technical nature of the re-platforming work we will use them to explain technical choices that we are making, including the benefit and impact of these choices. 

Project goals

  • Enable housing officers to use MaT offline when there is poor mobile coverage
  • Enable Hackney to decommission Outsystems, saving £80,000 per year
  • Enable Hackney to support, develop and deploy future improvements to MaT more quickly, at lower cost

Sprint goals:

The goals for Sprint 5 are to:

  1. Replatform all of the Tenancy and Household Check and Home Check frontend (including save and return)
  2. Do testing of offline functionality within the team
  3. Have all APIs in place and integrated with the frontend (including image persisting and S3)
  4. Connect the React frontend to Outsystems
  5. Get in a position to where we can release Tenancy and Household Check and Home Check to a group of Housing Officers for further user testing with users by 3rd Feb

Good things

We’re making good progress on building the APIs we need and integrating them with the frontend.  The team reduced the scale of what’s needed right now by descoping the S3 API until next week. The logic for this can be dealt with in the image persisting endpoints of the process API and the extracted and used in the S3 API. 

We’ve nearly connected the new front end to Outsystems. This means that we will shortly be in a position to do the necessary offline testing (see below). 

We’re on track to get the rebuilt service in front of Housing Officers during February. This will include Tenancy and Household Check and Homecheck in the first instance, with Introductory Tenancy Visit to come slightly later. Achieving this goal means there will be some finalising work needed after the end of this current sprint, but we believe that this is manageable.  

Decisions

Assembling Home Check and Introductory Tenancy Visit will take place after this sprint. We will not have time during this sprint to set up and deploy Home Check. But given that the process steps for Home Check are already covered by Tenancy and Household Check this will be a straightforward task and can be delivered after this sprint.  

Difficulties

We haven’t tested offline working yet. The team were blocked by a couple of issues this week in getting Tenancy and Household check to a point where we can test offline working. Progress is being made and this is a priority. Gill and Richard will be doing this testing once the technical changes have been made, and we will most likely need to pick up changes after this sprint.   

We still need to handover the data-driven frontend system to Hackney. As well as handing over the task of assembling process steps (which is straightforward), we want to handover management of the data-driven frontend (remultiform) system. This will work best when Emma is actually working on the project; she will be picking this up with F on Monday. 

Acknowledgements

Thanks to everyone who worked on the project this week – Bukky, Chris, David, Emma, F, Gill, Liudvikas, Mirela, Richard and Tuomo.  

What’s next

  1. Emma will be pairing with F on some remultiform work to get a better understanding of that codebase
  2. Gill will be carrying out offline testing, with support from Richard
  3. Richard will work with Emma on clarifying the scope of follow-on work that is needed after this sprint. We will be timeboxing this follow-on work

The following people will be working on the project next week:

  • Ana
  • Bukky
  • Chris
  • David 
  • Emma (Monday only)
  • Gill
  • Liudvikas
  • Lorraine
  • Mirela 
  • Richard
  • Tuomo

One Team Gov Hackney : Our first meet-up!

One Team Gov is a global community founded in 2017 who aspire to radically reform the public sector through practical action. There is a particular focus on breaking down silos within and between government organisations. It’s made up of mostly civil and public sector employees driven by optimism, the desire to make things better and united by a set of core principles. This fits in very well with the Hackney Council values of being open, ambitious, pioneering, inclusive, proactive and proud.

So far, the core group in the UK has run a number of unconferences, including one at the annual event where the top 200 civil servants meet, as well as contributing to reports such as NESTA’s Radical Visions of Government. It’s core themes this year are diversity and wellbeing, the climate emergency and public sector leadership.

Across the world it now has groups in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Finland, Sweden, Norway and Switzerland and has run three 1,000+ people global meetups.

However – as well as going global it’s also time to start going local! Groups already exist in Wales, Leeds, Manchester, Scotland, Newcastle and most recently one was set up by our friends over at Croydon Council.

Inspired by Croydon and the other groups we decided it was time to set up a branch of One Team Gov here at Hackney. One first meeting was bright and early on the 15th of Jan and was attended by people from a number of areas in the Council including Housing Needs, ICT and Adult’s Social Care.

Fueled by coffee and croissants we had a brief intro to the One Team Gov concept and a round of introductions as many people attending had never met each other before – already a great start! Following that we had a lean coffee session where everyone was given an opportunity to introduce topics related to improving how the Council functions and then to vote on which ones they would like to spend the remainder of the time discussing.

The suggested topics included how to end projects well, creating a culture of empowerment, benefiting from data insights, enabling and empowering teams to be self improving and governance of cross-cutting projects. The two that the group chose to focus on were on how to share information about the work we’re doing to prevent duplicated effort and highlight conflicting objectives and how to provide consistent ways and means of communication.

The mini-session on work related information generated insights including the following.

  • The difference between “static” information about a project and and “the narrative” of what it’s achieving
  • The use of project start-up and close-down checklists
  • How difficult it is to know what other parts of the Council are doing and especially who is responsible for things
  • The danger of being overwhelmed by too much information
  • Whether it can be a good thing to have conflicting objectives in different teams
  • HackITs use of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs)

The mini-session on consistent ways of communication insights were as follows.

  • “No time” to communicate can often be an indication of other more complex issues preventing participation in a project
  • People often shut out communications they don’t see as related to their “day job”
  • Ways of communicating are very important – building a strong relationship often means having to initially talk to people face-to-face even if they are spread throughout the borough
  • It’s important to ask how people like to communicate
  • When looking to make people involved in a project – make sure you include discussions with the manager (about their time) and their team-mates (about the impact)
  • Having agreed combined objectives can make people feel more like part of the team and more willing to respond to communications – start small, build reciprocity!

After the two discussions came to an end we had a short retrospective which covered four areas. Things people liked included the opportunity to meet new people from different areas of the Council, the way the session was run and the croissants! People learned about lean coffee and that we all face common challenges. It was felt that the session could do with people from other teams and perhaps dedicate more time. Finally, the group longed for specific actions to take away – and a breakfast fry up!

All in all it was a great first session. We’re going to organise one every month – if you work at Hackney Council and would like to be involved please let us know.

Report a Problem Weeknotes : week ending: 2020-01-10

Weeknotes are a way for us to keep people informed about progress on the project.

The problem

  • It’s currently difficult for Hackney residents and visitors to the borough to report issues such as broken street lights, potholes, noise nuisance or fly tipping
  • To do so often requires knowledge of the inner workings of the council as the same kind of issue may be managed by different teams depending on where it occurs (e.g. whether it is on a tenant estate or not)
  • Our current citizen reporting systems don’t integrate well to our existing and new back-end casework systems for our different internal service areas
  • Very few of the reporting mechanisms offer any explanation of the process or next steps tracking – this generates repeat calls as the reporter doesn’t know if the item has been received, progressed, resolved, will generate no further action due to process 

Project goals

  • To enable Hackney residents and visitors to be able to use a single high quality digital service to report a variety of issues that the Council is responsible for solving
  • For our call centre staff to be able to use the system to record issues raised by citizens via phone calls
  • For these issues to be routed to the appropriate part of the Council for actioning without the citizen needing to know the internal structure of the organisation
  • For the citizen reporter to be able to track the status of the solution to the issues they raise
  • For the citizen reporter to be automatically notified by changes of status of the issue (such as it being resolved)
  • Through user research to be to demonstrate that citizens and staff are comfortable using the service
  • For the service to be integrated to our existing and new back-end digital services
  • Being able to report on our overall service metrics and specific information related to each integrated service area 

Good things

Everything is going to plan as we start to spin up the project.

We’ve completed the contract. This has now been signed off by both parties and we’re good to go!

We had an excellent initial kick-off session. On Wednesday this week we had a half-day session with folks from mySociety and Hackney getting together to discuss how the project will run. This went so well we finished early! We agreed on the first integration (for our Highways team using their new back-end SaaS service Alloy) and discussed how we’ll move forward with the service design for the next piece based around noise disturbance. 

We’ve been thinking about more service design. We have some thoughts about how we might structure the service slightly differently to the standard implementation of FixMyStreet. We’re going to do some design and user research to see what our residents think of the idea.

We’re going to get going soon. We’re setting up regular catch-up meetings and thinking about how we’ll do show and and tells to show the work progressing.

Learned things

It’s important to focus on what’s needed in the short term. FixMyStreet can potentially be used by a lot of teams at Hackey. We need to ensure we focus rather than spend a lot of time discussing what could be done at some point in the future.

Difficulties

It can be tricky getting time from people outside of HackIT. Understandably, Hackney staff outside of HackIT are all very busy with the other demands from their roles. For the ones that will be involved in this project on behalf of their service areas we need to discuss how much time this will need from them and how they will fix into how we work.

Acknowledgements

We had a smaller team this week than we normally do. Thanks to everyone who worked on the project this week – David D., David E., Louise W., Louise H, Matthew, Struan, Susan, Sandrine, Rasit and Wayne.

What’s next

In the next week we will do the following.

  • Organise the PO for FixMyStreet
  • Sorting our regular catch-up
  • Setting up a shared backlog of actions in Basecamp
  • Beginning to put technical folks in touch with each other to discuss integration points

The following people will be working on the project: David D., David E., Louise W., Louise H,  Matthew, Wayne, Rasit, Struan and representatives from Hackney’s Highways team.

Hackney Re-Platforming Weeknotes : week ending 2020-01-10

Weeknotes are a way for us to keep people informed about progress on the project. Given the technical nature of the re-platforming work we will use them to explain technical choices that we are making, including the benefit and impact of these choices. 

Project goals

  • Enable housing officers to use MaT offline when there is poor mobile coverage
  • Enable Hackney to decommission Outsystems, saving £80,000 per year
  • Enable Hackney to support, develop and deploy future improvements to MaT more quickly, at lower cost

Sprint goals:

The goals for Sprint 5 are to:

  1. Replatform all of the Tenancy and Household Check and Homecheck frontend (including save and return)
  2. Do testing of offline functionality within the team
  3. Have all APIs in place and integrated with the frontend (including image persisting and S3)
  4. Connect the React frontend to Outsystems
  5. Get in a position to where we can release Tenancy and Household Check and Homecheck to a group of Housing Officers for further user testing with users by 3rd Feb

Good things

Building processes is now quick and easy. Emma has been able to make good progress in a short space of time, having only really started this week. Chris even managed to build 14 steps in a single day, which is great. This bodes well for Hackney’s ability to build more processes in future. 

Decisions we’ve taken to deprioritise certain tasks has really helped the team. Before Christmas we decided to postpone both the Service Assessment and the cautionary contact development work. This has helped us keep focus.   

We have 2 more API endpoints in place – Create (POST) and Update (PUT). This means that we can start plumbing the front end in, and ensure that the processes work offline. 

More Hackney colleagues have started to join the team. Emma, Tuomo, Bukky and Anna are getting increasingly involved. A successful handover means making sure that the wider Hackney team understands and can maintain the updated service, so this is good news.

Decisions

Approach for going live. Based on Gill’s guidance we decided that the best approach will be to release the updated service to a small group of housing officers throughout February, to thoroughly test offline working ‘in the field’. This should get us into a position where the updated service can be released to the wider team in March. This will be led by Hackney colleagues, rather than dxw.   

We have decided not to replatform the Introductory Tenancy Visit process during this final sprint. Given how quickly processes can be assembled, this is something that can be picked up by Hackney once we finish this phase of the project. We are discussing with Emma how we can potentially use this as an opportunity to test our documentation and make improvements to the forthcoming front end playbook.     

Difficulties

There is a lot to build and to test in this final sprint. We would have liked to test the offline functionality much earlier, but this hasn’t been possible. We’re making this a priority early in the sprint. 

We often come up against blockers or issues that we haven’t spotted far enough ahead. Although we have spent time this week thinking about the “known unknowns” that might cause us problems, we’ve often been hit by things we didn’t anticipate. Given the small amount of time we have left we need to minimise disruption to get everything done. 

We still have some UX/technical decisions to make in the final sprint. We need to make sure that things like post-visit actions and manager review are set up properly. These aren’t big tasks, but we do need to resolve them early on.  

Acknowledgements

Thanks to everyone who worked on the project this week – Bukky, Chris, David, F, Gill, Liudvikas, Mirela, Richard and Tuomo.  

What’s next

We are now in the final sprint of the project. Over the next week we will be:

  • Rattling through the remaining Tenancy and Household Check steps
  • Making sure that Manager Review is set up properly
  • Connecting the React processes to Outsystems
  • Clarifying the user journey for post visit actions

The following people will be working on the project:

  • Ana
  • Bukky
  • Chris
  • David 
  • Gill
  • Liudvikas
  • Lorraine
  • Mirela 
  • Richard
  • Tuomo