Manage a Tenancy : Week ending: 2019-12-06

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 3 are to:

  1. Have the cloud infrastructure in place to deploy the front end and the API layer
  2. Complete the front end for ID & Residency Check and Review & Submit steps in the Tenancy and Household Check process (in React)
  3. Be able to start testing the rebuilt service with HackIT team, working from live infrastructure
  4. Have an updated pipeline so that we can deploy code
  5. Fully understand what is required to rebuild the remaining two processes (Home Check and ITV)
  6. Have a clear handover plan between dxw and HackIT (including named individuals and timeline)

Good things

We have built the Terraform cloud infrastructure. Mirela and Liudvikas have done a great job setting this up (with the help of Matt Keyworth); the final step is to test backend deployments and then we will have completed this sprint goal. There’s still some work to do to make it reusable across Hackney, which we may have time to look at in a future sprint. 

We have mapped out the journey for when housing officers are unable to enter a property. This is an addition to Tenancy and Household Check, and we are now testing this with Housing Officers.  

We had a great show and tell. We ran a show and tell (video here) with the Housing team on Tuesday, and we had great attendance and good feedback from people. We were able to demonstrate how easy it is to assemble or modify processes, once the React components have been built. 

Learned things

Collecting diversity information. There was a step in the original Tenancy and Household Check process to collect diversity information from residents, but this had been removed before the service went live. We may want to reinstate this step provided we can do so in a way that makes it clear to residents that their responses are anonymous.  

The front end handover. This has been helped by Emma being able to set aside time in early January to get to grips with how to build a process using the React components we’ve been building. However we’re still not clear how the underlying code libraries (including the task of building React components) will be handed over, and who to – the team are putting together some options to address this. 

Understanding the best ways for HackIT to use Terraform. Terraform is a DevOps product for managing digital infrastructure in the cloud. As part of Manage a Tenancy we’ve been building our knowledge of this product to understand who we can best use it as part of our CI/CD pipeline. We’ve been learning from and sharing knowledge with other technical folks in HackIT and also several of vendor partners. We’ve gained a lot of confidence and are happy that we’ll be able to gain the benefits of this not just for MaT but for many of other new services in the future.

Difficulties

We experienced an issue with the live service this week. A configuration in AWS was wrongly changed which impacted multiple services. Mirela was able to investigate and address this quickly, but this prevented some of the work we wanted to do on Thursday. The Terraform infrastructure that we have set up should prevent issues like this from occurring in future, once the hub is replatformed. That Terraform work might eventually be applicable to other projects in Hackney, making their infrastructure more resilient.

Building components in React is still time consuming. The decision we took last week to simplify this task has had a positive impact, but it remains the most challenging aspect of the front end work, and continues to slow our progress on rebuilding processes. We’re still exploring how we share the load with other teams working with React at Hackney.

We have a few blockers. There are a handful of activities in our backlog which have morphed from being low-priority to being blockers. These include finalising the privacy impact assessment, defining acceptance criteria for Tenancy and Household Check and finalising the HackIT approach for end-to-end testing. We discussed these as a team and have a plan for removing these blockers.  

Acknowledgements

We had a smaller team this week than we normally do. Thanks to everyone who worked on the project this week – Chris, David, F, Gill, Mirela, Richard and Tuomo.  

What’s next

Next week we will:

  • Running our third show and tell, which will take place in Stamford Hill on Tuesday 10th December at 3pm
  • Continue building Tenancy and Household Check – we’ll be focusing on the ID & Residency and Review & Submit steps, along with the start and end pages for offline syncing.
  • Scope out in more detail what is required for Homecheck and Initial/Introductory Tenancy Visit
  • Test the pipeline set up to automatically deploy code

The following people will be working on the project:

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

Report a Problem Weeknotes : week ending: 2019-12-06

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

The problem

  • 8 business areas (breaking out Markets from Parking and Estates Cleansing from Waste), approximately 60 high level problem types that can be reported in a variety of different ways 
  • A reporting approach that is structured around the service areas rather than the problem, for example if I want to report an issue of drug paraphernalia I can report it differently depending on if I am on the street, on an estate, in a park
  • Some of the online mechanisms for reporting problems fail or are not joined up to enable efficient recording / resolution 
  • Very few of the reporting mechanisms offer any explanation of the process or next steps live 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 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
  • 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 back-end digital services
  • Being able to report on our overall service metrics and specific information related to each integrated service area 

Sprint goals:

We aren’t sprinting yet :-). We’ll probably start doing that after the kick-off meeting (see below).

Good things

We have picked a partner to deliver this service. There has been a lot of great work by Louise Woollard who led an assessment of potential digital products to deliver this service.  We have picked FixMyStreet from mySociety and Louise and Matthew have lined up the procurement. We’re now building up to a kickoff meeting on 8/1/20 including representatives from Hackney service areas that are lining up to use the system and HackIT representatives who may need to be involved in the technical integration.

Many service areas in Hackney are lining up to use the service. The teams include the following.

  • Enforcement Officers in response to Noise and Antisocial Behaviour reports
  • Highways Engineers in response to Highways and Street Lighting reports
  • Parks Officers in response to Green Spaces, Ground Maintenance and Playground reports
  • Regulatory Services Officers in response to Commercial Noise and other Commercial reports
  • Housing Officers in response to Housing related reports
  • Environmental Operations Officers in response to Environmental reports
  • Parking Officers in response to parking / abandoned vehicle reports

Learned things

So much learning about what the council does! Some of the team have had to very quickly start to get up to speed with the many and varied service areas in the Council that the service will be integrating with.

Difficulties

We haven’t signed the contract yet. We don’t foresee any issue with this – we just need to get it over the line.

We’re still on the lookout for an excellent Service Manager. The remit of the service is very broad across a large number of council service areas. We need to have an enthusiastic Service Manager who has the time available to make the service a success.

We need to define service area Product Owners. Each of the service areas that are looking to use the service have a number of enthusiastic members of staff.  We need to work with them to identify who the key points of contact are.

We need to prioritse which service areas will be integrated first. Our contract with mySociety allocates us three free integrations with the Council back-end system. We’re currently developing some criteria to create an initial list of which systems will be integrated first so we can give everyone in the team realistic expectations.

Acknowledgements

We had a smaller team this week than we normally do. Thanks to everyone who worked on the project this week – Chris, David, F, Gill, Mirela, Richard.  

What’s next

In the next week we will do the following.

  • Deliver the criteria by which we’ll order the service area integrations and a draft list to discuss
  • Plan the kickoff meeting and send out invites
  • Continue the discussion around choosing a Service Manager

The following people will be working on the project:

  • David
  • Louise
  • Matthew
  • A number of people from Hackney service areas

Hackney Re-Platforming Weeknotes – week ending: 2019-11-29

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 are mobile coverage blackspots
  • 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 2 were to:

  1. Finish putting everything in place to deploy code we’re working on. We’ll do this by setting up the cloud infrastructure and updating the pipeline. 
  2. Be able to demo how Tenancy and Household Check will work offline in a browser. We’ll do this by:
  • Rebuilding some of the process steps in React
  • Putting in place a simple API layer to demonstrate that we’re getting data out at the right points

Good things

We released the first few React components we have been working on. We have been focusing on the components we know we’ll need to implement the Tenancy & Household Check, and have made some progress, balancing completeness against delivering what we need. Those components, along with the whole of our new “data driven front end” for will be reusable for other HackIT services in future.

We continue to work well together as a team. Meetings are productive and we are able to make decisions together quickly when needed. When needed people are reviewing and responding to each other’s pull requests quickly. And having code-owners assigned has meant that the back-end work is now more visible than before. 

Extra development support. Bukky has joined the team to help with backend development. The plan is for him to focus on defects work, to help keep this off the plate of Mirela and Liudvikas. And elsewhere there is a new React developer who is supporting Hackney on another project which also uses React. This means that we can share responsibility for React-ifying the Hackney pattern library, which will hopefully help us go faster.  

Learned things

We’ve found a way to speed up the process of react-ifying the Hackney pattern library. This task was more time consuming than we had anticipated, because of the way the original GOV.UK patterns (which we inherit from Hackney’s pattern library) are designed. We have agreed on a way to speed this up and will document and areas where we think related work may need to be done in future. 

Difficulties

This has been a challenging sprint with a few setbacks. This has meant that we haven’t made as much progress as we wanted to. We have reflected on these issues as a team, and we feel that there are some changes we can make which will keep the project on track. This includes streamlining our approach to React-ifying the pattern library (see above), pairing together on code reviews (to minimise the back-and-forth), and making sure we have a solid handover plan in place for when the DXW contract ends and HackIT developers continue to work on Manage a Tenancy.

Making some technical decisions later than we could have. We came to a technical architecture decision about how to implement the React components that we could have done sooner. This has had a knock-on effect on our ability to deliver everything we wanted to this sprint. 

We need to plan carefully about handing over the new front-end work we’ve been building. At the moment it’s not completely clear who in HackIT will be upskilled on this work before DXW leaves but we’re in discussions about it and hope to have some clarity next sprint.

Team handovers got in the way of backend work. Shweta’s departure meant we had to spend time handing things over. This – coupled with scheduled leave – got in the way of setting up the cloud infrastructure and pipeline. This will continue as we onboard Bukky to take over some of the defects work, but hopefully we’ll see a net benefit to feature work.

Writing comprehensive documentation is time consuming, especially when it’s not clear who the audience is. As a result of the uncertainty on who will pick up the front end work after DXW leaves  we are writing very comprehensive documentation to allow anyone to pick up the project. Getting feedback on this documentation will help us understand which parts are most / least useful, so that we can prioritise accordingly. We have asked Emma Lewis (as a proxy for whoever will take over this work) to spend some time at the beginning of the new year using the tools we have built, with enough time for us to iron out the documentation, and make any changes needed.

Acknowledgements

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

What’s next

Next week we will:

  • Continue adding components to the React component library.
  • Finish setting up cloud infrastructure and pipeline.
  • Continue building Tenancy and Household Check – we’ll be focusing on the ID & Residency and Review & Submit steps, along with the start and end pages for offline syncing.

The following people will be working on the project:

  • Bukky
  • Chris
  • David (except Monday)
  • F (except Monday)
  • Gill
  • Lorraine
  • Mirela 
  • Richard (except Monday and Tuesday)

Hackney Re-Platforming Weeknotes Week ending: 2019-11-15

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 are mobile coverage blackspots
  • 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 2 are to:

  1. Finish putting everything in place to deploy code we’re working on. We’ll do this by setting up the cloud infrastructure and updating the pipeline. 
  2. Be able to demo how Tenancy and Household Check will work offline in a browser. We’ll do this by:
  • Rebuilding some of the process steps in React
  • Putting in place a simple API layer to demonstrate that we’re getting data out at the right points

Good things

User research and design. Gill continues to do sterling work with the Housing Officers and Area Housing Managers both for getting continuous feedback about the page designs for the replatforming work but also in relation to potentially raising issue tickets on the current system. 

Backend work is in a good place. The infrastructure and CI pipelines are nearly complete in AWS. We’re in a good place regarding our API design and implementation. 

Clear sprint goals that we achieved. We’re doing well burning down our work tickets. It might be a bit tight between now and the end of the sprint but we’re confident we can get everything done.

Learned things

We need to undertake a full Privacy Impact Assessment. David spoke to Katharine this week and she indicated that, given the level of changes in the service since the last PIA, we need to do a new one. David’s filled out an initial draft and sent it around the team for review. 

Setting up infrastructure and CI pipelines is tricky. We’re definitely getting there and it should be finished this sprint but it’s been a learning journey. What we’ve learned will definitely help other projects doing the same thing in future.

Emma L.s time is at a premium. Emma’s input on the front-end development for the replatforming work is vital but she’s spread across many other projects so it’s important that we manage our time with her well.

Flexibility with incoming issues on the existing system. We need to be able to cope with high priority defects in the existing system as well as the new feature development work.

Creating a system from feature end-to-end (front-end) testing is hard. We have some idea of how we’re going to do this but need to get it finalised and agreed with Emma and Rashmi before we start implementing it next sprint (and ideally turning it into a new HackIT standard).

Difficulties

Knowledge transfer (especially for the front-end work). One of our project goals is to enable Hackney to support, develop and deploy future improvements more quickly.  We’re actively planning how to mitigate this. We have a number of ideas we’ll be discussing next week.

Helping the team focus. We’ve had a walk around the HSC and found some quiet spaces on other floors that the team can use when they need some focused time. 

Managing scope and workload for the team. This is still an issue. We’re still flat-out Monday to Thursday delivering the features for the replatforming work but at the same time we’re receiving high priority issues in the existing system that need to be addressed. These are still interrupting allocated feature developer time rather than coming in via Planning. This is something we need to discuss again in our next retro.

Involving the rest of Hackney.  We’re going to send the invites to the next show and tell invites out on Monday. We’re hoping that by being in Queensbridge more Housing Officers and Area Housing Managers will attend. We’re also going to ensure that the video of the show and tell is of a much higher quality.

Acknowledgements

  • Thanks to Matt for helping us with Terraform
  • Thanks to Emma L. for continuing to help us with the HackIT front-end component library
  • A huge thank you to Shweta for everything she’s done on Manage a Tenancy over a long period of time. You’ll be very much missed!
  • Thanks to everyone else who worked on the project this week – Chris, David, F, Gill, Liudvikas, Lorraine, Mirela, Richard and Shweta  

What’s next

Next week we will be:

  • Wrapping up the current sprint
  • Having our first demonstraightable product!
  • Starting to test offline working
  • Continue adding components to the React component library
  • Complete the Terraform and CircleCI work needed to push both front-end and back-end components into production
  • Staring to put our front-end testing strategy in place
  • Doing our second show and tell – this time at Queensbridge

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

  • Chris
  • David 
  • F
  • Gill
  • Liudvikas
  • Mirela
  • Richard
  • Lorraine : only Monday, then on holiday
  • Shweta : only Monday then leaving HackIT 🙁

Manage a Tenancy Re-Platforming Weeknotes Week ending: 2019-11-15

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 are mobile coverage blackspots
  • 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 2 are to:

  1. Finish putting everything in place to deploy code we’re working on. We’ll do this by setting up the cloud infrastructure and updating the pipeline. 
  2. Be able to demo how Tenancy and Household Check will work offline in a browser. We’ll do this by:
  • Rebuilding some of the process steps in React
  • Putting in place a simple API layer to demonstrate that we’re getting data out at the right points

Good things

User research and design. This aspect of the project is going really well. We’ve had good feedback from Housing Officers and we now have a clear scope that strikes the right balance between having a stable scope and improving the service. It is reassuring for the team to know that feedback from users is being fed into the project.

Backend work is in a good place. Technical decisions we’ve taken about the backend have reduced the amount of effort required, which we are very happy about. We’re happy with the database solution that we settled on, and the team are excited about the direction this work is taking. 

Clear sprint goals that we (largely) achieved. The team felt that the goals for the first sprint were clear, and we have done well at delivering nearly everything we set out to. We can still make this better, for example by breaking big tickets down more to improve visibility of what’s been done at any given time. 

Learned things

Areas of patchy connection. We were given a steer by housing officers on particular areas of Hackney where they experience poor signal. This will help us properly test the rebuild processes for offline working. 

Saving images to the cloud. We were hoping to reuse the API that the Manage Arrears project created for saving images to the cloud. Unfortunately it’s very specific for their project and is not something that we can reuse. We will need to create a new API to handle image saving and retrieval. 

Offline storage. We need an offline store in the browser, and settled on IndexedDB. We had a number of issues working around the fact that it’s not implemented in Node environments (where we do our development), so testing it was challenging. We worked it out and now have a relatively clean API for interacting with it that we can test outside of browsers.

Documenting TypeScript. We built some tooling around automatically documenting the frontend libraries using TypeDoc. This will save us a lot of time in the long run in documenting the code we’re writing, and ensuring it can be used by people who weren’t around for the writing of it.

Difficulties

Knowledge transfer (especially for the front-end work). One of our project goals is to enable Hackney to support, develop and deploy future improvements more quickly. It’s important that a Hackney front-end developer is involved during the project; bringing someone up to speed through only show and tells, or at the end of the project, will not give them enough context to successfully build new processes and maintain the current ones. The developers and Emma met to sync up on what we’ve been doing, which was really helpful. We’ll be doing these every week going forward.

Helping the team focus. The collaboration space is fantastic for bringing people together, but unfortunately it doesn’t always lend itself to doing focused development work. Noise levels can be quite high; to mitigate this we agreed that it’s ok for people to find a quieter space to work from when they really need to focus (although we’re still encouraging people to sit together as much as possible to keep the communication open. 

Managing scope and workload for the team. Achieving our goals means managing our scope carefully. But there is also a need to fix defects with the service. We’re exploring how we can address defects without affecting how we’re going to meet our commitment to deliver the replatforming work.

There are also new features that have been identified through Gill’s user research interactions with housing officers. These new features can be prioritised, along with our existing backlog, when the current round of work is complete. 

Involving the rest of Hackney. We had our first show and tell this week, and whilst it ran smoothly we would have liked more colleagues from HackIT and the Housing team to have joined us. We’re particularly keen to engage Area Housing Managers and Housing Officers as their feedback is valuable to the project. It will also help us better manage expectations and scope. We’re going to run Show and Tells from the buildings where the Housing team tend to be based; hopefully this will engage them more in what we’re doing.

Acknowledgements

  • Thank you to Emma for continuing to stay in the loop on the project as much as you can., given all the other things you have to focus on. 
  • Thanks to everyone else who worked on the project this week – Chris, David, F, Gill, Liudvikas, Lorraine, Mirela, Richard and Shweta  

What’s next

Next week we will be:

  • Continue adding components to the React component library.
  • Finish the last parts of the data-driven frontend that need to happen before we can start working on processes.
  • Starting to rebuild the Tenancy and Household check process so that it works offline. We’ll focus initially on the steps that will take the most effort to make offline work properly. 
  • Putting in place the backend infrastructure and plumbing, so that people can demo the Tenancy and Household Check via a browser. 

The following people will be working on the project:

  • Chris
  • David 
  • F (except Monday)
  • Gill
  • Liudvikas
  • Lorraine
  • Mirela (except Monday and Tuesday)
  • Richard
  • Shweta (except Monday and Tuesday)