Manage a Tenancy : Week notes – 4/10/19

Pushing blocks together

We send out weeknotes to give an update on progress. They highlight things we’re worried about, acknowledge achievements and show progress. They also lay out what we plan to do next. Along with our show and tells, this is the main way you will find out about the project so please read. 

Get in touch with David Durant with any questions or feedback. 

This is a particularly short weeknote, as the project only officially began yesterday.

Good Things

It is very early days, but we’re celebrating that the project has now officially begun. We have only had one day of inception, but the Manage a Tenancy overview was really valuable. The team now has a much clearer idea of scope, and ideas on the best approach are beginning to emerge. 

Learned things

The Inception phase is all about learning, and the first day with Hackney definitely gave us that. It was really useful to learn about the users of the Manage a Tenancy service – Housing Officers and Area Housing Managers. We were also able to learn about the housing processes that we will be replatforming:

  1. Hub and Work tray
  2. Tenancy and Housing Check
  3. Home Check
  4. Initial/Introductory Tenancy Visit

We also learned about the process for Enhanced Tenancy and Residents Association Meetings. Although originally out of scope, aligning it more closely to what we’re doing may save effort in the long run. 

Difficulties What we’re thinking about

We haven’t yet come into difficulties, but there are aspects of the project that we’re thinking about and would like to dig into more during inception:

  • Striking a balance between making improvements and getting the project delivered on time. There are opportunities to improve the service,  but only if this doesn’t impact our timeframe. We will agree on the best approach next week to strike this balance. 
  • Joining up front-end and back-end development. We need to ensure that these two strands of work are brought together as much as possible. The ways of working session next week is a good opportunity to define how we will do this. 
  • Making the outputs reusable. Rather than developing each process separately, we are thinking about developing individual components which can then be configured into a process. This would make it quicker to update the processes in future (and create new ones).
  • Thinking creatively about the Housing Officer user journey. The goal is to design processes that work offline for a Housing Officer, so that they can carry out their work in the field. We should think about this in terms of the end-to-end user journey, as there may be changes we can make to the journey that create a better experience, whilst also minimising issues like patchy uploads in areas of bad signal. For example, is it possible for Housing Officers to “queue” up a set of visits at the start of their day, and then synch them once they return to the office.  

Achievements

Thank you to David for getting all the right people in the room and to F for asking lots of helpful technical questions during the first walkthrough meeting.

What’s next

We continue the inception work next week, which will include:

  • Tuesday 8th Oct – Ways of Working
  • Wednesday 9th Oct – Technical Overview
  • Thursday 10th Oct – Roadmapping, risks and dependencies 
  • Monday 14th or Tuesday 15th Oct – Data migration

We will also start booking in the sprint ceremonies next week, including show and tells. 

Sprint 1 will begin on Wednesday 30th October.

Breaking the tech language code

Here at HackIT we’ve had quite a lot of new starters recently as we’ve continued to expand our capability to undertake in-house delivery of digital services.

Some of those folks come with a strong background in the kinds of technology we use. For example, our developers are all up-to-date with all the latest techniques to do with APIs, AWS, Git and SaaS services.

However, some people come from a background where the above would just be a list of meaningless acronyms. For example, some of our excellent new Delivery Managers have been a little overwhelmed of the barrage of new tech-related phrases they have been barraged with as soon as they arrived.

In order to help new HackIT members prioritise which tech things to learn about first, we did the best thing to do in such circumstances – we asked everyone! We put this spreadsheet together to start collecting technical terms people either thought were important or that they were encountering for the first time. We then ask everyone to self-assign themselves as either technical or non-technical and then rate each of the terms as “critical” (things to understand in the first 1-2 weeks), “important” ( things to understand in the first 4 weeks), “useful” (things to understand in the first couple of months) or “not useful” (nice-to-have’s). When we then totalled up the votes this is when we found.

The top 15 terms prioritised by tech-folks.

  • Front end developer
  • Back end developer
  • UX designer
  • QA engineer
  • Front-end code
  • Back-end code
  • MOSCOW
  • GDS
  • Git
  • Dev / test servers
  • Production
  • Cloud
  • UI designer
  • Github
  • Branch

The top 15 terms prioritised by non-tech-folks.

  • GDS
  • API
  • Local Gov Digital
  • Cloud
  • Server
  • AWS
  • Documentation
  • Front-end code
  • Back-end code
  • Digital Marketplace
  • SaaS
  • Github
  • MHCLG Local Digital
  • Time and materials
  • Dev / test servers

There are many more terms in the spreadsheet.

We’re not going to be providing definitions for these terms at this point. Partly because sometimes they differ between people and we don’t want to start any internal flame-wars! Really though, what we want to do is encourage lots of conversations where new starters discuss some of the topics they’re not sure about with their colleagues and hopefully pick up a lot of other concepts along the way.

We’re going to be updating this list on a regular basis and using it as part of our onboarding process for new starters so especially keen people can have a chance to start getting up to speed on things that may be brand new to them before they even start here at HackIT!

Manage a Tenancy : Week notes – 20/9/19

This week we deployed another iteration of ETRA. Unfortunately it introduced some minor defects. While these were quickly fixed we’ve decided that this is happening too often so we’re going to start doing debrief sessions every time we have a regression after a push to production to find out why and add extra automated tests if needed.

We had another good session to continue to fill out the user journeys and user stories for MaT before the replatforming work with DXW starts on 30/9/19. This time the team went up to the Stamford Hill Housing Officer’s office to work with the team there to fill out the sections related to Tenancy and Household Checks.

We’ve still got more of that work to do but much of what is left may be able to be significantly reduced to work from our digital designer showing that some of the existing pages are sufficiently similar that they can be merged.

We had a good meeting with DXW on Friday morning that has put us on track for us starting work a week on Monday.

We have a good list of teams we’ll need to work with so lining up how we’ll work with them is going to be a major priority. They include the following.

  • Tech architecture (especially for staff single-sign-on)
  • Data and insight (especially for data modelling – perhaps based on the HACT models for Housing)
  • Dashboards (to ensure we continue to produce useful stats for our Area Housing Managers)
  • UX library (for the “reactifying” of our new Design Library)

At the same time our Service Design work to line up both next-steps tactical and longer-term strategic additions / changes to the service is going well and we’re looking forward to their output in the next 1-2 weeks.

Manage a Tenancy : Weeknotes – 13/9/19

  • We’re continuing to deploy the ETRA process and adding feedback from Housing Officers to our backlog
  • We had a good workshop this week updating our user stories for the Housing Officer & Area Housing Manager “hubs” in preparation for the start of the replatforming work
  • We have another booked next week to simplify and consolidate the user journeys, user stories and screens for the individual Housing processes that will be migrated
  • Our design team has been doing sterling work to make sure we’re well prepared for this
  • We have a meeting with HackIT on Monday to finalise the people from our organisation that will make up part of the multidisciplinary project team
  • We’re continuing to have great conversations with DXW about setting up the project team for our piece of replatforming work. I hope those will be completed early next week so we can agree a start date.
  • In parallel great conversations are taking place about the service design that will be taking place in September. This will serve two purposes. Firstly, to line up the next round of new features for Manage a Tenancy after the replatforming work is done. Secondly, to look at some of the bigger picture around the relationship between Hackney Council and our tenants. Excellent stuff!

Manage a Tenancy : Weeknotes – 6/9/19

  • ETRA went live on 5/9/19 and is being tested by Housing Officers
  • Further updates will go into production on 13/9/19
  • We’re continuing to have great conversations with DXW about setting up the project team for our piece of replatforming work
  • Part of that is meaning that we have to have a really good set of user journeys and stories so we have an all-day workshop next Wednesday to review everything
  • We’ve finished reviewing everything in the existing backlog in advance of the Great Clearout on Monday
  • In parallel great conversations are taking place about the service design that will be taking place in September. This will serve two purposes. Firstly, to line up the next round of new features for Manage a Tenancy after the replatforming work is done. Secondly, to look at some of the bigger picture around the relationship between Hackney Council and our tenants.

Excellent stuff!