Hackney Digital Forms w/c 1st July 2019

It’s been a pretty quiet week for Digital Forms this week as most of the team have been busy on other projects. We’re definitely busy preparing for a busy time next week though.

Next week is going to be full-on. We have a workshop planned to build a consensus for what the team means by “digital forms” (we have quiet the range of views!) and whether we can work on a single product to both deliver an MVP and be able to achieve powerful long term strategic value.

Key to that will be debate around whether there are different kinds of developers. There’s been a proposal that folks that can write scripts to connect APIs between different systems are different to “full” developers who write complex business logic and develop APIs. It’s going to be an interesting discussion!

On top of both of those we’re also confirming the service design that’s been done for the potential prototypes, discussing what APIs need to be in place for those to work and getting into the examination of the market by defining our scoring criteria and starting to sort through the many potential options that are out there.

We’ll also be doing our first show and tell to describe our approach to this work so we need to be in a good shape by then. We’ll post the video in next week’s weeknotes.

Plenty to be getting one with!

Manage a Tenancy: Weeknotes w/c 1st July 2019

It’s been all hands to the pump for Manage a Tenancy this week. This is the final week before our current supplier rolls off so everyone has been working really hard to ensure that all of our backlog items have been completed and that we’re good to go for releasing our new services to Hackney Housing Officers.

We’ve had some complex system integration issues but pooling our combined knowledge of lots of different technologies the team has really come together to work through these problems and solve them in record time.

We had another great show and tell on Wednesday. You can find the slides here. The session video is below.

Moving forward there are two pieces of project work that we will be picking up from next week.

The first is completing the selection of a vendor based on this Digital Marketplace tender for a partner to help us do a partial replatforming of some of Manage a Tenancy so it’s more in line with the rest of the HackIT technology stack.

The second is to organise a short “mini-discovery” to look re-evaluate our roadmap of future work. At the moment there’s been a little too much focus on “lift and shift” of existing processes so we’re going to spend a little time going back to service design basics and understanding what the fundamental relationships and user needs are for the various types of people involved in this area.

Expect to hear more about both of those pieces of work really soon!

Hackney Digital Forms w/c 24th June 2019

What’s it all about?

This is the first weeknote for a project that’s been going on for a little while at HackIT now. This one will be fairly brief but there will be much more coming soon.

I’ll go into some of the detail in a moment but first a quick comment about the title. This isn’t set in stone at the moment so may potentially change for the next update. If that happens I’ll make sure I put links in both posts so interested readers can track what’s been happening.

Okay – this work stream is in relation to investigating whether HackIT should invest time (and potentially budget) in a “form builder” product to enable to a more rapid deployment of services for users.

The work is itself divided into three parts.

Prototype service design

This is a piece of work that has been lead by Rahma, with Kirstine’s help, to investigate the user needs for a specific set of HR processes. It will be used as guide to help us decide which “form builder” tool(s) we might wish to use to build a prototype to test with.

Prototype technical integration

This is a piece of work that will start soon to verify what technical work will need to be undertaken to interface the design of the prototype with our existing HR systems.

“Form builder” needs and market analysis

You may have noticed that throughout I’ve been putting “form builder” in quotes. This is because there is still a diversity of opinion in the team as to what the requirements are for any product we might buy, reuse for free (e.g. open source) or build ourselves. The current most important thing for the project is to lock down our fundamental set of requirements as a set of user needs.

At the same time we’re going to start looking at what systems are available that we could use. Our original estimate was that there would be 3 or 4 potential products we could look at since one of our red-lines is that it general GDS Design System widgets. Instead a cursory search has turned up over 12 potential systems we could use. Defining a set of criteria to score each of these again, based on the above user needs, is going to be key to enabling us to decide which small number we’re going to further investigate by using them to each build the prototype discussed above.


I’m personally very interested in how not just HackIT but the much wider government digital community can make use of this kind of tooling to quickly produce services that can potentially be used by multiple organisations such organisations. There’s a number of related projects in various stages of development and support in different parts of government so, as part of this work, I’m reaching out to see if there’s potential for creating a community to discuss what we could do together.

What’s next?

It’s been difficult to get this project going as everyone involved is also responsible for multiple other projects with pressing deadlines. In order to give us some impetus I’ve created regular stand-ups and show and tells. I’ll also be posting weeknotes like this every Friday to show the progress we’re making.

Manage a Tenancy: Weeknotes w/c 24th June 2019

Where we are currently

With one week to go until we ship ETRA we’re finishing off the final set of user journeys. There’s been some discussions between some of the devs and the product owner about some potential simplifications which were checked with a representative set of Housing Officers by our user researcher. A great example of multidisciplinary Agile working that will achieve our goals while saving some development time.

We’re hammering out the final few bugs in ITV. Meanwhile Lorraine has gone above and beyond in creating a 30 min introductory video for that services which she has sent round to all the Housing Officers.

At the same time I’ve been working on a business case with some of the other HackIT DMs to address some of our shared technical debt. That’s been approved so the tender for that work stream should go up on the Digital Marketplace early next week.

Next week

As well as completing all of the above there’s two major things for next week. Firstly, we’re also going to make sure we give the defect list and existing feature backlog a really good scrub. Secondly, we’re going to do a deep dive in how ready we are to launch the next round of feature development and decide if we’re good to go or need to do some additional discovery work.

On top of that we’re starting a piece of work with the HackIT Infrastructure team on investigating some of the network connectivity issues our Housing Officers have been having when working with the iPads on some of our estates.

Very busy week next week but the team’s all pulling together and I’m very much looking forward to us making ETRA available to improve the situation for our users.

Manage a Tenancy: Weeknotes w/c 17th June 2019

Where we are currently

As we come to the last two weeks of the current contract with Made Tech we’re on schedule for delivering ETRA and making sure we’re in a good place to carry on with the next phase.

Housing Digital Strategy

We’re not 100% what the next phase for Manage a Tenancy is going to consist of at the moment. This is partly due to the internal consultation that’s just started for the new Housing Digital Strategy being organised by Jasmeen. This is going to include lots of opportunity for discussions with people in the Housing team as to how we can best move forwards.

This is a 30 minute recording of the first of those workshops.


We’re happy to announce that ITV is now live for Housing Officers to use! Lorraine has created a training video for it.

This week’s show and tell

The slides for this week’s show and tell can be found here.

Unfortunately, the recording for this week’s show and tell didn’t go according to plan but we’ll make sure everything’s good to go next time.

What’s next

The next show and tell will present ETRA and Lorraine will be creating another training video for that service.

Lots of meetings in the next two weeks about the next stage of Manage a Tenancy – we’ll make sure we keep everyone up to speed.