Transforming Print & Post Weeknote 9th July 2020

Weeknote 4 of 6 is here! If you missed last weeks, don’t worry, it’s still around for your entertainment and information.


TL:DR Version

We designed our ‘To-Be’ service blueprint and sanity checked it with users. No one recoiled in horror at our idea and it was actually pretty well received but we need to think more about very short turn around printing needs and how that is best fulfilled. We gathered feedback ready to make recommendations for when the implementation of the service gets underway.

Thanks to those who attended our show and tell on Thursday afternoon. There was a lot of information in it so please feel free to watch the Sprint 2 Show & Tell Video Recording and access the slides (and links to bigger images) of our work. Thank you again SO MUCH to everyone who has given up their time to participate in research and testing on this project We appreciate you!

Next week is the start of our final sprint where we need to design the ‘plumbing’ that will deliver our user experience. It’s going to be exciting but intense.


The Long Read

This week our focus has been on design & test. We spent Monday and Tuesday immersed in working out what our ‘To Be’ service blueprint could look like in order to meet our prioritised user needs. We did this over a series of sessions with the team and focussed very much on what the user experience would be like rather than what providers might be able to deliver the service we want our users to have (that will come later)

We also focussed predominantly on the outgoing post and print user experience as outgoing print and post is approximately five times more volume than incoming.

We ended up with an idea of a ‘One Stop Shop’ for printing and posting that allows you to request print, print and post or post services all from one place.

User goes to the intranet (or to a web address) to make a print & post request or to find out more information. Depending of what they chose, users will be directed to the different sections. Let’s choose the first option.Print Options: Upload files, Job Nam, Quantity, Pages, Job Specifications, and so on. Cost is automatically calculated, users can save and come back later to finish the request.
A little look at the idea. See the full scenarios for more details

Once we had what the team considered a viable offer, we took it to users. Our testing consisted of a walkthrough of key features and scenario based examples. It went well and our ‘One Stop Shop’ idea was well received.

We plan to get further feedback next sprint by running a 1 hour session when interested parties can attend for a more details walkthrough than we gave in the show and tell. If you would like to attend this, please drop Emma an email.

The main concern in feedback was that the service didn’t meet the needs of immediate and ad-hoc need for printing e.g.

I have a meeting in 5 minutes and I’ve totally forgotten to print the minutes!

This is tricky for us as, arguably, our service should not be designed to fulfil that need but, where do you draw the line? If you need something in an hour or 2 should our service support it or should that need be met by some other function (e.g. the multi-functional devices in Hackney campuses or maybe just not printing the minutes at all and using an electronic alternative)?

We will be thinking about this in more depth and talking with other print related project teams in Hackney during our final sprint to make sure that, if we aren’t responsible for this need, that someone else is and that it is being fulfilled because it’s definitely a need!

We held our show & tell which was packed with a lot of work. We recorded it so that those who couldn’t attend can still see what we’ve done (and view the slides).

Our final activity of the week was our sprint retrospective. I did one of my favourite retrospectives activities every during the session called ‘The Worst We Could Do’. During this you imagine what you could do to ensure the next sprint is a failure. It’s a great way to get your team to focus on what best practises are and how they should be working. It’s also a great way to generate a list of ‘warning’ style behaviours so that you can catch any derailing nice and early. Here’s what we thought we could do to ruin the last iteration for ourselves.

a screen shot of terrible ideas like never talkign to each other again and ignoring our users
I think we can all agree, the team doing this would fail…hard…..

Next week is the start of our final sprint where we need to design the ‘plumbing’ that will deliver our user experience. It’s going to be exciting but intense. We should enable us to answer some of the more complex questions around which edge case needs we can service and which will need something new/novel/different by the time were done as well as knowing how sustainable our service is and what we can measure as success.

Until then….wish us luck!

Transforming Print & Post – Weeknotes 3rd July 2020

We’re half way, weeknote 3 of 6 is here! If you missed last weeks note, don’t worry, you can still read it.


TL:DR Version

Another busy week for the team. Despite challenges around availability, we still managed to form and prioritise our user stories, create user personas and ideate what our new service could be. We recruited for and planned how we will test our ‘To-Be’ service blueprint. We also enacted some points of our retrospective feedback (around the sustainability of team engagement, more frequent breaks and finding ways to lessen the intensity of work so we feel like we can process) which have definitely helped the week feel highly productive but not quite as exhausting.


The Long read

What. A. Week.

It wasn’t an ideal start and we saw our team 2 people down on Monday and a person down on Thursday because life comes before work. Never the less, we have ploughed on and done some great work.

Planning on Monday saw us really take on board some of the retrospective points we identified last week around the intensity of work and time management challenges.

We intentionally planned less work than the last sprint to combat some of those feelings and built in more breaks during group sessions to allow the team to really process what we were thinking about and discussing. We’ve seen this pay dividends through the rest fo the week which I will come to.

We also made sure to add really clear descriptions of what we wanted to achieve with each card on our Trello board as the retro surfaced that sometimes the outcomes of a card wasn’t as clear as it could be.

First up for the week was synthesis. Maria led a great session on this and made sure the whole team knew why they were there and what we were aiming to do.

We had a great definition of what synthesis is to guide us:

Synthesis is…
A process of sense making
Sharing stories and prioritising
Creating a coherent summary of what you know so far

The goal is to develop…
Consensus across the group
A clear journey of evidence for design

Matt Cooper-Wright

Maria had set up a range of activities on our virtual whiteboard software (Ideaflip) to get us into the zone for synthesis. Considering we were 2 people down, I think we did fantastic work to end up with this

digital whiteboard view of synthesis
Our digital whiteboard of synthesis using Ideaflip

We ended up with 34 MoSCoW (Must have, Should Have, Could Have and Won’t Have) prioritised user stories that our project sponsor Cate McLaurin gave the thumbs up for.

prioritised user story tickets

Once we had our stories, we moved onto forming the personas of our users who have these needs.

As Junior described in his session, personas are fictional characters, which you create based upon your research in order to represent the different user types that might use your service, product, site, or brand in a similar way. Creating personas will help you to understand your users’ needs, experiences, behaviours and goals.

We decided we needed 4 personas to cover the needs of:

  • high printing
  • high printing and posting
  • low printing
  • low printing and posting

We also decided to factor in working preferences and levels of digital literacy as these were also key things when designing a service fit for all.

During this process, we identified that we didn’t quite understand the low printing persona’s motivations as much as we should so arranged a last minute interview to pick up on this and make sure we were representing our users as accurately as possible.Thanks to our Council colleagues in HR who supported this.

Our personas are Adrian, Carole, Nikita and Ibrahim. Expect to be seeing their persona boards in the show & tell next week!

Once we had our personas, we could start thinking about how we can meet their needs in ideation. At this point, I declare Maria the master of Ideflip because, well, just look at it!

ideaflip ideation instructions
These were our instructions for the day

We made sure to assess our ideas against the user stories and rank them as meeting, not meeting or kind of meeting the prioritised needs of our users. We also made it clear when our ranking was given based on an assumption and captured what that assumption was so that we take that into careful consideration when doing a more granular design and feasibility assessment later.

Our completed ideation assessment against user needs
We assessed our ideas against the prioritised user needs.

Finally, we made tweaks to who will be working on the project and when. We will now have Colin (from the print team) Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday rather than just Monday & Wednesday. Tony will continue on Tuesday and Thursdays. Yhanieke and Claire (from the corporate business support team) will continue to be available on all project days (Mon – Thurs) until the end of the project. We really are hoping this will help to reduce some of the feelings of ‘disjointedness’ that came out in the reto that we felt weren’t sustainable. As always, we will be keeping an eye on this and seeing how it works.

And that is where we left the week! The rest of our time was spent tweaking and making arrangements for research next week, drawing up the to be blueprint and generally patting ourselves on the back for another great weeks work.

In an act of supreme cruelty, I’ve left all these pictures too small for your to read properly because I’m going to make you wait to see the user stories, full personas and the to be blueprint until the show and tell next week.

This is because we want to be able to present the full story of the service and for all the context to be together when we do. The best place to do that is a show & tell so, if you can’t attend live, keep your eyes peeled for next week’s note where I will be sharing slides and a recording of the show & tell.

Transforming Print and Post – Weeknote 25th June 2020

Welcome to the second of six weeknotes we will be writing for our project to Transform Print & Post at Hackney Council. If you missed last weeks note, don’t worry; You can still read it.


TL:DR Version

This week was all about user research and closing the sprint.

Of the 13 interviews we had booked in, we conducted 12 of them. We designed and issued our survey. We have pulled out the insights into a sheet ready for us to form user needs, personas and service design ideation next week. We held our first show and tell (video & slides) and retro.

We met 95% of our sprint goal but fell a tiny bit short on our goal to articulate user needs clearly. We’re pretty close but don’t have anything ‘nicely written’ to share.


The Long Read

We knew this week was going to be busy but I don’t think any of us were quite prepared for how much we took on.

We finalised our discussion guide on Monday ready to start our interviews on Tuesday. We made sure we’d got the team well spread out over all of the sessions so that everyone had the chance to either facilitate or scribe the interview. We managed to interview colleagues from teams in education & schools, children & families, adult services, strategic property, customer services, housing, comms, culture & engagement, legal and others that I am sure I have forgotten (sorry!). We’re so grateful for the time that has been set aside to participate in our research so, thank you to all those who have attended an interview!

We also issued our survey to all those who could not make it to an interview. If you want to contribute to our research too, please feel free to fill it in!

Thank you composition in comic style | Free Vector

We also planned and delivered our first show & tell for the project. Thanks to those who attended our virtual soiree. If you didn’t manage to attend, you can catch up with the recording and slides at your own leisure. I’m not going to include details about what’s in the show and tell here because, well, it’s in the show & tell!!

Finally, we held our sprint 1 retrospective. We used the 4L’s, Sailboat and You & Me exercises to explore how the sprint had gone and uncover our learning and struggles. We also reflected that, although we had done incredibly well on our sprint goal that we had missed the mark by a tiny bit. The only thing we feel we were missing was a clear way to articular the needs we have found. Although we have everything we need to articulate them, we haven’t come up with a ‘nice’ way to do that. We considered ourselves to be 95% successful

The Issue — ZanaAfrica Foundation

Next week we will be focussing on planning sprint 2, articulating user needs, forming personas for our users and coming up with ideas for our ideal service. Hope you’re all going to wait with baited breath for that weeknote!

Transforming Print & Post – Weeknote 19th June 2020

Welcome to the first installment of weeknotes for the new project ‘Transforming Print & Post’


The ‘Too Long, Didn’t Read (TL:DR) Version

Our project kicked off on Monday 15th June. We aim to design a service fit for now which is agile enough to adapt to COVID related changes and have a clear plan of how we will implement that design.

Our core team is made up of seven people who will work Monday-Thursday for the next six weeks. They represent corporate business support, the print room, delivery management, service design and user research.

This week, we have mapped the as-is service and (using the expertise of the team and data about previous usage) identified forty-five potential collaborators and fourteen supporters . We agreed research methods and created the necessary materials.

Next week we will conduct our ten scheduled interviews and also, issue a survey to those unable to attend interviews and begin to pull together our research results.


The Long Read

The project aims to begin addressing the issues we face around the need to print and post in the new COVID world. We face some new challenges (with a large percentage of our workforce expected to remain working from home) and some a little older (poor visibility of the print and post service the Council already offers and the most effective ways in which to use it).

The main aim of the project is to design and test a print and post service for the Council and have a clear plan of how to roll that out. 

The project is following Emily Webbers great ‘Team Onion’ structure.

Our core team is made up of colleagues from corporate business support, print room, delivery management, user research and service design. We are a multidisciplinary team who all met for the first time on Monday. We spent the day kicking off our project and getting to know each other. It was a long day but very worthwhile.

As part of our kick off, we spent time thinking about how we would work together in our new homeworking set up. Something that has been working well this week is having an all day Google Meet that we all just sit in muted until we need to talk to each other. It’s been a great way to have a a simulation of co-location in these strange times and we would recommend it to other teams.

We also agreed our sprints will be 2 weeks long and that we will have a sprint and mid sprint goal. We decided to try out the concept of a mid sprint goal as a way to keep us motivated and really focussed. We’re going to review if it worked at our retrospective.

Our sprint and mid sprint goals for sprint 1 are:

Our focus is to agree how we work together in this new team as we believe that understanding each others needs and using shared tools & methods for working will result in a higher quality of collaboration and outputs. We will know if we have been successful when the team is happy with the work completed.

Our focus is to identify who our users are and engage with them to understand their needs. We believe understanding what currently works and what does not will inform on how to shape the service to be designed. We’ll know we’ve been successful when we can clearly articulate those needs

Sprint Goal

We will know which technology tools best fit our need to organise ourselves and have the whole team comfortable using them. We will have visibility of and respect any prior commitments and constraints of our team members.

We will have identified user groups for our work, planned our research and have made contact with users to ensure their time can be freed up to participate in research over the next week.

Mid Sprint Goal

Our project runs Monday – Thursday so we only had 3 working days left of the week once we’d kicked off.

The focus on Tuesday was to map the ‘As is’ process for the Corporate Business Support and Print Room teams. It’s a big process…

as is process map
Don’t worry, you’re not supposed to be able to read this.

We also began to interrogate data and team experience to identify who our collaborators and supporters are. Our initial list of collaborators was 41 people long.

On Wednesday, the focus was refining the data we wanted to work with and making contact with our identified collaborators. 13 of our list said they would be very happy to participate in research which is great news.

Super Friends (TV Series) | DC Database | Fandom
This is how I feel about our responders

We also began thinking about the kinds of questions we wanted to ask our collaborators and decided that interviews were the way to go to get the insights we need but that a survey is a great catch all so will be doing both.

Thursday was our last day on the project for the week so it was mainly about wrapping up and refining the work of the previous 2 days. We pulled together our list of initial supporters and found 4 additional collaborators who all needed to be contacted. We designed the questions we wanted to ask in interviews and booked 10 of them in. By using our data, we have ensured that our interviews covers teams who do use the service and those who don’t so we’ll get a balanced view of the current state of play.

We ended the week feeling ready for the next, equally as busy, one.

What’s UAT got to do, got to do with it?

Before you start, get comfortable….This is a long one.

The people who build and configure software are, very rarely, the people who will use that software in their day job. No matter how often you’ve spoken to your users and how deeply you understand their needs, there is no substitute for giving a ‘thing’ to users and setting them loose. Never have I ever seen a user acceptance test (UAT) round pass with no amendments which, in my eyes, is the proof of the pudding.

Darth Vader finds your lack of tests disturbing

Recently, I faced users who had either not accepted software before or, if they had, felt it hadn’t gone well at all. This presented me with some challenges; How do you prepare folks to accept software who aren’t familiar with how to accept software or why they’ve been asked to do it at all, especially when their previous experience has been negative? I wanted to make sure we capitalised on the UAT time we had so I knew I needed to address this.

I stripped back to what I consider the absolute bare minimum components of a good UAT and tried to avoid what makes a bad UAT.

hypnotising a user to love the system
This is not how you do UAT (modernanalyst.com)

Here’s what I think you need (at a minimum) for success:

  • Representatives across all the roles expected to use the live system
  • Scenarios that covered the most common types of work the system would be expected to support
  • Clear expectations of what the system should be supporting
  • A way to record what the actual outcome was vs what was expected
  • Enthusiasm & buy in

Colleagues from eight different service areas all needed to work together if UAT was going to succeed. I wanted the team to to know how to do what they’re being asked to do and what good looked like. I wanted them to feel supported to do UAT ‘right’ and safe in the inevitable failures they would have. I wanted them to know that I was on their side 100% because I did not want to end up with this:

I was offered various training courses at high cost to get my colleagues ready for UAT. Spending any amount of money was not really a viable option and the training included from the supplier didn’t addresses what I considered the key points. I could not find any low cost/free ideas that were applicable to our particular situation. I had a bit of a panic so I made a cup of tea (specifically Yorkshire Tea)

Yorkshire tea brass band and giant teapot
Tea can help fix anything

The tea worked.

The team needed upskilling and invigorating to deliver these critical things so I designed a lightweight, engaging way to do that…LEGO.

I engineered a scenario which got 2 teams to UAT LEGO. I tied this into the principals of a good UAT by giving each team different amounts of LEGO and bad instructions so we had the opportunity to learn about what good looks like.

I started with really vague instructions of what I wanted them to do (bad acceptance criteria) and worked with them to identify how that could be improved so the team understood the importance of, and how to create, good acceptance criteria. With vague instructions, these were some of the ‘tests’ we conducted:

As we built better instructions, we found one team couldn’t complete the test successfully because they had the wrong kind of lego to do so. This enabled learning about different roles and why it’s important to not only accommodate them when thinking about what’s being tested but also to actually complete the test in that role.

We also looked at how we could help the team who couldn’t complete their tasks by assessing the feedback we got about what they did and how it went. We worked together to identify what would be useful to know if we’re supposed to be helping them succeed so the team built understanding of why it’s important to record an outcome in a way that allows it to be understood and actioned if it needs to be.

Once the basics were understood, I brought in the industry standard terms to get teams comfortable with the terminology as we needed to communicate effectively and standardised terms generally help with that.

The final part of the session was me facilitating the team to start to identify the roles, scenarios and acceptance criteria for the UAT they would need to run. via the medium of post it notes and enthusiasm. I always related back to what we’d learned in LEGO terms to really reinforce how what they were doing really was the same as the exercise we just followed.

By the end of the session, they had it. They were all confident about how to prepare for UAT and how to run it. We got through 80% of our test cycle before COVID-19 changed the landscape but I am pretty confident we were doing it right due to the amount of issues and queries we were sending back to our supplier. Here’s some figures:

  • Week 1 – 64 issues raised
  • Week 2 – 62 issues raised
  • Week 3 – 52 issues raised

We have yet to get our 4th and final UAT round completed and see just how good our UAT was by releasing the system into the wild but, the team are pretty confident that they have covered all bases to date.

Once the project is back from hiatus and all systems are go again, I’ll update with just how good (or bad) at UAT we turned out to be.