Hackney Opportunities – Putting users first

Digital Service Weeknotes W/e 31/07

This week, productivity has been at an all-time high. We have made good progress with the ‘Adult Learning’ team, after coming away from a very well received introductory show and tell.

Following on from the feedback received from the ‘Adult Learning’ team, it became apparent that our Show & Tell may not have fully captured the benefits of their team’s valuable work.

One of the challenges we face as a team is trying to find the right message in the show & tells that rings true with all of our teams. We do understand that we may miss the mark on the odd occasion however, we are continually working hard to negate this. I am very proud of the way our team is able to take on feedback and transform that response into something that can actually underpin the thinking around a solution.

My star of the week is Jill Gander, Head of Quality & Curriculum in ‘Adult Learning’. Jill has been fully committed to our project since she became aware of it and has been instrumental in securing her team’s involvement for every ‘Adult Learning’ key touchpoint in the project lifecycle. If it wasn’t for her dedication, we would not be making half of the progress we are making currently. Thank you, Jill!

What we have achieved

We understand that with change comes it’s a fair share of challenges but we are fully committed to ensuring that we deliver on what we have set out to achieve. This week our team’s resilience has been a testimony to this mindset.

  • Adult learning demo of CMS updates |  As previously mentioned, we did face some challenges this week. Earning the trust of the Adult Learning team had previously been a challenge, however, a major turnaround happened during our demo session show causing our recent developments. Jill Gander happened to be present in that demo session. It really was encouraging to see the response from her and colleagues and receive such positive feedback on the work presented.

“One of the features we particularly like in the prototype is the option to include learner testimonials to promote each course. This is something that is really quite welcome.” (Jill Gander – Hackney Opportunities Show & Tell   -28/07/20)

  • Building our MVP database | This piece of work is in progress. We are now populating the database with courses which we are now due to advise on. As was previously mentioned, this information existed in a different part of the service but it had never been located in a centralised hub. This I’m sure will prove to be hugely helpful for the service as a whole.
  • 16-24 further developments | Having kicked off with this work recently, we have been able to start organising and documenting our findings which we aim to present to the rest of the team at the end of our current sprint.

What has been challenging

  • We are on quite a tight deadline, so we are really pushing to get our database for the MVP populated with as much current and available data on courses as possible. However, as not all the data is stored centrally and staff resource is limited at the moment, it is proving to be a bit of a treasure hunt.
  • The 16-24 NEET ‘Not in Employment Education or Training’, category still requires more cases in the upper age bracket for our team to research. If anyone in the wider audience knows of any individuals who fall into the category and would like to participate in our research for the employment industry for this particular demographic, then please get in touch with, amyrainbow@wearefuturegov.com  or tom@wearefuturegov.com

Next steps

  • Demo completed MVP so far
  • Present findings from 16-24 research
  • Get approval for our new front end design from the Hackney brand management team





Hackney Opportunities – What’s in it for the young people of Hackney?


Hackney Opportunities week notes W/e 17/07

In the face of an economic down turn our society still seems eager to rebuild. No where else is this more evident than with the job market, especially with young people. Despite the projected downturn at least in the job market studies show young people are keen to make a positive impact

Hackney opportunities has an offering for the 16-24 job market which, if they were being honest has always been slowly taking shape bubbling in the background. Although a physical hub currently exists and is important, its digital offering is in need of  some development. 

The requirement for a digital solution which can can offer a more streamlined user experience is just one of the challenges which needs to be explored before an ideal solution is developed. The projected impact of Covid 19 to the young people’s job market has caused an even greater challenge, resulting in an inevitable ramp up in activities to provide a targeted solution. All of these factors complemented with many more have resulted in ‘Hackney Opportunities’ bringing the discovery for the best proposed suitable digital solution to sit within the current scope of our project.  

Group of candidates from the Hackney apprenticeship scheme

What we have achieved

One of our accomplishments this week has been successfully bringing this important piece of work for the 16-24 year old market into the scope of our project. As a result this week saw us welcoming two new team members, Tom & Amy from Fruture Gov who will be helping us with the Hackney Opportunities 16-24 discovery piece. (Further achievements can be found below)

  • 16-24 employment opportunities | We kick started the scoping and work for the 16-24 offering by onboarding our product owner with the proposed plan of action over the course of the next 4 weeks. We used the opportunity to further define our proposed work streams and hash out any touch points for discussion. The actual areas of research we will be covering in our discovery are as follows; understanding young people’s needs, developing hypotheses and finally mapping out the current offer.
  • Further testing of the new features in our developed CMS | This week we have engaged with some more teams and tested some new features in our CMS using the online tool Menti
  • Mapping the as-is user journey for the Adult Learning Service | The adult learning user journey mapping exercise is now complete. We feel we have reached a place in our understanding of the ‘As-is’ which is now directly feeding into our proposal for improvement.
  • Design the process on how partners get opportunities on the platform. What are the different ways| We are currently planning the best way we can surface the new opportunities on our platform with our partners for residents. We also wish to explore how to make residents applications for these opportunities online much easier.
  • Contact ALS Partners| We have started collecting information on all the Hackney employment opportunity partners with an aim to collect these into one centralised database

What has been challenging

  • As I have mentioned in previous weeks staff leave is something which at this time of the year is un-avoidable however although being managed the impact could prove to become an issue.

Next steps

  • Lock down the MVP offering
  • Build a prototype of the MVP
  • Identify 16-24 candidates so we can begin testing with them and define the best new approach for engagement for that demographic

Hackney Employment Opportunities

Digital Service Weeknotes W/e 03/07

Working from home or WFH as it is also often referred to, historically has always been regarding as a “perk”, especially for those who have never had the option to do so. Visions of staying in a warm bed and pyjamas with a laptop, and frequents visits to the fridge was something to be desired. But in reality, this lockdown period has shown that for many of us, WFH has most of us working harder than ever before. Whether taking on more than we can chew and not scheduling breaks, ultimately has us working longer hours. Something about the notion of the “comfort” of WFH causes you to feel almost guilty, with an urge to want to overcompensate. Striking the balance is not always easy. (Note to self, create more pause moments in your calendar moving forward.

This week I mainly spent the time catching up with my team on any new developments and things which I might have missed whilst away

I would like to put the spotlight Scott Shirbin the FutureGov DM working in conjunction with myself in the delivery of the Hackney Employment Opportunity project. We have many stars on this project but this week my star has been Scotty for keeping everything in ship shape in my absence. In the words of DJ Trevor Nelson, “we salute you!”

Here are some of the highlights of this week:

  • New team members joining as mini product owners | Leading on from a successful mini product owner stint with Elizabeth Andrews from the ‘Adult Learning’ team we have now taken on 3 new product owners and would like to welcome Dujon Harvey, John Kurubo & Caroline Modest.
  • First show & tell| We had our first show & tell last week to the Hackney Employment Opportunities eko system. We had over 40 attendees and the main headline was presenting the project, goals and objectives. The feedback was very positive and we look forward to providing more in depth show & tells in relation to our progress moving forward.
  • Demoing the new CMS to our assigned content editors| We demoed the new wordpress CMS to our team content editors. This has been received positively by the different teams involved as this will mean they will finally be able to take ownership of editing their own content for their related pages without having to depend on one individual. This is perfect for quick editing requirements that most of our teams seem to have as it will allow for a faster turnaround.

What has been challenging

In my previous weeknotes I touched on annual leave having an impact on the turnaround of some of our deliverables. This is now starting to take effect.

Next steps

  • Kick off the 16 -24 employees opportunity work
  • Conduct resident tests and research
  • Understand how we surface the employability opportunities & learning in our new designs ‘How to videos’
  • Lockdown the shared vision statement and get this signed off

Hackney Employment Opportunities – All the world is a stage

Digital Service Weeknotes W/e 26/06

“All the world is a stage and all the men and women are merely players.” 
(Opening line from William Shakespeare’s ‘As you like’.)

I remember having to memorise this sonnet during my younger years on a drama course in school. One takeaway I took from the experience was the amount of work that goes into a theatre production. From the endless hours of rehearsal, to planning the lighting and sound. Another element of theatre production that requires a huge amount of effort is set design and build. 

Now, this effort may vary depending on your budget however, the set design is a very important success factor in production and its impact on its audience. It’s the difference between immersing the audience into a completely new world or utter detachment from it. Needless to say, none of this would be possible if it wasn’t for the production team’s relentless commitment to creating a set design true to the director’s vision. 

My early theatre experience, thanks to this drama course gave me a fond appreciation for theatre which I still have to this day. Until you have worked on a theatre production you can never really appreciate the amount of work that goes into these things. 

Shakespeare Othello.

Staging environments whether they are real or virtual require the same degree of effort and commitment to create the designed vision. Just like in theatre production the creation of a staging environment in the world of web development is extremely important, especially when migrating data. One good developer practice for website creation is by creating a virtual replica of the space you want to build which can sometimes be referred to as a ‘staging environment’. The developer team can add or remove things without breaking whatever is being used in the real space. This week we managed to successfully finish that process and achieve a mile stone. 

What we have achieved

This week we built a website and managed to overcome some of the technical issues we had regarding continuous integration. 

  • User-centric design | The way we have managed to achieve this is through the creation of the mini product owner. I believe this initiative is proving to be really helpful to the team as it is providing some valuable insight into some of the team’s processes and pain points. At the same time, the mini product owner is finding the process rewarding as they can see that they are truly adding value for which our team truly appreciates.
  • Set-up continuous integration | In order for our web build to truly make meaningful differences sometimes you need to push the boundaries of the current set up or design. To achieve this in a safe way we have chosen to replicate the current environment by building a staging environment. One of the challenges we have been experiencing whilst setting up our staging environment is being able to enable continuous deployment. This will allow for updates to our build to be automated and seamless instead of having to do this manually. You can read more about the benefits of continues integration within web builds here
  • Creating a vision statement for our project | This is something that the team has decided may be best done via conversations with different teams to establish common themes. Once we have those mapped out we will draft a statement that encapsulates them all and is aligned with our overarching vision. 

What has been challenging

  • We have had a very productive sprint. However, in saying that is has come with its fair share of challenges. Unfortunately, we are moving into the holiday season and although COVID has been pretty challenging on businesses as a whole. We have all been stretched so healthy breaks have been necessary. As a result, absences in teams happen causing a natural pause in the turnaround on receiving feedback from some of our inquires during testing or research sessions. This has resulted in natural delays in some tasks progress.

Next steps

  • Have onboarding session to CMS with content editors
  • Mapping out ‘as is’ Adult Learning user journey
  • Find out how and where we host the employability learning and training videos

Hackney Works – Putting the user first

Digital Service Weeknotes W/e 19/06

Growing up, one of my favorite shows on TV was “Fraiser”. Most likely because I shared the same dry humor as the lead character played by Kelsey Grammer. He was the show’s creator, which he formed after coming away from a successful stint with the character of ‘Fraiser Crane’ in the hit sitcom ‘Cheers’.

The show was about the life of a Boston based celebrity talk show psychologist and his struggles with middle-age life. Fraiser’s famous catchphrase on the show was… “I’m doctor Fraiser Crane, I’m listening”.

DR Frasier Crane as seen on the hit comedy sitcom Fraiser

The concept of listening and understanding a problem in order to fix it is a concept that is logical yet overlooked in project development and is one of the main reasons why most projects fail after completion. The Hackney Works project has made it clear this week that they will not fall victim to this ill fate.

What we have achieved

This Sprint our team has really put into practice the HackIT Agile value,
‘Service people prefer’  via user-centric design. We adopted this approach within the project successfully by recruiting a member from our Adult learning team to join our team for the duration of the Sprint:

  • User-centric design| We are really using this Sprint to prove our commitment to a user-centric design approach. The best way we feel we can achieve this would be by bringing a member of the external team which we will be digitalising their current service to come on board to fulfil an almost micro product owner role for the duration of the Sprint. Leaning on their specialist knowledge and expertise will help reduce the potential to miss any of the micro details and potential pitfalls that might have typically been overlooked if such a role never previously existed.
  • Onboarding our other teams| As I have eluded to in previous week notes this project will touch on other services and teams within the Hackney works echo system. This initial meeting’s main focus will be to benchmark and formally announce our vision goals and objectives for our project to all the team leads. As we want to ensure we have an open discourse throughout the project lifecycle meetings like this are important to encourage two-way conversions between the teams working on the project and the teams on the ground.
  • Roadmap with a clearer picture| We managed to agree on the roadmap which highlights some of the key stakeholder engagement points throughout the lifecycle of our project as well as some of the milestones we hope to achieve during our project rollout.

What has been challenging

  • This week has been very much a tech-based challenge as we are finding the deployment of our current build into a Hackney ICT staging environment rather challenging due to some configuration issues. 

Next steps

  • Demo CMS current development to the Adult Learning team
  • Show & Tell
  • Begin to include other teams in our digital improvement conversations
  • Present our findings from the ‘Adult Learning’ workshop to the Adult Learning team
  • Fix current migration issues so we can enable continues deployment