Repairs hub, weeknote 18/09/20

We started this week on a high, with an impressive 37 attendants at our show and tell. That’s a great turnout at such an early stage in the project, thank you to everyone who joined and please continue to do so. These are really valuable sessions, and although feedback so far has been positive we are aware we need to think about how to engage stakeholders a bit more.

Bukky joined us on Tuesday and has cracked on with the analysis of the platform API’s, the existing repairs API and the HACT data model. He has already identified that information relating to a property such as dwelling, description & levelcode could potentially be a candidate for a platform API. He and Evangelos will continue with this research and identifying gaps for new platform API’s or where existing ones could be extended. We’re meeting with the platform API team next week, our work will be closely aligned so not only is this an opportunity to understand their pipeline of work, but also for the teams to meet. There will be a lot of collaboration between us going forward, we think the repairs team will be responsible for identifying platform API needs and the platform API team will deliver on these, though I’m sure it won’t be as black and white as that in reality!

We interviewed the ELA (lift repairs) this week, and found their use really differs from many of the other contractors. The process is very manual, RCC agents raise the repair, take a screenshot, and email it over to the ELA, and if it’s a trapping or something urgent it’s also followed up with a phone call. They don’t pick up jobs from the UH worktray. There’s a whole process after a job has taken place where a list is compiled and emailed over to Hackney to add/check SOR codes, which is then sent back, and only then the administrators go into UH to mark the job as complete. Not only do we need to make this processes easier, we also need to consider each of those individual contracts, what has been agreed in terms of ways of working and whether we’ll need an additional agreement that all contractors will be required to use the hub.

There’s another user group that we’ve yet to talk to, the TMO (tenant managed organisation). The name is a bit of a give away, it’s a group of residents that manage their own repairs and have an agreement with Hackney council with their own cost codes and budget. We know that they use UH so we’ll need to ensure that they are contributing to finding solutions for the new extended hub. There are currently 10 TMO’s and they each manage their own estate, they make up approximately 1/3 of Hackney owned properties so are a large user group with valuable insights we’ll need to capture.


UH dev is still unavailable. It is a priority but the complexity around the recovery means we haven’t been given a timeframe as yet.

Stakeholder engagement is something we need to focus on. The interviews have been really useful, though we are finding varying levels of interest. Workload seems to be one of the biggest blockers, in some areas the person who performs a specific function is solely responsible so any time spent away could have an impact on their day. We will be engaging with the contractor managers next week, plus Paul Fowler is currently putting together a communication strategy for the UH decommission which will also support us in spreading the message on the importance of this project. We’ve got lots of ideas between us, we’re going to put our heads together next week to come up with a strategy.


– Platform API & Unboxed team introduction

– Stakeholder engagement brainstorm session

– Prototype testing with contractors

– Interviews: Finance, TMO, Alphatrack & Axis

– Platform API analysis

– User story writing for the POC

Repairs hub, weeknote 11/09

We’ve had some developer involvement this week which is super exciting! Evangelos joined us on Wednesday, to bring him up to speed we had a session with design to run over the contractor journey’s, the existing repairs hub, and what we’ve discussed in the previous tech workshops. Alex and Bukky our Hackney devs also came although officially won’t be on the project until next week, this was just a chance to give them a refresher and to meet with Evangelos.

We ran a co-design workshop and invited a few contractors that we had been speaking to in interviews to join us in coming up with some concepts for the improved workflow. We wanted to run a workshop like this to validate some of our thinking so far with our main users – contractors- as well as involve them directly in the creation of ideas that would help solve their current issues in their workflow.

There were some challenges in being remote – historically co-design sessions are held in person and ideas are sketched quickly on paper. Instead, here an online whiteboard tool was used to draw interfaces, which actually resulted in some great concepts, but took a bit longer to get everything up and running. Dawn, Boris and Lawrence were very patient, taking the time to give tutorials and ensure that everyone felt comfortable using the tools. The next step is to build on these ideas and conversations into a working prototype we can test.

Lindsey and I also attended the UH decommission steering group today. We presented an adaption of our show and tell slides discussing what we have so far discovered and future plans. The questions and suggestions that followed from that were really useful. It was also interesting to meet with other colleagues who are also working behind the scenes on the decommission work. Our relationship manager Jasmeen and Paul Fowler (comms) are working closely together ensuring the message on this work is reaching everyone in housing. Early engagement is really key to ensure we have buy-in from the people who will be directly using the new service, plus supporting that on a project level we are inviting as many people as possible to the fortnightly show and tells.


– Prototyping following on from the design workshop

– Prototype testing with contractors

– API analysis

– User interviews: Finance, Contractors: Axis, ELA, Alphatrack

Repairs hub, weeknote 04/09/20

After a much needed long weekend, our week started with the first repairs hub show and tell. We introduced the project, and shared knowledge & insights gained over the last few weeks. We received some really positive feedback and support which was greatly appreciated.

Much of the same again this week as last week, but getting into a bit more detail. User research with the leasehold finance team and hygiene services. We had already met with Shane the hygiene services manager which was really useful, but exposed more unknowns so we arranged a second interview with the lead administrator which gave us much more detail regarding pain points and processes.

The 2nd tech workshop took place this week which felt really fruitful. We touched on what was covered in the first session which was at a really high level, and looked at these in more detail.

The authentication log-in process for users outside of Hackney is something we had identified, however once we discussed this further we realised the process that’s currently in place for external users to access UH is sufficient at this moment in time, meaning we can focus on the things that take us closer to migrating off UH and extending the hub for contractors.

We unfortunately didn’t have either of the devs present in this session who will be working on the hub, but our aim was to iron out some of the previous discussion with a plan for the devs to start on next week which I’m pleased to say we achieved:

– Identify where the old API overlaps with new API’s

– Review underlying data model (Using HaCT as a guide?)

– Focus on workflow and authorisation

– Identify how we can pass data to finance teams (leaseholders, recharge etc)

We also discussed resources as this is something we’ve known from the beginning we will need to increase. Prior to the UH migration revelation, the project had been planned with 2 developers, 1 from with Hackney and 1 from Unboxed, that’s just not going to be enough given the magnitude of what’s required. There are some really important projects that the Hackney dev team are working on at the moment, so quire rightly Rashmi needs to look at her roadmap, but I’m pleased we will be gaining a new dev in the next few weeks, AND longer term more of the team who are working on platform API’s will also join but I won’t get too excited about that just yet!

We pleaded...


David Durrant and Chris from MadeTech showed us what they had been working on for MaT. The worktray is something we’ll need replacing from UH, so we were keen to see what’s already in use for other services. No decisions made, but it’s good to know what the options are before we embark on any plans to start building things. We also looked at the doc upload tool, which has just been re-purposed in a matter of days for Hackney education in year application support.


Co-design workshop

New developer Evangelos joining

New builds demo

Repairs hub, weeknote 27/08/20

This week we’ve been collating our findings so far. Whilst preparing for our first show and tell (Tuesday 1st 12:30 please join!), it’s clear how much we’ve learned and we have an idea of what we still need to do.

Lawrence our service designer from Unboxed has been busy working on mapping out the contractor journey for repairs based on what we know so far, continuing to build on this with every interview that takes place. Whilst Dawn is on holiday this week, Lawrence has also stepped in to run the user research interviews.

Contribution from Lawrence:

“Further interviews with surveyors to understand the handover points between that team and contractors. Main insights:

– Surveyors all use their own method to track and manage their own job tickets for example, a spreadsheet with key details and deadlines, organised by month (this is similar to how contractors manage work).

– Using UH mainly for adding notes and reading details (not as a main repo).

– There isn’t a tool currently being used to track or document post-work inspections. Because contractors can self authorise things there will often be differences from what Hackney has on record that need to be rectified.

Synthesising the contractor experiences into one journey and then mapping existing issues on journey, as well as opportunities for areas that could be explored through prototyping.”

We are starting to build a picture of the journeys for each of the contractor repairs. What we intend to provide as a service will be easy to use and clear so that eventually all the contractor repairs follow the same process and in one place. We also need to ensure that we are considering all users of the repairs hub and UH, whether that’s on a read-only basis (the leasehold team) or they are actually doing something with the data (for example finance, who need to pay the contractors for the work undertaken). It’s really critical that we don’t leave anyone behind when considering user needs, and especially when the migration of data from UH to the new database takes place.


– August! I know the rest of the delivery team hear me on this as it crops up in our EDM sessions every week. So many holidays that I don’t believe we’ve had a full team on this since starting. Probably not the best time to kick off a project, we are making progress but slowly.

-UH dev & test unavailability. Due to the recent ICT incident, production has quite rightly been prioritised. There will no doubt be a huge backlog of things still to be bought back to life, and it could be a few weeks before this is up and running.

– Unfortunately, our developer Pudim from Unboxed is going to be away until mid-September. Pudim worked on the hub previously and has a good understanding of UH and the existing repairs API. We wish her well, and hope she will be able to join us again on her return to work. There will be a new developer taking over from the 7th Sept, who is new to the hub so that will take some time and support from the team to bring them up to speed. This means our technical workshop planned for this week has been put on the back burner.


– Our first show and tell

– Sprint planning

– Co-design workshop & prototyping

– Technical workshop

Repairs hub extension for contractors, weeknote 21/08/20

Another week of discovery with the Repairs hub, and it feels like we are building some momentum. With a great sprint planning session, more user research, and a technical workshop under our belt we are starting to gain some understanding of the challenges ahead of us.

What we did

Sprint planning / re-alignment session

As mentioned in the first weeknote, since this initially went out to marketplace the needs of this piece of work have shifted somewhat. As part of the wider strategy to move away from the legacy system UH in the next 18 months (it could even be 17 or 16 now!), we must consider everything we do and whether it supports migrating away from UH.

Our PO Lindsey Matthews has taken a well-earned break this week, so we had Richard Earwaker and Barnes Cook take the reigns in her absence. This was the second session between Unboxed and our stakeholders, but the first walking in with the knowledge of ‘binning’ UH, and that really helped to guide us. Most importantly, we set some goals. Tom Harrison (delivery manager from Unboxed and former Hackney council employee) introduced the slide deck from the ‘hopes and fears’ section from the initial alignment session. We collectively discussed, re-wrote and agreed upon 3 guiding principles:

Standing over the grave of UH

Moving management of contractor repairs to Repairs Hub

Demonstrating plausible alternatives to legacy systems to internal stakeholders and local government

Walking through the list of needs/wants identified in the first session (we call this the backlog), it became clear some aren’t supported by the goals and therefore are not in the scope of this particular piece of work. The repairs hub in its present state is still in its relative infancy having been extended last year from leaks to reactive repairs for the DLO. There is a list as long as the Nile with improvements and new features that would really help the service, we will continue to capture these potentially for a future spike of work, but unless they are supported by the goals they won’t make the cut in this phase. Having the goals empowers everyone involved to push back on the all too familiar ‘scope creep’, and helps to manage expectations.

Technical discovery workshop

The workshop was attended by some of our Hackney devs, Nick Prince (the oracle of UH), and some of the Unboxed team. One of the big questions was around the repairs hub API (which has lots of work arounds due to the nature of how the data is stored in UH) whether to use it or build a new one. It looks as though building a new API, for the new ‘contractor’ database could be the next step. If we are designing the new database in a clear and sensible format, we can do the same for the API. Either sitting the new API ontop of the existing one or vice versa, so that it talks to the new database or UH depending on whether its a DLO or contractor repair. It’s still quite fresh and we’re probably still digesting what was discussed today, so will follow up with more on this next week (from someone who will be doing the work as they will be able to articulate it far better than my attempt!). Everything is on the table at the moment and open for discussion.


User research

Continue to build on the end to end journey map for contractor repairs

Technical discovery