Manage Arrears Weeknotes: w.c. 8/7/2019

This week has been quiet for Manage Arrears.

The Leasehold team continue to use the bulk sending tool. They run another batch of letters this week. No bugs or concerns were reported or highlighted during the runs. It is rewarding to see the snags settling, the team independently using the system and less support required to process letters.

Over 1000 service charge letters, with a value of over £1,000,000, were put through the system in 3 minutes!!!! Of the 1000 letters, only 4 failed to meet Gov Notifies validations and were manually printed and posted. We already have a task in our backlog to rectify this, by moving the address lines up slightly.

The Income Collection team were shown how to set up templates within Gov Notify so they can make use of Gov Notify for SMS rent campaigns. Feedback was that it is easy to use.

Next week: We plan to investigate how entries recorded in the arrears action diary via the APIs effect Universal Housing.

Talent Acquisition Weeknotes: w/c 1.7.19

The Talent Acquisition Discovery is a new project which commenced this week. It is a small internal project, which will help us think about how we can successfully recruit high quality staff.

Why are we doing it?

We want to build in-house capability so we have more operational flexibility and reduce cost. We face many challenges when recruiting, these include;

  • Matching supply and demand
  • Competing with other local authorities and private sector companies for high-quality candidates
  • Practitioners preconceptions of working for local government

What has been done so far…

  • Started by meeting with a few managers to understand how they recruit in our department
  • Gathered statistics from HR on recent ICT adverts.
  • Mapped the recruitment process for Contractors and Permanent/ Fixed term contract staff.

Findings so far …

  • Generally, ICT recruit in response to an increase in demand, someone leaving, or because a position is hard to fill.
  • Due to the nature of our projects recruitment is often reactive opposed to planned.
  • It maybe useful to consider a hiring plan to manage the ongoing demand more effectively.
  • It maybe useful to have a Programme Lead with oversight on all projects. E.g. Someone who can challenge the need for a resource, forward think and support the allocation and demand for new and existing resources.

What’s next?

  • Exploring the option of a HackIT hiring plan
  • Talking through options with Senior Management

Manage Arrears: Weeknotes w.c. 24/6/2019

This week, two key events took place on the Manage Arrears project, these included;

  1. Manage Arrears Deep Dive
  2. Post-Mortem into the delivery of the Manage Arrears – Service Charge Letters

Manage Arrears Deep Dive
Manage Arrears Deep Dive was facilitated by +Cate McLaurin and attended by key project stakeholders to understand the progress, benefits, constraints, challenges and opportunities that have been identified through the work to date on Manage Arrears. The session was very insightful with the key outputs including a collective view of the MVP and an action to move phase three’s business case forward.

Manage Arrears Service Charge Arrears Letters Post-Mortem
Since the ‘bulk sending’ feature was released in May, we have recognised that there has been a number of bugs identified. We have fixed these bugs promptly, including the ones highlighted last week. We thought it would be useful to meet with the Leasehold Service team leads to get a shared understanding of events and lessons learned.

From the Post-Mortem theses were the key findings;

  1. The Data in UH was poor – +Nick Prince carried out a lot of data cleansing in UH, cleaning up the addresses, sorting out the postal codes and town fields. This process has vastly improved the quality of the data to the extent that the team were able to send over 1000 letters yesterday, with ‘zero’ address validation failures.
  2. In the future, we will test UHT codes from the front end and backend to ensure there are no errors.
  3. Our staging (test) environment does not match the Production (Live) environment, this is something we will look into. In the interim, it is good practice to send a single letter in Production each time a new template is added.

Good news: The Leasehold Service team produced 1134 letter this week, which took approx 2 mins to run. Four of these letters failed because the address was just outside of the printable. We have added a card to the backlog to address this. This meant our error rate reduced to 3% which means we are 21 times more efficient than when we completed the first run back in May 🙂

Manage Arrears: Weeknotes w.c. 17/06/2019

Written by Guy Whitfield

This week, a week of project introspection, we followed up on our recent backlog curation with an exercise in extracting all the higher level epics and turning them in business beneficial themes that can be used to inform the business case for Manage Arrears.

We spent time collectively carrying out a similar exercise on the results from the Priority Scoring workshop/round table that we held with the Income Collection team – we’ve taken the 17 different requirements from the team and created a living document in which we’re able to concisely describe the conditions which affect a tenants case relating to the weighting that that case should have in an income Agents Work tray.

A similar exercise was undertaken at the inception of this project with the results informing and algorithm which automates current income Office case assignment in our app. What we can see from the Income Collection teams desires for their worktray and the results of the already in place via our algorithm is that there is a lot of overlap – this is a good thing. It signifies that in our next phase as we hone the user experience for the application, it’s not so much the opinions of a team or a robot that are tilted in either direction – they largely agree with each other – its the manner in which that agreement is surfaced and presented. Challenge accepted!

We met with out Product Owner this week and spoke about our findings, it’s the start of a new relationship so we’re keen to be as transparent an open with him. He was accepting and interested. He’s obviously keen to see that where we take the next phase reflects good value both for our residents but also fiscally. With that in mind we’ll be helping to put forward our identified themes and benefits as something which we can use to base the business case for the next phase on.

Finally, a sting in the tail. Our internal users in the Leasehold team used the app this week to send letters, so far so good you might think. In recent weeks we’ve reported how well this is going. This week something different happened though. We noticed that instead of being processed by Gov Notify the next day our letters weren’t processed. We ran some diagnostics and discovered one variant of our letters was being processed and stored by our app but was not being sent through the external service. The signifier was our callback to Gov Notify status. We have visibility in the app of this for exactly this reason.

It would of course all come together on a Friday, hence the lateness of this Week Note submission (Sorry Rob). Through a combined effort with the Leasehold team, Third-party developers, our own API team and confirmation from the team at Gov notify, we have uncovered a missing identifier in one of our legacy systems. We’ve raised a ticket for the relevant fix with our ICT team, but given it’s late on a Friday the fix will have to wait until next week. We will work to ensure we restore happiness and trust with our internal stakeholders next week.

The fault wasn’t in our app, but the issue directly impinged our internal users with that in mind we have noted some learnings around dependencies and the need for inter-team collaboration since we’re beginning to use at LBH the PAAS (Platform as a service) model. As the output of our teams become less standalone and more integrated then the need to consider dependencies is vital.

Why highlight it here? We firmly believe in the core values of transparency and openness. Sharing our experiences and learnings it good for the wider audience if occasionally painful for the team.

Next Week:

We’ll work with Leasehold to ensure all relevant letters are correctly sent. We’re also taking part in a deep dive on Manage Arrears with senior stakeholders from both Housing and ICT and all involved teams. We have also promised a draft business case to discuss with our Product Owner later in the week.

Manage Arrears Weeknotes: w.c. 10.6.2019

This week began with our Manage Arrears Service Standard Assessment, which took place on Monday. We met all standards, apart from two which were ‘Partially Met’. The critique received on these was valid and the recommendations for improvement will be taken on-board. The two partially met standards were;

Criteria 2 “Ensure a suitably skilled, sustainable multidisciplinary team, led by a senior service manager with decision making responsibility, can design, build and improve the service”.

Criteria 8 “Test the end-to-end service”.

I would like to thank all of our participants for their commitment, preparation and for really engaging during the session. A special thanks to Trish Hadden who stood in for our Product Owner at the short notice and many thanks to Faisal Gajia for joining the panel as our external assessor from Newham. Faisal mentioned it is nice to see organisations take time to review their products and services and that this is something he will share with Newham. The complete version of the assessment will be circulated shortly.

This week we also facilitated a Priority Scoring workshop with the Income Collection Team. The Income Collection team have a clear vision of how they would prefer their cases to be ordered and as a by-product, we identified a few extra opportunities for automation.

Bugs: Concerns were raised by +Rashmi Shetty’s team this week in relation to the congestion caused by the Income Collection API. It was affecting other services which were trying to query the DB such as production Repairs API. We arranged for Made Tech to refactor the code on Manage Arrears application and deployed it to Live earlier today.

This bug also had an impact on Leasehold Service sending their letters on Thursday. They are now due to complete their next run of approx 800 letters on Monday.

Next week: Our Manage Arrears focus is phase three’s business case.