International Women’s Day HackIT 2020

One of the great things about working in HackIT is having opportunities to promote inclusion and empowerment. To celebrate International Women’s Day, colleagues* came together to ‘Sing it, Loud and Proud’. Our focus was on celebrating the achievements of women across all our HackIT teams.

We recorded 30 achievements and ambitions of women from different backgrounds and at different stages of their careers. These were matched by over 25 pledges of encouragement or support. There is a lot of interest in learning developer skills and increasing confidence levels when public speaking. It was great to talk openly about our dreams and offer each other a helping hand in accomplishing them.

This was definitely one of the highlights of this year so far. Listening to colleagues proudly talk about themselves and overhearing the nudges of encouragement like e “didn’t you help save the organisation £97K”. It is a telling reminder that we don’t always recognise our individual acts and acknowledge the wider beneficial impact these have on our services – let alone talk about them!  

Following a great turn out and inspiring conversations, we are keen to maintain momentum. We plan to give those who missed the celebrations an opportunity to get involved by adding more goals and pledges to our list. We will do some strategic matchmaking and have a follow-up session in a few months time to see how our seeds of ambition are taking root and bearing fruit.  

‘Sing it, Loud and Proud’

Happy International Women’s Day HACKIT 2020!

*Women and men

Manage Arrears weeknotes: w.c. 23/2/2020

*Phase 3*

Phase 3 of Manage Arrears has come to an end 🙁

It has been a brilliant phase and we are proud to have Rents caseworkers onboard. The project has been left in great shape for the next team. The backlog has been neatly groomed and the business case is currently on the Digital marketplace

Successes

  • Before the project closed, Richard from Made Tech and I met with our Product Owner and his team to close the project down. It highlighted the project’s challenges and achievements. It was a very good session and our Product Owner indicated that this phase was definitely a success. 
  • SMS Automation has now been running for four weeks now. Approx. 100 SMS have been sent, reminding tenants with low arrears to make a payment.
  • During the last week of  our project, we implemented the redesigned case details page, another quick win with a big impact. The redesign was inspired by the Single View and tested with users. It meets accessibility standards making case details easy to review. 
  • We switched on letter automation on 10/2/2020, for patches W2 and W3. 146 letters were successfully triggered and sent to Gov Notify since then automation has been running smoothly and over 300 letters have been sent with zero failures.

Challenges

Switching on the automation of letters was delayed as the data warehouse didn’t work as expected when Manage Arrears was due to be switched on. Many thanks to +James Vowles and his team for getting it up and running within the week. As the system is highly reliant on the data warehouse, in the next phase it might be a good idea for the data warehouse to automatically notify Manage Arrears if it fails so automated communications can be temporarily held.   

Special Acknowledgements

Many thanks to; 

+Nick Prince, +Elaine Greeve, +Cate McLaurin, +Miles Alfold and +Alex Demetriou who have all added so much value to the project.

Single View weeknotes: Week commencing 2nd Feb 2020

Sprint 2

The Project

Single view enables staff to see at a glance the complete history of a customers interactions, reducing the time spent gathering information across multiple systems and the likelihood of errors.

Highlights of this week

Alpha Service Standard Assessment

This week +Paul Tyler, Joy Suthigoseeya and Mirela Georgieva assessed our Single View Alpha against the 14 GDS standards. Scott Shirbin, Elle Tweedy, Ben Pirt and Glyn Ashman did an excellent job in demonstrating and evidencing how the criteria were met. The team achieved 12 Fully Mets and 2 Partially Mets. Many practical recommendations came out of the assessment which we will take forward as we move into the Beta Phase. One of the recommendations included sharing how Single View was built with the wider ICT team, as there are many reusable and interesting aspects to it such as display UH documents.

The two partially Mets were related to documenting a plan for accessibility testing and not clearly demonstrating how we’d measured success from the end-users perspective. The assessment will be published towards the end of next week.

More Single View users

Another great highlight of the week included an extra 17 users from the housing register team being successfully onboarded. Next, we are planning to prioritise the Benefits team. So far we have received a lot of positive feedback and users are looking forward to future features being added such as displaying Camino documents.

Staging Environment

Developers, Matt and Katrina have created a staging environment for Single View which means we now have a separate environment to test with. Fewer bugs are likely to be published into the LIVE system improving our users’ experience.

Next Week

  1. Elle and I will be doing a mini Accessibility Assessment on the existing prototype which will feed into improvements for the Single View Beta. We are aware of a few things like Popups which are not accessibility friendly. We will be using the HACKIT guide and Wave App to review more of the system on Wednesday to improve the design.
  2. I would like to improve the feedback loop for sharing resolved bugs with users. This week whilst onboarding the new team we found a few bugs with Single View and I would like to share the outcomes of issues raised by users to help maintain their confidence in the system and with the team.
  3. This week our Developers completed a Spike on displaying Camino documents and we are looking to implement it in production.

Single View Project weeknotes: wc. 27.01.2020

Sprint 1

The Project

The concept of this project is about providing a single view of customer data, enabling staff to build a better picture of a customer’s situation and inform decision-making. It is one of the workstreams which form part of a wider programme of works for Benefits and the Housing Needs service.

FutureGov and Made Tech have done a lot of user research and developed usable prototypes, ahead of me joining the team.

Using the single view, staff are able to see at a glance the complete history of a customers interactions, reducing the time spent gathering information across multiple systems and the likelihood of errors. It supports real-time collaboration between everyone working with a customer.

So far, the systems being used to create this display include; 

UHT, UHW, Comino, Jigsaw and Academy. Caseworkers can create a read-only Single View of a customer with all existing notes from across the 4 systems. It can even display UHW documents!

Single view is currently being piloted by the Housing Needs Complaints team. Over the next 14 weeks one of our goals is to move the Alpha into a Beta, and roll the system out to the rest of the Benefits and Housing Needs teams.

Last week, we onboarded two new developers onto the project +Maria and +Katrina. + Ben and +Matt have been bringing them upto speed with the code by addressing some of the technical debt cards.

Highlights of this week include:

  • We had a really great design workshop with +elle and the team on Wednesday. Elle brought along some design improvements and based on user feedback and the team contributions we came up with ideas on how best to iterate the single view.
  • +Glyn and I have been working on the Single View roll-out plan for Benefits and Housing needs. We are due to start with the Housing Register team which consists of a team of 14. Exciting times 🙂

Challenges

My own personal challenge has been around time management and not being able to dedicate as much time as I would have liked to on the project this week. Glyn our Product Owner and the developers have done a good job with getting on with the tasks which need to get done. 

Key activities next week 

  1. Setting up a staging environment for Single view 
  2. Single View Alpha Assessment 
  3. Next Show & Share, 10:30 5th February 2020, Kitchen Area, Pillar B, First Floor, Hackney Service Centre.

Hackney Poverty Index Project: week commencing 20th January 2020

Sprint 6

The Hackney Poverty Index aims to build a shared understanding of poverty in Hackney by making the most of our local data.

The goal for sprint five was to produce an interim output for our project. +Tim Burke has been working really hard to develop our data model and prepare some initial outputs over the last two weeks.

We are still waiting for a lot of data in the education, health and housing themes, so for prototyping purposes, we have focussed on bringing together income data. Our draft ‘income’ index includes data on:

– Estimated household income

– Eligibility for means-tested benefits

– Impact of welfare form

– Pensioner poverty

We’re also still working on other income datasets (food bank usage, debt, child poverty), but this limited amount of data has still been enough to develop our model. The initial draft is looking good, however, we have realised that we need to make some decisions as a team about how best to: 

  • Normalise the data (getting indicators into a standard format so we’re not comparing apples and oranges)
  • Handle missing data e.g. where values are suppressed due to small numbers
  • And consider the best method for combining different scores (using either a geometric or arithmetic mean)

As a team, our next steps include workshopping the above in the next sprint and validating the proposed methodology with a challenge group, to help form the basis of the next iteration of the model and its outputs.

+Anna Gibson also obtained access to a cool tool called Hometrack (part of Zoopla) which will help us source data related to average rents and housing affordability.  

Challenges 

Gaining access to data is a challenge and we continue to work closely with various data experts/owners to obtain this.

Next sprint, our goals are to: 

1. Make important decisions about our methodology through team discussion and feedback from our challenge group

2. Follow up on outstanding data

3. Refine our model and its interim outputs