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.

Manage Arrears Weeknotes: w.c. 03.06.2019

Written By Guy Whitfield

This week we have been working towards our Service Assessment which is due on Monday 10th June. We’re confident that we have prepared diligently for a productive and constructive review on Monday.

We have been carrying on with our task in understanding the scope and scale of our backlog which has entailed a thorough review and consolidation of current backlog items and seeking to recognise the themes that we can use to clearly reflect the business benefits which we can bring in not just the next phase proposal but beyond. With that in mind we met with senior stakeholders in ICT, our – freshly returned from holiday – Product owner. We also held a rapid fire T-Shirt sizing session with developers from the currently incumbent third party app develop to help frame scale of task conversations.

We have been working with the ever helpful Nick Prince of the DBA team to reduce the address anomalies seen when we pull data from Universal Housing.

It was a quiet week usage wise from the Leasehold Services Team; we didn’t let that stop us though, we used the time to shoehorn in a bit of guerrilla performance testing to see if the app enhancements that we’ve worked to introduce over the last week have delivered the expected benefits for our bulk sending app users.

To do this we asked the inestimable David Cassidy in the Leasehold Services team to collate a larger than previously used batch of payment references to send. The results were as follows:

Our app took: 4m 19s to process 749 letters for the Gov Notify in one batch.

Is this a perfect world? Well no, International tenants still exist, data errors will present us with interesting challenges to solve in some way/shape/form. The batch used above was run for test purposes – we didn’t send the letters.

What we can see though is that we are smashing our app targets on a week by week basis bringing about time savings for our internal users. Last weeks app took a day to process 1100 letters, this weeks app supports processing 749 letters in a little over four minutes. Next targets will be smashing through the 1000 batch barrier en route to supporting a complete teams patches in one batch (Approx 2000 letters).

Next week: We plan to continue to refine and size our backlog and high-level roadmap. We’ll carry out the Service Assessment and we are going to be running a Priority Scoring workshop to better understand how our users are reacting to the automatic scoring metric our app is applying to their cases.

Manage Arrears weeknotes: w.c. 27.5.2019

This week, two members of GDS’ Gov Notify team visited our office to test a prototype for a new feature they are considering introducing. Many thanks to the Income Collection team for releasing two officers to assist with testing the development. They really appreciated the feedback.

The Leasehold Services Team have also continued to use Manage Arrears this week.

The current stats to-date look like this:

1203 – Total number of letters attempted to be sent

1,113 – Successfully sent letters – confirmed by Gov Notify

49 – *Validation warning – Gov Notify were unable to send due to format

33 – *Validation warning – Correspondence Line 2 missing

7 – Validation warning – International address

7.4% -validation warnings (letters not sent)

*These are bugs we are working to fix

Our developers have now adjusted the letter templates to ensure all correspondence names and addresses fit within the address guidelines specified by Gov Notify. 49/1203 letters failed this validation due to some Leases consisting of multiple names which just touched the red boundary area.

Nick Prince is kindly helping us out by fixing the validation warning relating to line 2, by adding the missing line into UH.

Gov Notify does not currently handle international addresses, these are handled by the team manually. Nick is also going to provide the team with a separate report for these.

Once these fixes have been addressed the validation warnings will decrease.

It took approximately a day to run the team’s 6 patches. We are hoping that this will also decrease further, as we have since increased the memory and number of workers in the backend. This will enable Manage Arrears to load more and send larger batches of letters.

In preparation for the next arrears run in a couple of weeks, we plan to run a test batch to look at the volumes the system can run and to allow us time to pick up any potential errors ahead of the team’s target date, enabling them to run their batches with confidence.

This will enable Manage Arrears to load more and send larger batches of letters.

Next week: We plan to continue to refine and size our backlog and will start to shape a high-level roadmap. Which we will share and adjust with our Product Owner.