Delivering HackIT’s homeworking service – Devices: weeknote 7 w/c 13/07/20, 20/07/20, 27/07/20

So, after a bit of a hiatus to work on the DfE project, we’re back and cracking on with quite a lot of things. 

We’re now got a few people off with leave but the strands of work are pulling together to help support the next iteration of our homeworking offer, which you can read about here: Future Homeworking project: weeknote 1

Mobile phones: 

This process is now working really well. Colleagues can only request replacement phones (lost/stolen/faulty/broken) now and if they require a new phone (new starter, or existing staff member who didn’t have one before) this needs to be requested  and discussed on a service level. This has been happening and the phones issued are distributed through the already existing distribution sessions. 

We’re now working on how we manage these mobile phone estates across all teams and what we need to do and understand in order to do this.  

Grab and Gos:

This work has felt really stop and start over the past few weeks, due to several reasons and external priorities. However, we have made great progress on this these past few weeks. We have now identified who has the vast majority of the Grab and Go devices and these are now all uploaded and logged in our Asset Register. We contacted 943 users and we’ve now only got 24 that we need to locate. 

This unfortunately did take a hundred or so devices needing to be fully locked and managers contacted before the user contacted us to tell us they needed it, after not responding to previous requests. 

We received approx 30 back and most of these went back into circulation before our stocks ran out and a couple were faulty and have been sent for repair. 

Work on finding the missing 24, understanding why users didn’t respond and also understanding from Temple how the auto locking system works and is managed is now happening. 

Asset Management:

We’ve not got going on really understanding our process so we have a thorough overview of our assets and stock levels. 

We had a couple of attempts at ordering a thing that didn’t go well. This was done before a clear process was drawn up and decided, and led to mistakes and details not being checked as they should. We are now close to getting this done and agreed so won’t happen again. 

Once we get all the Grab and Go data in we’ll be able to fully understand our stock levels, and where all our Chrome devices are. 

This work will then help the Future Homeworking project understand which staff have what when this new iteration of homeworking provision is rolled out. 

Requests and distribution: 

These are still happening and running smoothly. The session now cover laptops, chargers, mobile phones, dongles and some fobs on behalf of the Apps Management team that are needed for two step authentication and can’t be done via a phone. 

The equipment request googleform has now been closed as requests for these are now going to be superseded through the Future Homeworking work

We now have approx 20 Linux machines left to distribute, so these will probably end in the next week or so. 

Once the Linux machines are gone, we’re aiming to clause the device request form. Again, requests for devices for home use, will be superseded by the Future Homeworking process and the remaining items available though the form (chargers) will move back to Ivanti. 

DfE Technology Support Scheme – project note

life fail GIF
This didn’t happen. Honest.

Back in April, the government announced it would be providing free laptops and internet to school children. HLT were leading on this work and took care of the ordering and liaising with schools on the numbers needed. 

The TLDR version is we smashed it! We made some mistakes, and we learned a lot and we adapted and changed approaches as we needed to as none of us really knew what to expect or how it would go. We were thinking on our feet and timeframes didn’t allow us the luxury of a lot of things. 

A lot of what we did on this project can certainty help us in other projects, such as the Future Homeworking project, in designing how we deliver a thing and collate data. 

Also, we all laughed a lot and Christian, Anwar and Shakti (and Bruno) were a brilliant bunch to do this with and worked so well together to solve problems and get things done. 

My aversion to public transport meant I was walking in and home most days. By the end of it I’d walked a total of 71 miles.  

I also went deaf in one ear again due to an ear infection. This caused a lot of amusement. 

What we did: 

To be honest, my first thought on discussing this was ‘I have absolutely no idea how on earth to do this’. 

We had the task of designing and organising the end to end process of accepting the delivery of 1600 devices and getting them to each school as quickly as we could. 

So, no pressure. 

On the HLT side we worked with Emma Claridge who handled the ordering and liaising with the schools on the numbers they needed and also arranged the drivers and vans for delivery from Environmental Services. 

We worked at an incredibly fast pace on this. We knew delivery was due on 30/06/20 so had just less than a week to find a team and work out:

  • Where were we going to put 1500 devices?
  • Who would we need on the team?
  • How would we get them in?
  • How would we log them all?
  • How would we assign them to the destination? 
  • How would we batch them? 
  • How many deliveries could we get on the van? 

Where on earth were we going to put 1500 devices?

We met with Paul Hornsey who kindly lent us Robert House until 10th July. This meant we finally had a hard deadline to get these out by. 

Who would we need on the team?

Sandeep was onboard from the start with his ability to understand how to log assets and ensure we track them properly. These weren’t devices that were going to be managed by Hackney but we did need to ensure we logged them as received and delivered property and onto the asset register. 

How would we get them inside?

We were told the delivery would arrive on pallets and they would put all of them onto the pavement and we’d have to get them inside. The doors to the room we were using and storing weren’t wide enough to get a whole pallet through. This sent my anxiety levels sky high as we needed enough people to help get them in quickly as possible and others to help stand guard to ensure they stayed safe. Oh, and hope it didn’t chuck it down.

Joss from HLT came down to help, Sandeep drove in from Kent and Paul came on site for the day.

The delivery was, alas, 5 hours late and some had to get home as they couldn’t stay that late. Zaf and Colin arrived with the key to solving our delivery headache – there was apparently a big allen key that opened a partition wall which allowed us to access the wide doors to get full pallets in! Just had to find the big allen key. Which we did! Hurrah! And with more help from HLT staff and facilities team we got the pallets in all ok and my anxiety subsided. 

How would we log them all? 

Sandeep had worked on a google sheet that easily allowed the team to log the serial number of each device, the date received and date dispatched. We’d been working on delivery receipts for the schools to sign so were able to log in that these had been signed as received. But still – 1600 devices to type into a sheet is still quite tedious and time consuming. Enter three barcode scanners that just made ife super easy in this dept! Beep, beep, beep!

Lesson learned early on in this – best to scan small batches and check to ensure that all logged on the spreadsheet. The team had got to number 456 and realised that there weren’t the correct number of populated rows in the sheet. Without a way of knowing which had been missed, it was a case of learning the hard way and having to re-scan them all. Going forward, they scanned in 10s and checked the number of populated rows correlated. It turned out there were connectivity issue with the internet dropping out while scanning so the team was now alert to this and managed it better. 

How would we assign them to the destination 

Once we got the names of the schools they were going to and the numbers going to each school, as well as the type of device (Chrome or Windows) we got super high tech and I sat with a bunch of post it notes and wrote out stickers for them – one post it with the name of the school on for each batch of 5 or less

  • Eg: one school had 53 devices
  • I wrote out 11 post it notes with the name of the school on. 
  • The team would scan 5 devices, tape them up and stick one post it note on it 10 times. 
  • The final 3 devices were scanned and batch as a 3.
  • For that school, there would be 10 bundles of 5 and 1 bundle of 3.  
  • There’s probably a much better way of doing that, but in the time we had, we couldn’t think of it. 

How we would we batch them for delivery? 

We received the names of the schools and Sandrine and Marta were able to help in pulling these into a map. 

We knew the van had a min capacity of 100 devices so Marta did a fabulous job of grouping them into local area of no more than 100. This gave us the number of runs that would need to be made and these were what decided went into each batch for each run. We now knew we had a total of 7 batches to get out. 

How many deliveries could we do in a day? 

We weren’t clear on the number of vans or drivers per day so the worst case scenario was 7 working days, which would take us up to 10th. We had to hope all were delivered and no returns! 

As it turned out, we had two drivers and one van had a capacity of 200 devices. We immediately were ahead of schedule and all went home well smug. 

However, in the following days, a couple of schools weren’t open for delivery and one driver was off sick, so we fell behind but then raced ahead with re-delivering failed first attempts and ended up finishing ahead of schedule! But, we had some last minute additions to deliver on the last day. We had to keep everything crossed there was no hiccups and they all got delivered ok. And that they did.

We had one school (with over 100 devices) that we weren’t able to get hold of so these had to be safely stored in HLT for them to deliver at a later date so we could clear Robert House on the 10th as agreed. 

This was a short and fast paced project to deliver and despite so many unknowns and variables, the team performed amazingly well to get this over the line ahead of schedule and keep on track despite set backs.

Oh, and the Mayor popped by with Cllr Bramble. Which was nice. 

Future Homeworking project: weeknote 1 – w/c: 13/07/20, 20/07/20, 27/07/20

Happy Jim Carrey GIF

The purpose of this project is to provide all staff who will be working from home for at least 2 days a week with an enhanced offer of equipment to use. This will be using the existing CHromebox set ups in council building that will need to be removed for social distancing. 

The pulse survey revealed that 81% of staff intend to work from home at least 3 days a week over the coming months so it’s important we’re able to provide and support equipment that meets needs better than the current device request system which was a temporary solution to a fluid situation. 

A lot of the work we did on the device project have given us a lot of insight and understanding of how we can do things differently in this roll out. 

What’s the offer and how will it work? 

Staff will be contacted on a team by team basis and are being asked to tell us: 

  • Would like all or some of the standard offer of: 
    • Office chair
    • Chromebox
    • 1 Screen 
    • Keyboard, 
    • mouse, 
    • headset and 
    • webcam (will only be provided with one set of keyboard, mouse and headset so will need to bring this if you are also going to be working in the office).
  • Would like to tell us about anything needed that is non-standard such as an extra screen, specialist software or any Health and Safety considerations for specialist equipment not listed above.
  • Tell us you are happy with the equipment you have at home and don’t require anything more from us.

What have we done so far? 

We had a great kick off workshop where we decided the main parts of the process and broke down our key actions and decisions that needed to be made. 

We developed a googleform that asks staff to respond with one of the three options above and tested it to ensure it met both user and the temas needs. One thing we learned from the devices googleform bonanza, was it’s really important to ensure the back end pulls the right data you need to do the thing you need to do easily! 

We met with Health and Safety team to understand how the processes work currently, and how they can join up better for both users and for us in ensuring those with Health and Safety needs are dealt with effectively. There are currently a few people who have had Health and Safety assessment, and they are now on our priority list for delivery. 

We’ve got five services who are helping us test this process and in total this week, we sent out the new process to 559 staff. To date we’ve had:

  • 19% returned
  • 23% standard offer
  • 11% happy with current equipment
  • 40% partial offer
  • 25% non standard

I’ll not go into the details of non-standard requests, but it’s throwing up interesting results that show how we could improve our communications on what the offer does and doesn;t include and non-hardware based solutions to staff needs. 

What are we going to be doing next?

We’ve got another two teams joining the testing next week. 

We’ve still got a lot to do, we’re currently squatting in the assembly rooms with a lot of equipment already removed from desks and ready to send out. 

We need to finalise the details on how the logistics of delivery will work. We’ve spoken to the Data and Insight team and while they’re not able to help us produce Amazon-tastic style delivery routes based on postcodes etc, we can replicate how we organised delivery for the DfE project by batching deliveries local to each other. Once we get address data in, we’ll get a better understanding of how this’ll look. 

We’re also pulling together resources and guidance for staff so they can successfully set up and use their equipment along with common troubleshooting guides so they’re able to set up quickly and easily. 

This week, with more responses, we’ll start to get better insight and understanding of staff needs and start to plan deliveries. 

Delivering HackIT’s homeworking service – Devices: weeknote 6 w/c 15/06/20 & 22/06/20

fetch just right GIF by VARTA Automotive
This spanner is more important than it looks.

What appears to be true to form, I said something, started planning, and then a big spanner came and threw itself into the middle of it all. Details of said spanner is at the end, but for now:

A significant development is we now have an official devices team! Colin, Mons and Paul have changed the way in which support is delivered and this meant we now have four dedicated members of a devices team. Anwar is now devices lead within service support and with Ali , Shakti and Zaf they’ll carry on as the devices team once this project ends (which I’m hoping won’t be quite yet as I’m still loving the team!)

As this project didn’t start in a traditional style and evolved from something set up in a unprecedented crisis, now we have a team, I’m keen to ensure we start to work in a more agile way. We have been working in sprints with planning sessions and we have daily stand ups and work from Trello and suchlike, there’s a lot of elements still missing and I’m keen to get these in place. Some of the team have never worked in this way before so I want to make sure they feel comfortable and will enjoy this way of working.

But the spanner came and knocked it out of our dairies. This is quite frustrating, but the team has been great at understanding and we’ll pick it up again in a couple of weeks.

The other significant development is: we’re now out of Chromebooks for staff. Henry is now working on possibly freeing up Chromebox bundles from the HSC to offer staff to use at home insead. This may take a week or so to organize. We do still the refurbished Linux and we ensure staff are aware of the Chromebook situation before requesting.

Asset Management:

We’ve been cracking ahead with this: We’ve got various processes tested and into the live asset register we didn’t have before: monitors, dongles, mobile handsets and SIMs.

We still have a lot more to move over however.

Understanding what our stock levels are, when and how we order things are proving to be something we keep stumbling on. Mainly because pulling together the eporcesses also require us to physically do something. This is to go through and log, tidy, organize and udneratsn everything that’s in Room 11. For those who don’t know, Room 11 is an aladdin’s cave of hardware, cables, boxes of stuff, wires, bits that stick onto other bits to make it fit another bit. It’s a bit of organised chaos in there, so it needs to be sorted out so we know where a thing physically goes so the process can be followed effectively.

This work was started and the team made brilliant headway with it. Then; Spanner. So, this will be resumed in a couple of weeks. It’s also given us something to test another process with: broken/unwanted equipment and how to dispose of it.

Mobile phones:

These are now rocking and rolling. We started to understand what needs to be done with mobile phone requests for weeks abcl. Many requests were from pre-covid days (remember those?) so we needed to whittle these down to see if they fitted the criteria of replacing a broken/faulty/lost/stolen/device and also produce step by step guidance for the team in dealing with these in the asset register. While it’ll be done by the devices team generally, this’ll help ensure this work can be picked up by anybody at any time as it’s now open and transparent across the whole support team.

We tested the process a couple of times on build, asset logging and deployment of the handsets and SIMs and this now works well and is live.

Grab and Gos:

From the 24 who said they didn’t need it anymore and we could have it back, only 20 responded to return requests and of those 10 said they still needed it or passed it onto someone else to use. 4 we didn’t get a response from adn 6 returned them.

We’ve locked the 4 we didn’t get a response form and nobody has rung to get them unlocked, which is interesting.

We also met with Richard Smith about how to approach doing some research with them to understand why they didn’t respond.

So, we’ll need to do another sweep of these to try and locate again.

The big piece of work with those who didn’t respond to our initial requests to tell us they had it, and we know they’re still using it, has now also met the spanner. So this work will need to be on hold for another couple of weeks.

The spanner:

The government announced back in April that it would provide laptops for disadvantaged children to catch up on school work they’ve missed due to the Covid 19 lockdown.

Hackney Learning Trust were given an allocation of 1580 laptops and 195 routers to distribute to vulnerable school children and care leavers across the borough. However they need help in the logistics of premises, accepting the delivery, allocating them to relevant recipients, batching up and distributing them all.

HLT were finally able to put an order in this past week and they are due to arrive next week.

This should take approx 2 weeks to deliver, hence we’re not able to carry on with the devices project work during that time. It’s a very important spanner.

The distribution sessions of devices and mobile phones will carry on though; Jackie, Ali and Zaf will be holding the helm while Sandeep, Anwar, Shakti and myself will be spanner juggling. 

Delivering HackIT’s homeworking service – Devices: weeknote 5 w/c 25/05/20, 01/06/20, 08/06/20

Standard Saturday morning in our house.

The intensity has definitely decreased these past couple of weeks. This has been great as it means I’ve been able to wriggle back into more of a DM role, which includes doing the DM things a DM should be doing. This mainly has meant catching up on all the admin, tidying our drives and Trello boards and thinking about how we as a team work together and what we need to do to make sure we’re doing all the things that make us tick as a team. 

I’m like an agile Mary Poppins! Spit spot! 

I’ve also been able to do a bit of reflecting and I have to say, despite it sometimes being rather intense; I’m really enjoying working with this team! 

We’re still primarily focused on these three areas: 

Requests and Distribution sessions:

These are ticking over with this quite well now. Jackie has worked her magic and got it all working like a well oiled machine, dealing with the requests, the distributions, the returns and the queries in between! 

So thought I’d give you a bit of a stat tastic update! 

We’ve had 217 requests for devices since it was set up on 9th April. Which is pretty good going out of a staff number of nearly 4000. 

  • 29% P1 services
  • 33% P2 services
  • 36% P3 services

Of the 217:

  • 45% received Chromebooks
  • 25% received Linux
  • 21% had an issue where Support was able to triage and fix rather than replace.
  • 8% failed to attend to a distribution session to pick up a device (we give them two chances) 

The reasons were fairly evenly split:

  • 36% didn’t have a device to use
  • 32% said they’re device had broken 
  • 31% said they had a device but struggled to access systems on it – which is where the main bulk of the triaging comes from.

Now time is something we have, it’d be good to analyse these further, particularly as lockdown has gone on, such as those that recently say they don’t have a device, how were they working before? Are there any trends in particular services requesting several devices at once/within short periods of time?  

Asset Management and stock:

Sandeep has been working with Anwar and Ali in understanding and getting down each step that needs to be taken in processing broken/stolen/lost devices, how these are repaired and disposed of. Some of these existed already and some there were a couple of versions of one process so we needed to sit down and decide and draw up one agreed version. 

The mobile phone request process didn’t fully come out of portal (like the others did) so we’ve been working on getting this right first and using it as a test. This means putting each step as a task in Landesk for the team to follow when building and deploying phones and following the process to make sure it integrates with the distribution process. 

We’ve also got to remember that we’re still in a pandemic so things can’t work the way they did before: everything takes longer. Phones can be built, but they need to wait a couple of days before they can be given out to ensure they are safe after handling and given to another. 

We’re doing an end to end test this week to make sure it works and highlight any niggles before we can move it into live. Once we know this is successful, we can start moving over the main devices process away from the googleforms and back to requesting through the portal/service desk. 

Grab and Gos:

This is taking far longer than anticipated and is frustrating us all. 

Of the 643 we set out to find:  

  • 551 replied
  • 24 didn’t need it and said we could have it back
  • 60 said they no longer had it
  • 467 said they still needed it
  • 113 didn’t reply at all to either email we sent.

Priority has been to get the ones back that are no longer needed. This has proved trickier than anticipated. Only 3 people initially responded to us asking for their return so we could send a courier or if they could come and bring it to our distribution sessions. 

We followed this up asking again and we know only have 3 that haven’t got back to us. These will be locked so they can’t be used.  

We got 7 picked up by courier this week, and some next week. Others; unfortunately have been handed to other people, or taken and left in racks in the HSC so have gone missing again. This is incredibly frustrating and once we’ve got these back in, we’ll have to do another check of who’s logged in to them last to locate them. We even have a couple of case of them being refused to be given back – despite being broken. This reason baffles me and I didn’t have any energy to follow it up this week to be honest. 

We’ve got a process ready to go for the 113 not replied and they’ll be locked and in order to use them they’ll need to ring the specific number on the lock message so we can find out who they are and assign them on the asset register (and unlock them, obvs, we’re not mean). We’ll be doing this next. But in stages of approx 10-15 a week, so poor Ali doesn’t have 113 people irately ringing him to get their GnG unlocked. 

I need to do better at my weeknotes (thuplelyweeknote? Not-quite-a-month-note?) and hopefully I wriggle a bit more back into DM mode so i can do this. I think this means my pledge is to, er, wriggle more?