Back to the drawing (on)board(ing) – Manage Arrears Weeknotes – W/C 29.06.2020

Weeknotes for the Manage Arrears project – this week’s focus is onboarding.

Purpose of these weeknotes

The purpose of these weeknotes is to provide an account and a reflection on one of our more pressing issues, getting more Rent Arrears officers onboarded. This is partly for the team to have a common narrative and also to explore the issues around onboarding in the context of working fully remotely. 

Onboarding background

One of the key things that we are looking to do in this phase of Manage Arrears is to get more users using the system. Currently out of the 14 patches in the Rents Arrears team only two are formally using Manage Arrears.

We had initial discussions about this and sketched out an approach, which would have seen us onboard users in groups of two patches at a time. Patches in Arrears are made up of a Credit Controller and a Legal Case Worker but Legal Case Workers are often shared across two patches. This would have meant onboarding 3 people at a time for several weeks. Until all the patches were onboard.

Onboarding remotely

We were also trying out a new approach to onboarding. The previous two patches had both been onboarded prior to the coronavirus pandemic where much more of the support could take place in person. 

As a result we tried out an approach where we put aside a chunk of time for a video call, where we kept the lines open but with most of the participants on mute. This meant that people could get on with their work but also ask questions if they needed it. 

This had its advantages: people were able to ask and answer questions and we were able to share screens to work through issues. It also had some disadvantages: as there was a lot of conversation, which meant that officers needed to leave to make calls and deal with other issues.

This session highlighted a number of things. The first was that it didn’t make sense to try and get people to start using the new system before automation had been turned on. There were a number of recommended actions that appeared to be mistakes. On investigation the recommendations were accurate but confusing as a result of the different processes and terminology between the two systems. 

Reaching a common picture of onboarding

Another thing that emerged from this was a lack of a common picture within the delivery team about the nature of the onboarding itself. We realised that we needed to be more aligned as to what exactly onboarding people on to the new system entailed and when we should be doing it. 

This has resulted in three concrete actions, the first is to narrow our immediate scope in terms of onboarding. Instead of looking at all 12 patches and rattling through them immediately, we are instead focusing on bringing 2 more on next week. The second is to make sure that we have turned off Universal Housing automation and turned on Manage Arrears automation prior to any further onboarding. 

The third, and probably most important, action is for us to come together as a team and ask the question: exactly what conditions need to be met, regarding the product and the team, for us to be confident to rollout to the remaining 10 patches?

There are a number of considerations, including around features and processes, which are pretty standard for this kind of discussion. In addition there ones that are unique to this remote working period. It is vital that we work through these together prior to planning further onboarding. 

Other highlights

We have really started to get our head around how we will get Service Charge data out of Universal Housing.

We have started to get a better understanding of the processes involved in court agreements.

We have started to refine our first iteration of the design for the Service Charge worktray, when this is completed we will be in a position to refine it further with stakeholders and then to start testing. 

We have continued to implement our first iteration of the informal (or non-court) agreements user interface.

Personally, I’ve been having one to one catch ups with every member of the team. This isn’t something I would normally do as part of my regular schedule whilst working on developing a product. I normally try and have these conversations more informally but this has proven difficult during remote working. I have been having these conversations throughout the week and have found them a really enjoyable way of connecting with the team despite being fully remote. I would definitely recommend them. 

Previous Show and Tells and weeknotes:

Show and tell 36 video / slides 24.05.2020

Weeknotes 2 W/C 15.06.2020

Show and tell 35 video / slides 10.05.2020

Weeknotes 1 W/C 01.06.2020

Show and tell 34 video / slides 27.05.2020

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