Improving Library Technology: weeknotes w/c 02/12/19

What we did: 

We did our sprint planning session in Hackney Museum. I expected it to be a ‘Night at the Museum’ event where I’d be chased out the building by a dinosaur skeleton* covered in post-it notes and a Sharpie in its mouth. But, alas…

This sprint is again focused on things we need to know as the work we did last time, made us realised we needed to do more understanding. It’s not clear to us as a team what the priorities are and what we need to know in order for Sue the Product Owner to give us the direction we need. We need a lot of information about the different areas in order to know what needs to be done next. 

A major part of this project is looking at the hardware the public use throughout the library service. This is something we’ve not been able to look at yet due to the work on staff PCs and self-service kiosks we’re currently doing. We’ve little understanding of public need yet, and as it’s a mayoral priority we need to kick this off soon. 

Due to this, we’ve slightly changed the way we’re approaching the self-service lending kiosks and deliver the staff PCs so as soon as we know they meet our acceptance criteria we can get these moving; freeing us up to focus starting on the public hardware in the new year. 

We’ve started the ball rolling on what we need to do in order to introduce card payments to the self-service lending kiosks too. Currently, customers can only pay fines or for reservations using coins. So, for a myriad of reasons, we’d like to add card payments to these too. We need to know more about how this works and interacts with our financial systems so we order the right hardware and use the right processes. 

We had a session together to try and understand the vision of what this project is trying to achieve and how the activities we’ve done so far fit into that. More of that below.

We got a lot out of it, despite not getting to the end of it, but I think one thing became clear: there was a lot of ‘stuff’ and this work will really help us in the public-facing part of the project. 

I’ve also learned how to publish these on the HackIT blog too! Go me.

What we learned:

The session we did together to understand our vision, really helped us to realise that the reason why we just weren’t able to gain momentum or clarity was because we’re looking at three different problems wrapped together into one not-quite-fitting-together-goal. Therefore the approach we were taking just wasn’t working! Despite being very similar, they actually require different activities to tackle them, and our ‘one thing at a time’ approach means it’s difficult to balance the competing priorities and frustrations coming out as work was becoming choked in the lack of clarity of what the priorities are. So rather than trying to ram the square peg in the round hole, we needed to stop, look at how we could break up the big square peg into smaller round legs and get them through the hole ok. 

We’re not changing what we’re doing – we’re still in sprint and aiming for the same goal, but just managing the competing issues better. This’ll speed up the delivery of the staff PCs and solving the issues surrounding the kiosks, enabling us to fully concentrate on the public PCs in the new year. We’ve already done the staff research, which will be an important part, as the staff supporting the public to use the new hardware solutions is integral to its success. 

What we’re doing next:

The new approach means we’ll get the results of the staff PC testing and if it passes the acceptance criteria we can get ordering all new PCS for all the libraries. They’ll arrive over the next week or so, giving time to get them set up and coordinate delivery and installation to the 7 libraries in the new year. Once these are done, they move into service support and this part is complete! 

Some of the kiosks need operating system upgrading to Windows 10 so we’re finding out which ones need this before Windows 7 stops being supported. We want to standardise the software running on them too. ICT has never supported these kiosks before as libraries managed all the issues with the supplier themselves. We’re taking over this relationship and management so we’re ensuring we’ve got a standard service to start from.  Some of the others are near to ‘end of life’ and need replacing so we’re finding out when this is before making decisions on how many we replace overall in this project. It’ll take 6-8 weeks to get these delivered so this will take a bit longer to complete, but we don’t need to install or set up, so this frees us up massively. 

We’re working with Thea this week on understanding the results of the staff user research as this will really help us understand the support the staff may need to help the public with new hardware solutions. 

*Just in case you thought it would be a real dinosaur.

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