Manage a Tenancy week notes 11/10/19

Week notes are a way for us to keep people informed about progress on the project. Given the technical nature of the re-platforming work we will use them to explain technical choices that we are making, including the benefit and impact of these choices. 

The focus this week has been on defining our ways of working, and learning about what’s required for Manage a Tenancy. As a result of the inception work we have built a draft roadmap to indicate the order in which we’re going to do things. 

Project goals

  • Enable housing officers to use Manage a Tenancy offline when there are mobile coverage blackspots
  • Enable Hackney to decommission Outsystems, saving £80,000 per year
  • Enable Hackney to support, develop and deploy future improvements to Manage a Tenancy more quickly, at lower cost

Good Things

This was the first time that the technical delivery team was able to come together. We now have a much better understanding of the work and risks involved in replatforming Manage a Tenancy. 

We agreed how to make our work more reusable for Hackney colleagues in the long term. Rather than building complicated bespoke pages for user journeys, we will approach a data-driven front-end. We intend to do this by building components that can be easily assembled into a new process by writing a config file. The benefit of this approach is that it should make it easier for the HackIT team to digitise new processes in future, rather than relying on third parties to do this. It may also be useful for other digital projects in Hackney.

HackIT and dxw worked together to create a DACI matrix, to agree what everyone is doing on the project. One of the key takeaways from this activity was that we want to avoid front-end vs. back-end silos. dxw and HackIT developers will work closely together. We will co-locate to help this as much as possible.  

We now have a high-level roadmap that we created together, which will help us prioritize work and talk about the risks and dependencies more clearly. 

Learned things

The members of the team from dxw learned a lot about the existing technical architecture and constraints for Manage a Tenancy. Some of the key takeaways:

  • The Hub and work tray currently use an API which talks to CRM Dynamics 365. Next week, we’ll explore whether we can work with this API and still achieve the project goals or whether we’ll need more help from Hackney developers to make changes to the API. The benefit of refactoring it, is that it will make future improvements easier to deliver. 
  • There is a degree of conditional logic in the processes which we need to replicate. Our current assumption is that by using configuration files written in TypeScript (rather than a simple JSON mapping) we should be able to minimise issues in handling this logic.
  • The re-platforming project could benefit from otherHackIT initiatives – this includes implementation of a new continuous integration  pipeline and Google SSO. Each of these adds some degree of risk to the project, which needs to be managed carefully, or we could decide to take advantage of these initiatives at a later point.
  • A shared component library for Hackney is currently being built, but will need some work converting to React (the framework we’re using to build the user interfaces) components before it can be used in this project. We intend to do that work as we need it, rather than doing it all up front.

Difficulties

We now have a clearer sense of the challenges involved for Manage a Tenancy. The project currently carries a high degree of risk which we need to manage carefully.

  • Frontend scope: there is a lot to deliver in just 5 sprints. We may need to extend the timeframes, or tackle My Rent Account in a second phase.
  • Backend scope: there are still discussions required in order to fully realise the scope of the backend work required, specifically around whether changes to the hub API are required. We are working together to understand how the scope of these changes will affect the speed that the team can deliver the frontend features; we may need to adjust priorities to ensure the frontend work is unblocked as soon as possible.
  • Managing expectations: once we’re clear what benefits can be delivered when, we’ll need to work with Lorraine so that she can set expectations for housing officers and senior stakeholders. For example, some user experience changes have been identified and implementing these will require additional user research and testing. Given the need to de-risk the project we think that it makes sense to descope these changes for the time being, and address them once the new system has been built. 
  • Dependencies on us: there are dependencies on us outside of the core scope (e.g. implementing Google SSO, managing defects, and corporate dashboards). We think that it is sensible to reduce any risk on the project and this likely means deprioritising things which are not on the critical path. 

Achievements

  • We’ve drafted a DACI and a roadmap for MaT, which will help us work together in delivering the project
  • We’ve agreed a rough technical approach for creating data-driven frontends with reusable components
  • Thank you Mirela and Shweta for taking the time to talk us all through the existing setup, and for answering all our questions!

What’s next

We will continue inception work next week. Some of the key areas we will be digging into include:

  • My Rent Account technical overview
  • Changes required to the existing Hub API (which may be a blocker for the frontend work)
  • Agreeing the priorities  for Manage a Tenancy
  • Further investigative work for how we might achieve some of the more technically challenging aspects of the project
  • Scheduling key meetings (planning, show & tells, retrospectives) 

Sprint 1 will begin on Wednesday 30th October.

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