Manage a Tenancy Hub replatforming : Week notes 7/8/20

The team is continuing to make steady progress through our backlog. It’s a real gift to be working with a high-performing group of people slotted together so quickly.

We’ve sorted out the agreement between HackIT and MadeTech that the team will continue to work together until the end of September which has taken a lot of pressure off the project.

Getting off OutSystems also relies on the completion of the Manage a Tenancy process replatforming work and the second part of the My Rent Account replatforming work so we’ll need to keep an eye on what’s happening there.

Lots more conversations are taking place about other teams in the council who would like access to Single View – including the new “tenancy overview” that we’re building as part of this project.

One of the main things we still need to bottom out is how integrated we want Manage a Tenancy (and other future HackIT services) to be with Single View so we’ll be doing another round of mock-up based user research on that next week and discussing the outputs with the Product Owner and Relationship Manager for that product.

We’ve got some team changes coming up with Stu likely moving off now that the technical architecture work is mostly complete in favour of another more hands-on experienced developer. This should help us deliver more quickly – which is great given our hard September deadline.

We’re looking forward to our show and tell next week and again we’ll publish the video here.

Repairs hub – extension for contractors, weeknote 06/08/20

Melting into my sofa as I write this.

There are lots of cool things happening in HackIT and Hackney council at the moment. The regular show & tells, and project weeknotes are an excellent way to find out what’s going on. Some things may be more relevant than others, they can be really insightful and also a great way to put faces to names.

The Manage a tenancy show and tell last week unearthed a few things that, we could potentially use for the Repairs hub. It’s still very early days in the discovery phase, but it’s great that we have already identified things that we may be able to reuse from other projects. This also supports one of our missions at HackIT: ‘simple, secure, reusable technology’.

The products identified are as follows:

Platform API’s

  • Vulnerability snapshot – Cautionary contact API
  • Contact details API

Manage a tenancy

  • Tenancy overview
  • Worktray

This sharing of knowledge, and working in a transparent way is exactly what working in an Agile environment is all about, and helps to make great things happen.

The following contribution is from Dawn Turner, user researcher at Unboxed:

“Speaking on behalf of the rest of the Unboxed team, it’s great to be back at Hackney and cracking on with this next phase of the Repairs Hub project, which will see it extended out to external contractors. We’ve made good progress with the Discovery phase. Thanks to the tremendous support from Barnes Cook, we’ve had a busy week, building some new relationships with external contractors and RCC agents, giving us the opportunity to really understand the current situation in regards to systems and processes.

What really stood out this week was the level of manual intervention required to ensure the flow of information and data – particularly from Universal Housing to the contractors’ internal systems. Also, how integral the Notes function in UH is to both council and contractor to maintain visibility of the progress of repairs.

We will continue to build a picture of the current set up next week as we speak to other stakeholders, including internal contract managers and surveyors.”

Platform APIs weeknotes, 5 August 2020

OK so it wasn’t me; this past week has also felt slow, and that has been highlighted by the team in our retro yesterday. We’ve had quite a few of the team off over the last week; not a bad thing in itself, as people need a break. But coupled with underestimating the size of some of the tasks, it meant that we didn’t do as much as we had planned for.

That said, we have achieved Something Big. Ben has completed the LIST endpoint for the Resident Information Platform API – the beast we’ve been working towards these last few months. And what a beast it was; it took him nearly three weeks, though a lot of that was revisions following reviews from team members. Given that this knits together the other APIs we’ve built, we’ve agreed that future top-level API build tasks need to be broken down a lot more!

The Giant Behemoth - Wikipedia
Not quite our API, but it’s almost as big

So what does this behemoth do? In short, it sends queries to the other lower-level APIs and collates their responses, with a tag showing which system returned which response. The tag can be made clickable in a web front-end, so the user is able to easily navigate to that record in the original API that returned it. There are still a couple of things to be done so that it’s usable and we expect these to be completed in the new sprint. 

The LIST and VIEW endpoints for the Contact Details API have also been completed. This will enable us to pull out records from our Contact Centre database; as I mentioned last week, these are sometimes different to what’s in the main Housing database. Humairaa led on this work, and has commented on how much more confident she is now in this field. Given how keen we were to make sure this project was a learning experience, I’m really pleased to hear that. 

Work on the Authoriser app has moved on. There is now an API that generates authorisation tokens for services, and these can be granular to the point that access to particular fields can be specified. The tokens are stored in a database and can be revoked instantly, if required. This is something that we’ve wanted to do for a while, so it’s good to see it finally happening, and it’ll be part of the refreshed API Hub. 

Speaking of which, we reviewed our Roadmap this week and we plan to start the API Hub work this month. The Roadmap does still need a little work for the “Later” column but we have a clear direction for the immediate future. We’re further ahead than we originally thought we would be at this point, and that’s a testament to the team and their hard work. Maybe the last couple of weeks have just been a blip. Maybe we’re just being hard on ourselves. 

Watch our most recent Show & Tell on YouTube.

Manage Arrears Weeknotes – W/C 27.07.2020

An update on Phase 4 of Manage Arrears.

Purpose of these weeknotes

These weeknotes should bring people up to date on the developments on Manage Arrears. As we are entering the final few weeks of Phase 4 of Manage Arrears these weeknotes will also set out what we are aiming to complete by the end of the phase. There is also a complete set of links to our weeknotes and show and tells so far at the bottom so that it is easy to review what has happened so far. 

What are we working on now?

This week we have been working to get into the weeds of formal agreements. This has meant getting a better understanding of how court cases and formal agreements interact, building new API endpoints and creating new designs so that formal agreement data can be properly inputted. 

We are also close to completing work on the first iteration of the Service Charge Worktray. We are finishing off work on the API and have tested the designs with the Leasehold team. This brought up some questions around displaying information on disputes and service charge agreements, which we are looking at, although they might not be included in the first iteration.  

In this phase we have re-written the engine that calculates the next recommended action for a case. By doing this we will make it much easier in the future to bug fix and add new rules for different tenure types. This week we have been comparing the results from the original rules engine to our refactored one and working out why there are discrepancies. 

By doing this we are not only making it more maintainable and easier to build on but also fixing a number of bugs where the old rules engine was getting the next recommended action wrong. We are looking to complete this work by the end of the sprint and it will be a key enabler of development of the product in the future. 

We have also been doing some business analysis, which will be really important for the work we need to do in the future. Part of this is mapping out the rules for the tenure types that we currently do not support on the system. Part of this has been mapping out what processes that the Rents team need are currently in our legacy system Universal Housing. This is really important for planning out how we will move the Rents team off Universal Housing as we look to decommission it. 

Sorting out our Google Drive

One of the other things that we’ve been doing is the type of thing that rarely gets a shoutout but is nonetheless an important task: managing our Shared Drive. The first phase of Manage Arrears kicked off two years ago. Since then we have been accumulating documents, designs, research and other useful pieces of information. 

Last week myself and Elaine our Business Analyst sat down to try and make sure that this was fit for purpose for the team. As a number of different teams, delivery managers and product owners have passed through there were different approaches but we have made a start on the unglamorous job of restructuring our shared drive to be more structured around the functionality that we’ve delivered and less structured around phases. 

Our aim is to get it into such a state that any new team can quickly get up to speed on what has happened so far on the project and know where to store and find important, relevant documents.  

What next?

Prior to completing this phase of the project we are looking to do the following:

  • Turn on agreements functionality
  • Get the Service Charge Worktray live 
  • Add new letter templates for court breach and warning

We are also scoping what a potential extension of Phase 4 and a potential Phase 5 of Manage Arrears might look like.

We are approaching this in a slightly different way this time. We are splitting the meeting in two and deciding on priorities and scoping and breaking them down separately. 

I will provide an update on how this goes and the situation regarding the extension in my next weeknotes.

Previous Show and Tells and weeknotes:

Show and tell 38 video / slides 22.07.2020

No weeknotes (DM on Annual Leave)

Show and tell 37 video / slides 08.07.2020

Weeknotes 3 W/C 29.06.2020

Show and tell 36 video / slides 24.06.2020

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

Repairs hub – extension for contractors, weeknote 31/07/20

This week marks the start of the Repairs hub project – extension for contractors. The Repairs hub. initially launched in 2018, is a service that our repairs contact centre (RCC) agents use to log and manage repairs with our internal repairs team (DLO). Booking & managing repairs with external contractors however, is performed differently via Universal Housing, emails & phone calls.

Extending the existing service to allow agents to book and manage contractor repairs, we can better support our residents by:

  • Staff being able to view all the relevant facts and progress in relation to a repair carried out by a contractor.
  • Having a single view of the truth so that anyone who accesses this information has the same facts.
  • Providing managers with insight into the progress of repairs and contractor performance

We’re working in collaboration with the digital agency Unboxed, who developed the initial phases of the Repairs hub. I’ve heard nothing but good things about Unboxed, both in terms of technical excellence and their relationships with stakeholders which was abundantly clear from our first alignments session.

The rest of the team consists of our Hackney developer Alex Demetriou who has just finished working on the platform API project, with myself as DM, Lindsey Matthews as product owner, supported by Barnes Cook.

Meeting the team this week was really interesting. There were lots of voices in the room, we established there are needs to extend the service for contractors and also to improve what we already have. Here are some of the key needs identified:

  • Detailed tenancy info within Repairs hub
  • Scheduling appointments between residents and contractors
  • Full list of SOR codes and the ability to manage them
  • Communication within the hub – putting a stop to external emails
  • Remove dependencies with UH

As part of this project, we will also be supporting the wider programme of work to decommission Universal Housing. There are 247 active date tables within UH which gives some idea of the scale of it. Our role will involve a large amount of discovery into UH. We need to find out what information is needed, what isn’t, and what can be merged.

What’s next

  • Discovery
  • User research
  • Upgrades