Hackney Works Digital Service Week notes W/e 29/05
It’s been an interesting few months as we now ease up on lockdown I can’t help but reflect over the period and have a strong sense of gratefulness. Like for so many of us, this period has allowed me to reflect and find newfound gratitude for some of the more important things in life such as good health, family, friends and my job.
As part of the panel reviewing the bids for contractors for the new Hackney Works website improvement project, I’ve been afforded the opportunity to be a part of the “whole” conversation from conception right through to delivery and all the sticking points in between; thereby removing the ambiguity which a DM typically experiences at the beginning of a project. This has allowed for a ‘ready to go’ confident mood, shared not only by myself as a DM but also the service team I will be working closely with as well. Yet another reason to be grateful.
Hackney Works is a free employment support service run by Hackney Council designed to supports people who live in Hackney residents to find employment. The proposal for this project is to further enrich the digital experience.
This proposition was put out to the digital market place for which the team received some really good applicants from some of the UK’s leading public service digital transformation agencies. After reviewing the bids from the digital marketplace, Future Gov was our successful agency.
The primary objective of this project is to add more value to our service not just by helping our residents find employment but also providing a service that changes the conversation to thinking longer-term; helping more people into new and better employment opportunities (including apprenticeships, training, etc.). The process for development is very much a user-centric. We are hopeful that this approach will result in a good outcome for residents.
There is also a need for the service to cater for those close to the labor market, with easy to use, self-service routes to support future opportunities, and those who want personalised support from an advisor. Expanding the service to include adult learning will maximize opportunities to reach and assist residents who want to improve skills and progress in their careers.
What we have achieved
Since the kick-off, the Hackney Works team have accomplished the following:
Induction for the Hackney Works team into the new Agile way of working
Defined the backlog for our project
The first draft of a proposed roadmap
Begun the work around the discovery of the user needs and requirements with our first Sprint goal being to establish the building blocks which we become our technical approach
What has been challenging
Our teams have expressed their excitement about our new project however because Agile is a new way of working for most of the teams involved they all have concerns around the challenges this may present.
Understanding all of the user needs and excepting that managing different teams’ expectations will also come with its inherent challenges
Finish the first draft of the project roadmap
Present our findings from the scheduled ‘Adult Learning’ workshop to the Adult Learning team
Align Future Gov dev team with HackIT dev team to begin to establish our technical approach
Begin the discovery steps for the overall project vision
It’s been an exciting week. After much hard work by Mission Labs, we’ve got the test version of the system.
Our Super Users were trained in how to use the system earlier in the week, and have trained the agents who’ll be using it during the trial. Because we’ve received the test version, it can be proper hands-on training and agents can familiarise themselves with it in good time before going live.
This week has seen some user acceptance testing. The core functionality is working fine, three users have tested it and found no bugs. However, one user has found some anomalies in the Admin side of things. Although this wouldn’t affect the customer/caller experience, it’s something that would stop me giving the green light for go-live. Fortunately our supplier has been really responsive and has fixed them overnight. This is a level of service I can definitely live with!
We’ve started to recruit residents to test the service to give us honest feedback. We’ll be asking around 20 or so residents to make a call to the new automated service and give us their thoughts. Could they understand what they were told? Was it easy to use? Importantly, how can we improve it or add to it? I’ve never directly run user research by myself before and I’m really grateful to Gillian and Richard in the Design Team for their support.
We’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel for sorting out everything for our MVP supported issue categories. We’re going to have nearly 90 categories across a number of council service areas – each with their own particular needs and tailored notifications. We’re not done yet but it’s now feeling like we have this under control and just need to get the final leg-work done. Feedback from the Contact Centre has been a vital part of this.
Speaking of council service areas. We reached out to all those teams this week and have had great responses. We’ve got meetings with all the team leads next week to make sure we’re all on the same page about the category mappings, the agreed ways of working changes, the timeline leading up to the MVP and to make sure their team members have access to the staging site so they can become comfortable using the system.
We’re going to be finding out new things – right up to the end of the project. This really shouldn’t be a surprised – we need to be flexible to understand if we can accommodate the new needs in the MVP or if we’ll need to plan for them to be done ASAP after. This week’s new thing was private roads and estates in the borough – which council services they use and which they have to provide themselves.
It’s still really hard to find time to do some things. We’ve been trying to find time to work on the council website parts of the project for a month but still haven’t managed to complete them.
Our widely distributed team continues to do great work on this. Thanks to Matthew, Louise H., Louise W., David, Dave, Rasit, William, Ade, Sandrine, Sam, Tim, Keith and many others.
Meeting with service area teams
Working with the Alloy team to make sure they can deliver their project on time
Looking into end-to-end testing for FMS
Updating the category list and notifications in the system
Continuing to test single-sign-on for staff
Looking forward to testing location-based-routing when it’s available
Doing the website work
Discussing how the service will continue to be improved after the MVP project is complete
Looking into comms to residents
Looking into decommissioning the existing related eForms and Love Clean Streets
To be completely candid the project has got to a point where we’ve produced some great work but now we’re struggling a little bit. We’re past the end of our deadline extensions DXW have left the project and that combined with HackIT’s only front-end developer leaving the organisation has meant that we’re now not progressing with the remaining work as quickly as we would like. We have two great junior developers remaining on the project who are working extremely hard to learn the complex new skills they need to continue to the work on the data-driven front-end to complete the two remaining Housing processes.
We’re looking forward to three things next week. Firstly, hammering out the final significant bug in the T&HC process so we can complete full end-to-end testing and show the entire user journey to our Housing Officer colleagues. Secondly, setting up all the technical infrastructure needed to complete the remaining two processes. Thirdly, planning out all the remaining work that needs to be done.
At the same time we’ll be completing the write up following our Service Standard review and submitting it to the Panel for feedback.
Finally, we’re going to open up the discussion again with our colleagues in Applications Support as to when they can take over continuing to drive work forward for Manage a Tenancy.
Complete end-to-end testing for T&HC with Housing Officers
Create all the tickets in the backlog for HC and ITV and begin work on them