Submit My Planning Application weeknotes – Week commencing 01/07/2019

Hello all,

Welcome to Submit my Planning Application weeknotes. 

For more general updates, continue to check our project site; showing all the great stuff we’re doing and key information about the project. Alongside the project site, also be sure to check out our blog post. 


A joint thank you to Rashmi and Emma H. Rashmi for constantly giving time towards helping us understand what we need to know, as their work will affect our project. And Emma for ensuring that these conversations with Rashmi are still happening and that the learning from it is shared with the rest of the team.

What we did this week:

  • Finalised data structure for materials 
  • Finished work that allows us to get application data out of the service
  • Created a secure way to authenticate users so that user data won’t be compromised during login
  • Shared integration document with Tascomi
  • Completed linking an application to a single account so that you will only ever see your own applications
  • Created draft copy for different emails that’ll be automatically sent to Users when interacting with the service, known as transactional emails 
  • Continued with testing 
  • Tested whether the data submitted from the front end, comes up in the back end so that the data can be used at a later stage 
  • Continue working on the submit form because we’ve identified and are fixing bugs 

We have made progress on storing user details in their accounts

What’s next:

  • Making a decision on a payment provider, either Civica ePay or GovUK Pay
  • The URL for our service has been chosen and now we will work with the Hackney Infrastructure team to implement it 
  • We’re working on the reporting metrics and how we will gather those

What are we keeping an eye on?

  • Integrating with Tascomi 
  • Address API 


  • None this week

Thanks for reading!

Planning Applications Team

(AKA Emma H, Andy B, Andy E, Ana, Matthew T, Nic).

Talent Acquisition Weeknotes: w/c 1.7.19

The Talent Acquisition Discovery is a new project which commenced this week. It is a small internal project, which will help us think about how we can successfully recruit high quality staff.

Why are we doing it?

We want to build in-house capability so we have more operational flexibility and reduce cost. We face many challenges when recruiting, these include;

  • Matching supply and demand
  • Competing with other local authorities and private sector companies for high-quality candidates
  • Practitioners preconceptions of working for local government

What has been done so far…

  • Started by meeting with a few managers to understand how they recruit in our department
  • Gathered statistics from HR on recent ICT adverts.
  • Mapped the recruitment process for Contractors and Permanent/ Fixed term contract staff.

Findings so far …

  • Generally, ICT recruit in response to an increase in demand, someone leaving, or because a position is hard to fill.
  • Due to the nature of our projects recruitment is often reactive opposed to planned.
  • It maybe useful to consider a hiring plan to manage the ongoing demand more effectively.
  • It maybe useful to have a Programme Lead with oversight on all projects. E.g. Someone who can challenge the need for a resource, forward think and support the allocation and demand for new and existing resources.

What’s next?

  • Exploring the option of a HackIT hiring plan
  • Talking through options with Senior Management

Hackney Digital Forms w/c 1st July 2019

It’s been a pretty quiet week for Digital Forms this week as most of the team have been busy on other projects. We’re definitely busy preparing for a busy time next week though.

Next week is going to be full-on. We have a workshop planned to build a consensus for what the team means by “digital forms” (we have quiet the range of views!) and whether we can work on a single product to both deliver an MVP and be able to achieve powerful long term strategic value.

Key to that will be debate around whether there are different kinds of developers. There’s been a proposal that folks that can write scripts to connect APIs between different systems are different to “full” developers who write complex business logic and develop APIs. It’s going to be an interesting discussion!

On top of both of those we’re also confirming the service design that’s been done for the potential prototypes, discussing what APIs need to be in place for those to work and getting into the examination of the market by defining our scoring criteria and starting to sort through the many potential options that are out there.

We’ll also be doing our first show and tell to describe our approach to this work so we need to be in a good shape by then. We’ll post the video in next week’s weeknotes.

Plenty to be getting one with!

Manage a Tenancy: Weeknotes w/c 1st July 2019

It’s been all hands to the pump for Manage a Tenancy this week. This is the final week before our current supplier rolls off so everyone has been working really hard to ensure that all of our backlog items have been completed and that we’re good to go for releasing our new services to Hackney Housing Officers.

We’ve had some complex system integration issues but pooling our combined knowledge of lots of different technologies the team has really come together to work through these problems and solve them in record time.

We had another great show and tell on Wednesday. You can find the slides here. The session video is below.

Moving forward there are two pieces of project work that we will be picking up from next week.

The first is completing the selection of a vendor based on this Digital Marketplace tender for a partner to help us do a partial replatforming of some of Manage a Tenancy so it’s more in line with the rest of the HackIT technology stack.

The second is to organise a short “mini-discovery” to look re-evaluate our roadmap of future work. At the moment there’s been a little too much focus on “lift and shift” of existing processes so we’re going to spend a little time going back to service design basics and understanding what the fundamental relationships and user needs are for the various types of people involved in this area.

Expect to hear more about both of those pieces of work really soon!

Verification Hub: Weeknotes 03/07/19

Last week, with lots of pushing from Tom (plus some 5:30am testing) and a hefty amount of support from Phil, Rasit and Lindsay, Farthest Gate deployed the Verification Hub in the live Liberator environment. Tom’s testing proved it hadn’t caused any problems with the permit application process itself but for now VH remains switched off…essentially this means Farthest Gate are lined up to flip the switch to on, just as soon as we iron out some new problems…

The main thing we’re trying to solve (beyond the project team’s availability having hit leave season!) are some problems we’ve encountered with the VH API. We had previously been testing against ClearCore v4 but have since been upgrade to v5 which is setup with SSL certificates over HTTPS and requires authentication, which wasn’t the case before. It’s much more secure but means we now need to develop our API to call the ClearCore service using credentials.

Unfortunately .Net Core doesn’t currently provide the necessary libraries to easily connect to a SOAP web service over HTTPS using credentials.  Matt and Farthest Gate confirmed this as an issue and agreed with Matt’s two options of either generating our own SOAP requests or switching to the .Net Framework. Matt felt that there was too much scope for potential issues when generating our own SOAP requests which means he now needs to build a new API project in the .Net framework and move the code over. This will involve rebuilding but hopefully not too much rewriting.

At this point we’re hoping Matt will be able to focus on the changes over the next week by which time, Steve will be back with us and able to move housing benefits data into the VH data core to expand out what we’re verifying against. Charlene, our optimistic and very supportive product owner, continues to marshal us towards pressing the on button in the next 2 weeks so we can sit back and watch how it performs IRL.