Finding support services near you: weeknote 27/02/20

Today’s weeknotes are brought to you by Product Owner Meg Dibb-Fuller.

We’re back with a (nearly) full team, and what a week it has been! We have finalised our product roadmap, defined our sustainability plan and tested the minimum viable website and database with our end-users. And breathe! Let’s break that down a bit…

What is a product roadmap?

A product roadmap helps communicate the direction and progress of a digital product throughout its lifecycle to internal teams and external stakeholders. It is an evolving document that shows high-level initiatives and the plan for executing the work that aligns with the product vision. Please do get in touch if you would like to know more details.

Digital sustainability: how we’re futureproofing this product

We acknowledge there will be challenges around statutory and VCSOs’ use/ maintenance of a single directory but believe the model we are developing (empowering and incentivising organisations to update their own information) will bring a greater system benefit than lots of organisations creating and sustaining their own. This is just one reason why this product is seen as a key enabler for change. 

The three elements of the project (a website, a database and a digital upskilling guide) are all being designed for minimal overhead requirements post-launch.

User testing

To ensure we’re developing something that is fit for purpose, we are constantly going out and asking our end users to interact with and test the product.

This week we have tested how to log into the database and update your data; and how to search for organisations on the front-end. We worked with 10 VCSOs, nurses, midwives, GPs and GP practice staff, residents, carers and physiotherapists. We are using their feedback to design what the next website and database iteration will look like. This is staying true to our values: test, gather feedback, accept changes, learn and adapt accordingly.

What’s in the Pipeline?

Week notes week ending  25/02/2020

Being a new father comes with its fair share of challenges. My son is always providing me with a new way of looking at things, as I am sure I am doing for him. One of the challenges I am facing is teaching him the importance of sharing. He almost innately likes to keep all the good stuff to himself, and why not!

I guess my challenge here is teaching him about some of the immediate benefits sharing can provide, such as making new friends which will build valuable relationships, playing or working in collaboration. All of the values Pipeline is built on. Afterall sharing is caring, isn’t it?

Background & Recap

‘Pipeline’ is a government platform, which can be used by anyone working in ICT or digital from central to local government. It has been created to encourage the sharing of ideas and recommendations for the best ways of working for all things digital from a public servant perspective. This project’s main goal is to evolve Pipeline into a valuable portfolio-reporting tool, which will serve these dual aims. The main focus of this Sprint is to complete the re-skimming of the front-end interface with a goal which is to make it more user-friendly through the re-design of if the interface and also some of the features.


Since the start of the year, we have been silently picking away at the remaining backlog requirements for the closing sprint of this project. In particular, we have taken stock of some of the more recent feedback team members have given on some of the less friendly features. From a UX perspective pipeline is falling short currently in ease of use and needs some urgent TLC. The general feedback is that it is clunky with really slow load time and in some pages, a complete lack of functionality.  

During the period from the start of the year, we have really taken a moment to listen to the feedback our delivery team here at Hackney has provided.  The new proposed backlog changes start from a user-centric perspective. The goal is to address as much as possible our user needs and requirements.


We have quite a limited budget and a small window of time to roll these closing changes out. We understand that we may not be able to commit to all of the desired changes with these constraints underpinning our progress, but we have really tried to work smarter and filtered our backlog to the features which we feel will provide the best UX MVP.

Next Steps

  • Kick off the closing Sprint
  • Successfully deploy changes into a go-live environment

Benefits & Housing Needs Service Redesign Project – Sprint Notes 3: Sharing the love

As the romance of valentines day fades we would like to share the love by updating you on the great things that are happening with the Benefits & Housing Needs Service Redesign project. 

Understanding Vulnerability + Shared Plan:

The basic idea – Spot red flags > Understand context > Build a shared plan

We know that our staff are aware of a lot of events in customers’ lives. So the focus has been on how we utilise these triggers to understand a customer’s vulnerability.    

We’ve been testing a tool with 4 Officers from Benefits, to help us understand what ‘trigger events’ happen e.g. ESA ending, which contribute to a customer’s vulnerability. Then to identify the best ways the service can support them. 

The Tool

What did we learn?
  • Officers have a good sense if the resident they’re working with is vulnerable
  • There are cultural and practical barriers (e.g. targets!) that currently limit the amount of additional support they can offer
  • The paper prototype is a useful prompt and way in to working in this way
  • How can we use tools like this and give you the time, space and permission to give the best possible support to residents?

Next we are starting to think about how the tool develops into a working prototype that supports staff and fits with current processes. As well as, how do we start creating a shared plan that helps a customer with their vulnerability by utilising their strengths?

Single View:

This seems a timely point to highlight the importance of people within the service being able to easily spot the excellent work that is going on around understanding vulnerability. Naturally the best place for this is the Single View – so watch this space.

The latest teams to join the Single View Crew are Housing Register and Settled Homes. To make the day to day user experience more effective we have been squashing all the bugs. As well as making sure our feedback loop is to a high standard, so that we know what to do first. 

Enter stage left ……….. A new starring role in the Single View…….Comino documents. Meaning more documents are easily accessible in one place. Moving forward, we will be identifying where we can have the most value and putting measures against this. 

Make sure you follow Soraya’s weeknotes for a more in-depth look at the Single View!

Information + Evidence:

Another super busy two weeks, especially with Chris Caden pushing the energy through and getting stuff done! Last week we showed you a very insightful graph that showed changing expectations around wait times for social housing. We’ve updated this with some more data and we can clearly see the work having some solid results.

On top of this, Chris has been running a number of website content drop-in sessions; specifically around:

  • ‘Join the Housing Register’ page (50,000 views a year)
  • ‘Housing Options and Advice’ page (33,000 views a year)

We wanted to learn how we can improve these pages to:

  • Better set housing expectations 
  • Improve the way we promote alternatives in the private rented sector 

Some key bits of feedback included; ‘It’s too long, we don’t want to be reading War and Peace.’, ‘This page doesn’t include any information on other housing options.’ and ‘We need to give the facts about the waiting times.’ 

In response, the team has already started to prioritise a design for a whole new website.  Looking at; 

  • Title change 
  • Set expectations early, explaining the poor likelihood of receiving a property from the register 
  • Includes wait times by bed size and band
  • Condense the content into a shorter space  
  • Promote alternative housing solutions

Another exciting piece of news is that we are starting to embed the waiting times tool with the Mayor’s Office. Remember to email Chris Caden ( if you want to find out more!

Want to know more?

Well keep following our notes and posts, and feel free to get in touch with me ( or Scott ( if you’d like to chat through any of the work.

Complex Customer Journeys weeknotes w/c 17.02.20

Hypothesis generation

  • So far on the Complex Customer Journeys project we have been focused on gathering research and insight. This week we shifted into generating hypotheses that we can test in the future.
  • To do this we ran two sessions. The first session was designed to generate as many hypotheses as possible and to begin to identify priorities. To do this we used a framework from DXW:, namely: Because [research findings] we believe that [improvements ideas] will achieve [desired outcome] measured by [performance indicator].
  • The team generated as many hypotheses as possible from their experiences over the course of the project, we had notes from user research sessions and workshops to hand, to feed into this creation. When creating hypotheses we put question marks in as placeholders if we couldn’t think of a specific element.
  • Once we had generated these hypotheses we grouped them. We were left with 29 distinct hypotheses. At the end of this first session we quickly went through and put ⭐s on anything we didn’t understand and thought needed further discussion and ❤️s on anything we particularly liked. 
  • In the second session we each took the hypotheses with ❤️s (23! of them) and sorted them into 3 quadrants, one that mapped cost against impact, one that mapped strategicness and easiness to test and one that mapped our own confidence in the research findings and the performance indicators we had chosen for the hypothesis. 
  • From this we were able to identify a number of hypotheses that we wanted to test as a matter of priority.  
  • Zoe has been circulating and sense checking these hypotheses with the relevant services to get their input. 
  • The eventual outcomes of this work will be to create the council’s new customer services strategy with a learning by doing approach: we’ll test the hypotheses to understand how we can improve customer service delivery in these journeys; then replicate out to other service teams; and collate all findings to develop an overall vision and strategy for customer services. 
  • We’re excited about this work not only because it should lead to better, more empathetic services for our residents, but also because we’re demonstrating a new approach to colleagues around the council for how to create corporate strategies. Always happy to chat if anyone else is considering similar projects 

What else have we been up to this week?

  • Visiting Citizens Advice Bureau: Rahma and I spent Wednesday morning shadowing advisors at the Hackney Citizens Advice Bureau. This was a really great opportunity for us to get a direct understanding of users’ experiences on one of our complex customer journeys. It was really valuable to validate some of our assumptions about the confusion that the internal complexity of our system’s causes as well as giving us new insights into people’s experiences when struggling with debt. 
  • Prepping for the customer services steering group: we are working towards presenting at the customer services steering group on the 25.02.20. This will give us a steer as to which and how many of our hypotheses to prioritise as well as getting a sense as to what the process of drawing up the new customer services strategy might look like. 

Story up to the Customer Services Steering group on 25.02.20

Show and tell #1:


Show and tell #2:

Security by design

Weeknotes Week ending 25/02/2020


The journey for a developer on the road to excellent data security begins with an excellent approach. DXW Cyber now ‘Tradecraft’, is the security specialist helping our developer team tease out a bespoke approach for ensuring just that. Our long-term vision is to eventually roll out an approach so unique to our teams it will be easily adopted throughout our departments.

Security by design


Following on from our workshop sessions in which our colleagues from ‘Universal Housing’ and the ‘Developer team’ have volunteered candidates to pick up and lead on specific ‘Security by Design’ project tasks in order to action their first Sprint.

Our Sprint objectives are to have all the tasks allocated, (which for the most part lend themselves to leads having to research the current ways of working so as to define opportunities for improvement) by so doing also seeing some recommendations where we might introduce tooling as a solution.

These findings and recommendations have now been presented to a team of security experts in Tradecraft. We have broken out the time by having one to one sessions with each task owner to consult and further steer the direction research and findings could potentially progress in.


I believe this has very much been a discovery piece for the teams involved. To date, as we grow in our understanding, all parties involved are agreed that the window of time to complete this project (end of March) may indeed be quite ambitious. We envision a more realistic deadline would be the middle of the second quarter. 

I was quite encouraged to see that the Tradecraft team agree with this outcome. For Tradecraft, it appears to be more important to ensure we are producing quality work which indeed makes a positive change and is of true value. Therefore they agree an extension may be necessary.

Next Steps

–   Present the research finding and recommendations from the Tradecraft sessions to the rest of the relevant teams

–   Run tests on the recommended tools

–   Based on the test results begin thinking about a potential roadmap for             implementation