Revitalising the Hackney Intranet: Weeknotes w/c 9/9/2019

Welcome to the first official week notes for the Revitalising the Hackney Intranet project!

What is this project you ask? Well, the intranet is packing up and moving to WordPress. How? You may be wondering. Well, +Mohamed Mulla has copied the WordPress instance of the new Hackney public-facing website as the basis of the intranet, you’ll know what I’m talking about if you’ve kept up to date with +Susan McFarland-Lyons Re-Engineering Hackney Content week notes.

So, we are currently using the same seven blocks that +Carolina Gaspari designed for the public site to copy over the intranet content. This includes content, anchor links, accordions, featured message, iFrame, contact and image. The purpose of this is that it makes the process a lot easier than having to design and code new blocks, and saves a lot of time and money in the process. You can have a look at some completed pages for the public-facing website here

The intranet is currently home to over 4000 pages, but, amazingly +Jennifer Riley and +Hannah Saunders have managed to cut that down to 500, making this a slightly less enduring task than the internet content move… we hope.

Hannah is also taking on the challenge of tackling the ‘News’ section of the intranet where we have articles dating back to 2016. The news also currently only exists under two categories, ‘Latest News’ and ‘Get Involved’. To make it easier for staff to navigate their way through, Jennifer and Hannah have taken this opportunity to create more categories for different news posts. This is the list as we have it so far; Benefits, Diversity & Equality, Environmental Sustainability, Events & Activities, Facilities, Hackney News, Health & Wellbeing, ICT Blog, Offers & Discounts, Opportunities and Hackney Managers News.

Along the way, there has been discussion around how we can house news separately, within the context of being a more transparent organisation and potentially opening up more. It is likely we will need to call on design expertise further down the line. However, as we are on a tight schedule with the deadline of our GOSS account expiring at the end of September, moving the content over is our priority.

So a final update on where we are. Myself, Jennifer, Hannah, +Bruno Giachero, +Nadine Davis, +Liam Matthews Murray and +Hidayat Deen have been carrying out the content population for the last 7 days. We are over 300 pages down, and if we continue at this rate we will be well away before the GOSS deadline.

Let us hope it remains as smooth a ride as it currently is… * she says completely ignoring the pain of converting eDOCS. *

Manage Arrears: Weeknotes w.c. 9/9/2019

Phase 3, Sprint 0:

This week has been quite intense. It started with an Inception workshop attended by key stakeholders. It covered what Phase 3 is about, what the Manage Arrears product currently does, the roadmap and how we plan to work together in an agile way.

The developers spent a few days familiarizing themselves with the product and its code. They ‘Mobbed’, which is a software development approach, where the whole team works on the same thing, at the same time, in the same space, and at the same computer.

As a group, we also went over two of the six epics in the backlog, ‘Prioritisation’ and ‘Layout’. This provided the developers with a deeper insight into user needs. Our developers also met and shadowed some frontline users in both the Income Collection (Rents) and Leasehold areas to get some context around the theory explained to them and how users operate in the field.

Towards the end of the week, we had our show and tell, we looked at the Risks, Issues, Assumptions and Dependencies of the project and had our first planning session.

Some of the risks highlighted were:
*Decision on patches
*Additional API requirements
*Gov Notifies – limitation on the number of pages it can print

The aim is to remove all dependencies as soon as possible.

Next week, we will start our sprint by addressing some of the layout tasks, we also plan to run a workshop on roles and permissions and a meeting has been set up to discuss patches.

Hackney Digital Support Services: Weeknote, w/c 9.9.2019

Hello to the outside world for the first time… HackIT have allowed me (as one of the newbie Delivery Managers on the team), to share what I’ve been up to!

After a first week of learning all of the basics (last week), this week a good number of pieces began to fall in to place for me and allowed me to start generating some momentum for this momentous piece of work.

The project team have been brilliant in bringing me up to speed around who’s involved in what… what has got to where… and where I can find all of the key nuggets of info I need to start generating a nice rhythm in the programme of works and the projects involved inside of it.

Where we’re at…

We are at an important junction in the programme of works.

Two themes of work are almost ready to jump in to the agile cycle:

We have the Managing People Data. This has gone through the Discovery Phase and we are now gearing up to move in to prototyping. We’ve got a few questions we need to cross examine as a change in Delivery Manager and some other team changes inevitably leaves some short term knowledge gaps, no matter how well the project has been documented to date.

This week however, we made significant gains in understanding those questions, who can answer them and creating the forums for them to be answered, after which we will set up the Team for the Prototyping phase and kick off.

The other especially active piece of work we have is around Forms and Tools (We’ll think of a more exciting name at some point I’m sure).

Across the last few days, we’ve really pushed through a lot of questions and discovered lots of new ones and these questions are of the right nature that tell us that we’re ready to start the lead up to a full Discovery Stage.

This is really exciting, as we’ll be able to gain clarity we need to prototype and see how this can scale.


I really do have to give particular thanks this week to Henry and David, who have both been an absolute wealth of information and enormously supportive in helping me to pull the strands together!

I’m also really grateful to my amazing colleagues in the HackIT Delivery Team (Cate, Nic, Philippa, Emma, Susan, Jay, Felix & Soraya), who have really helped me to hit the ground running, far faster than I thought I could/would. It really is down to the team that I have been able to get started so swiftly.

Finally, I want to share my gratitude toward Paul and Kirstine, who have taken the time out of their days to help me to understand more about their roles and the Digital Support Services programme of works.

I’m very excited for the week ahead – there’s lots to do, but there’s a lot of people who are up for it!

DevOps Practices: A (primary) cloud on the horizon w/c 02.09.19

Self-portraits from our cloud workshop, used to indicate a preference of approach.
The picture is of the avatars people drew of themselves to place on their desired cloud approach. The quality of the discussions were far better than the self-portraits 😉

For these weeknotes I am going to write about the workshop we held last Wednesday afternoon to discuss ‘Our approach to cloud – next steps’. Although JJ has continued on work around our pipeline, which I will write about in more detail at a later date, this week the focus is cloud. We have started exploring the second hypothesis of this alpha, namely: 

“Picking a primary cloud supplier will save us time and money”.

This workshop involved the management from a range of teams and disciplines from across HackIT and was a chance for us to have a conversation about our views on our cloud approach in an open and constructive way. 

At the start of the workshop we set out to:

  • have a shared understanding of the terms/ideas we use around cloud
  • understand where we have differences of opinion, and where we have consensus
  • have explored our assumptions and hopes and fears
  • have an idea of the key strategic decisions we must make, and where we can safely test out ideas

Where are people at?

We wanted to start with a quick check to test what everyone’s current take was re: cloud. To do this we all did a self-doodle on a Post-It and used those to mark where we each were along a range of potential approaches, covering private cloud, single public cloud, hybrid cloud and multi-cloud. We quickly discarded private cloud (as no one picked that option) and focused on the other three. 

We asked people to go through why they placed their views in each bucket. One of the things that emerged through this discussion is that the things that we valued were pretty consistent between people, even where we’d placed our Post-Its in different places. The common considerations that were brought up were: users’ and services’ needs, flexibility, simplicity / ease, value for money, and innovation.  

Although people initially differed on which bucket they put their views into, through discussion it emerged that there was a consensus around a single approach that we felt best satisfied the considerations outlined above. This was for us to adopt a ‘Primary cloud but with exceptions’. This to some people was called multi-cloud and some people single public cloud but everyone broadly agreed this should be our approach.

This was really encouraging for us as it felt as though the hypothesis we are testing really tallies with our broad approach. This is something you always hope to be the case but given that the hypothesis had been suggested by an external agency it was really encouraging to see it chimed with our experiences. 

What problems do we need to solve?

The two key areas that came out of the main bulk of the discussion were portability and the exception process. 

We had a useful discussion of what we actually meant by portability. Portability is how easy it is to move our applications from one system to another. It can be more or less instant. At one end of the spectrum you could try and set your systems up to be instantly portable, so they could move from one cloud supplier to another at the click of a button. This would have the advantage of being easily able to take advantage of price competition between different suppliers. 

In our discussion we challenged whether our scale and sophistication would make the investment in doing this worthwhile. Our overall view was that we needed to have sufficient ease of moving between clouds to avoid expensive vendor lock-in, but that we didn’t feel that we need to be able to dynamically move from cloud to cloud to take advantage of micro-level price changes between providers. We spoke instead about being able to move something over a timeframe of 6 months to a year, which would be much more manageable from a technical point of view and not introduce huge upfront development and implementation costs.

The other area that we discussed was how we would agree for applications to use a cloud provider other than our primary cloud supplier. We identified a number of factors that we want to consider when determining that something should be exempt from our Primary Cloud Solution, these might include things like: Cost profile, meeting user needs, opportunity for innovation, and flexibility.

There will also potentially be some cases where we would choose to accept less portability in order to benefit from specific functionality (i.e. using proprietary cloud or PaaS features), which is something that will have to be considered when exceptions are agreed. This will have to be something that we further consider in line with the initial steer in this workshop. 

What do we still need to know?

The areas that were the highest priority for us to follow up on were:

  • Deciding the criteria we will use to determine the primary cloud supplier
  • Thinking about our ‘minimum viable’ portability criteria
  • Agreeing some exception criteria for when it’s ok for teams not to use the primary option
  • Determining what capacity we would need to procure from our primary cloud supplier and considering our route to market (our default is the Digital Marketplace / G Cloud, but we need to make sure that’s the best route to take)

We will look into these four areas in more detail over the coming weeks.

Submitting My Planning Application weeknotes – week commencing 02/09/2019

Welcome to the final Submit My Planning Application weeknotes.

This is the last weeknote for this project! We will be showcasing our service on The Third Thursday of PlanTech Week 2019. Our project site won’t be going anywhere so if you’re interested in what we’ve done and how we did it, do check it out.


We’d like to thank everyone who has been involved in this project with us. You’ve all greeted our efforts with open mindedness, constructive feedback and endless amount of advice and help. We could not be more grateful to anyone who’s ever asked a question, attended a show & tell or engaged with us in any way. If you’d like one last shot at getting involved, make sure you go along to The Third Thursday of PlanTech week 2019 where you will be able to see our service and ask any burning questions. We hope to see you there!

What we did this week:

  • Getting the final legal agreements sorted to use Woopra. We’ve very nearly there with just one query remaining on the data processing agreement before we get the green light
  • Successfully converted our GOV.UK Pay account into the live version so we’re all ready to take our first payment
  • Finalising the privacy agreement for the service which will be updated to correctly reflect what the service collects and processes and why
  • Mopping up the last few bugs on the front end
  • Made fantastic progress deploying the back end onto Hackney infrastructure. We’ve got one bug left to tackle
  • Set up our chosen address which our service will be accessed via

What’s next:

  • Clear the last few bugs on the front and back end
  • Get the new privacy policy updated to
  • Security test the service
  • Close the project
  • Showcase at PlanTech Week 2019

What are we keeping an eye on?

We’ll still be keeping a close eye on progress with Tascomi to make sure that our service is connected to theirs as soon as possible.

One last time, thanks for reading!

Planning Applications Team

(AKA Emma H, Andy B, Andy E, Ana, Mathew T, Nic and Hidayat).