DevOps Practices – w.c. 19.08.19

The last few weeks have seen us really kick off the DevOps practices alpha in earnest. The three areas where we have focused on are:
– engaging with teams regarding their existing practices,
– thinking about measures of success, and
– planning for our next steps.

Since we kicked off the alpha last week we have been focusing on this hypothesis:
“Adopting a consistent approach to containerisation will make it easier and more efficient to develop, test and (re)deploy services”.

Existing practices

Last week we ran a workshop with people from the API-Factory, infrastructure, security, and applications teams, focused on the current practices of the API-Factory team. Although sadly I had to miss it, this was a great chance for teams that do not normally discuss the details of their work together to start having these kinds of conversations.

Although these conversations aren’t a direct, measurable output of the DevOps practices work they are what creating a DevOps culture really is all about. Cate described it as one of the best meetings she’s been in since joining Hackney!

We also had an interesting chat with colleagues in Data & Insight team who are using containers but in a very different way to the API-Factory team. One of the things that we are mindful of is to test an approach that is flexible enough for different teams with different needs but still creates consistency and predictability where it can.

Measures of success

JJ, who is with us from Digi2al working on this DevOps practices alpha phase, has spent a lot of time in the last couple of weeks thinking about how we can measure the success of whatever we try. This will mean that rather than having a hunch that our new approach is better we can actually point to some evidence.

To start the process of identifying measures of success we looked at ‘Accelerate: The Science of Lean Software and Devops’ by Nicole Forsgren and Jez Humble. We took their four key measures as our starting point: Lead Time, Deployment Frequency, Mean Time to Restore (MTTR) and Change Fail Percentage.

We have started engaging with various teams across HackIT, as well as suppliers, to see if we can get baseline data for these before we start testing anything. One of the things that we have identified is that we are not currently collecting data on some of the measures above. This gives us an opportunity in our test to start collecting these useful insights, as well as recommendations to make regardless of the success of our test.

Next steps

This week we have a busy week on the DevOps front.

On Wednesday we are holding a workshop with teams from across HackIT to design the deployment path we will use to test our hypothesis. This will build on the existing deployment path that API-Factory is using but take into account that it might not be the best fit for everything.

On Thursday we have the GOV.UK PaaS team coming in to give HackIT a show and tell on their product and then do a deep dive after with people from across HackIT’s development and infrastructure teams.

Hackney Spacebank: Weeknote, w/c 19th August 2019

A highlight from this week has been our feedback session with the community halls team and stakeholders. In agile parlance this is a “show and tell”. We are experimenting with naming it differently to see if it encourages wider participation. 

Our key aims were to:

  • Playback what we’ve learnt from our user research so far
  • Gather feedback on the findings
  • Identify where we might have gaps in our emerging learning

We wanted to create an environment where attendees would feel comfortable and able to contribute. We jumped on a bus and headed to Stamford Hill where the community halls team are based. We left our agile paraphernalia* behind. Instead we used flip chart paper and some simple feedback forms** to generate discussion. Naturally, we provided snacks: sweet, salty and healthy to cover a range of preferences 🙂 

We knew we would be parroting some information back to the team they already knew. We wanted to test their reaction and sense check our understanding. This included:

  • Communication with bookers is largely over the phone, this is quicker than using email
  • Gaining access to halls often relies on a third party
  • The booking process can be challenging for bookers and administrators

The response*** was reassuring – we are on the right track. Crucially, we wanted to understand where the gaps in our research might be. The team helped us identify the following areas:

  • Free use/ priority policy for residents
  • Understand what happens in the 2 week notice period
  • Council payment process

In the next feedback session on 4th September, we’ll be presenting some hypotheses based on alleviating pain points for community hall bookers and the team. 

*Postit notes and sharpies

**From the excellent Seeds of Change facilitation handbook

*** There was good challenge too

Submit my Planning Application Week notes 23rd August

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. 


Thank you to everyone who came to our final show and tell! Special thanks to Chris MacNamara from Wigan who patiently waited out our technical issues.

What we did this week:

  • Delivered our final show and tell 🙁
  • A full QA run was completed; We’re confident we’ve caught as many bugs as possible
  • Continued fixing bugs we already knew about and investigating new ones
  • Updated the copy for all transactional emails and get it all working in Gov.UK Notify
  • Tried to deploy onto Hackney’s infrastructure but were not successful
  • Integrated against the new live version of the Addresses API
  • We met with Sarah and Tom from the Information Management team to discuss GDPR compliance; we’re not a long way from being compliant but there are a few tasks:
    • Update the existing Planning Privacy Notice to include info re Analytics
    • Ensure links are in the correct place linking to the Privacy Notice
    • Do we have a Data Processing Schedule to save data in Amazon RDS?
    • We need a Processor Agreement (DPA) to be signed by Woopra to be compliant with Article 28.

What’s next:

  • Waiting for the right person from Hackney to return from holiday to finish deploying to our infrastructure
  • A full copy review to correct the last few typos and bits of jargon
  • Planning our launch at PlanTech week (19th September 2019)
  • Mopping up the final bugs we’ve found during our QA run
  • Finishing up work to secure the login process prior to our full security test (scheduled for 11th September)
  • Update Planning Privacy Notice
  • Contact Woopra to request signed DPA
  • Contact other teams to see if we have a contract with AWS for them to act as a data processor for Hackney.

 What are we keeping an eye on?

  • Integrating with Tascomi 


  • None this week!

Thanks for reading!

Planning Applications Team

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

API Factory – Final Week notes 23rd August 2019

In this final edition of the API Factory week notes we have EXCELLENT news and also sad new.

Let’s start with the EXCELLENT:
The Addresses API is fully, completely and totally LIVE! We cannot say a big enough thank you to the data and insight team in collaborations with Marta, Anna, Steve and Tom too who helped with UAT. Getting the API live has been the definition of a team effort. Well done all! It makes us have this happy face

And now the sad:
This is the end of the API Factory project. It has been wrapped up as we’ve got as far as we practically can with the current team set up. It’s been a fantastic project which has pushed many boundaries, surfaced important questions and innovated at the bleeding edge of technology. It’s now time to take a step back from the Factory and have a broader look at what we’ve done, how that fits into the bigger department and the best way to keep moving forward.

The Google site for the project will remain in place so if you ever want to go down memory lane, it’ll be there.

This is goodbye. So long and thanks for all the fish!

Manage Arrears: Weeknotes w.c. 19/8/2019

This week we welcomed +Lia Tarar to our team, by inviting her along to our RAG (Red, Amber and Green) rating and priority scoring workshop. Lia is a Junior Developer, with Ruby skills and is a lovely addition to the team.

The outcome of the RAG rating and priority scoring workshop was interesting. The aim of the session was to show the product owner and the rents team how the different aspects of the scoring fitted with the RAG and the message flow. We found that our Product Owner would like Red cases to reflect top priorities P1s. Amber cases to reflect P2s. And the Green cases to remain as they are which is to reflect lower arrears cases which will generally be handled through automation. The outcome was interesting because this approach simplifies the existing rules for Red and Amber cases in the system.

This week, we also user-tested, the improved case details layout designs with the Income Collection team. Testers generally shared the same comments. Based on their feedback we have a clear idea of how features can be adjusted to increase the usability of the system. We plan to amalgamate the preferences into one design which will be shared with our UX/UI consultants and the developers joining in September.

Next week we will be:

  1. Collating the User testing, case details layout designs feedback.
  2. Updating the message flow based on the workshop feedback and preparing the automation stories in the backlog.
  3. Continuing to find solutions to the Hackney API/ Hackney action diary bug.