Manage Arrears weeknotes: w.c. 23/2/2020

*Phase 3*

Phase 3 of Manage Arrears has come to an end 🙁

It has been a brilliant phase and we are proud to have Rents caseworkers onboard. The project has been left in great shape for the next team. The backlog has been neatly groomed and the business case is currently on the Digital marketplace


  • Before the project closed, Richard from Made Tech and I met with our Product Owner and his team to close the project down. It highlighted the project’s challenges and achievements. It was a very good session and our Product Owner indicated that this phase was definitely a success. 
  • SMS Automation has now been running for four weeks now. Approx. 100 SMS have been sent, reminding tenants with low arrears to make a payment.
  • During the last week of  our project, we implemented the redesigned case details page, another quick win with a big impact. The redesign was inspired by the Single View and tested with users. It meets accessibility standards making case details easy to review. 
  • We switched on letter automation on 10/2/2020, for patches W2 and W3. 146 letters were successfully triggered and sent to Gov Notify since then automation has been running smoothly and over 300 letters have been sent with zero failures.


Switching on the automation of letters was delayed as the data warehouse didn’t work as expected when Manage Arrears was due to be switched on. Many thanks to +James Vowles and his team for getting it up and running within the week. As the system is highly reliant on the data warehouse, in the next phase it might be a good idea for the data warehouse to automatically notify Manage Arrears if it fails so automated communications can be temporarily held.   

Special Acknowledgements

Many thanks to; 

+Nick Prince, +Elaine Greeve, +Cate McLaurin, +Miles Alfold and +Alex Demetriou who have all added so much value to the project.

OneCase – Implementing a Council Wide Casework Management System: 28th February 2020 Weeknote

Welcome back to the weeknotes for OneCase, Hackney Council’s new casework management system.

For those of you new to the project, the last weeknote we published was on the 7th February. As a bit of a recap, though, OneCase will be the software we use to manage all casework, freedom of information (FOI) and subject access requests (SARs) received to Hackney Council. This means every service in the Council needs to know how to and be able to use it. A big task!

We’ve had a name change, too! After a successful naming competition, the system will be called OneCase from now on.

Since you last heard from us, we have been performing our user acceptance testing (UAT) on the software. Colleagues from the Mayor & Cabinet office, parking, housing, housing needs, business analysis and complaints, children’s services, adult services, information management and building maintenance have all come together (physically as well as in spirit) to ensure that the system delivers what they need to do their job in an efficient and effective way. Thank you to colleagues in ICT who have afforded us some of their space so that we can sit as a team; It’s been an enormous help to have everyone co-located for the testing. I’m also delighted that some of the IT crowd were as excited about UAT as the testers! It made us all feel a little less stressed so, thank you.

All the preparation and planning we have done seems to have paid off. We’ve found 126 issues that we either need help with or that need system tweaks making in just 2 rounds of UAT. That is no minor achievement and the test team should be (and are!) very proud of themselves. We have 1 week of UAT left where our main focus will be verifying all the fixes, working out how to handle what can’t be fixed and double checking the more complex flows to make sure we didn’t miss anything.

We do have a couple of items which are of more concern that others and could derail us if we don’t keep a close eye. These are around saving changes to documents using Google Docs, saving changes to draft emails and uploading Google Docs. We’re hopeful that between us, Hackney and Civica can pool their knowledge to chase down the gremlins and get it fixed.

We’re working with integration experts too anticipation of environmental UAT when we can test single sign on (SSO), emails, data migration and our FOI submission form (provided by MySociety). Environmental UAT is due to start in the first week of March and run for 2 weeks

In the background, we have been planning for the roll out of the system across the Council. The approach we have decided to go for similar to that of the G-Suite roll out in Hackney. They used show & tells, user guides, floor walkers and team based experts to ensure staff had the support they needed to move over to working with Google tools.

We won’t have any formal, classroom style, training. We plan to have 16 ‘experts’ dotted throughout the Council to help within their own teams. We’ll also run show & tells on particular aspects of the system which we can record and put online afterwards for reference, produce user guides, hold ‘Ask us anything’ type sessions for any specific issues via hangouts and have floor walkers across the Council’s sites after launch who will be on hand to help in the first few weeks of go live.

As we need to cover the whole Council, we need to get this right so we’re working hard to make sure we have the right people doing the right things.

That’s all for this update. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any feedback!

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.