Manage Arrears weeknotes: w.c. 6/1/2020

*Phase 3, Sprint 8*

Manage Arrears is an arrears case management system with the vision to create a simple service for residents and caseworkers that is easy to use and improves arrears management and collection.

The current phase will be ending soon. During this phase there has been a strong emphasis on our Rents caseworkers needs to encourage them to use the system. Our team has addressed these needs by: 

– Implementing patches

– Making the system more usable for caseworkers by adjusting the case prioritisation

– Separating Leasehold information from Rents

We have onboarded two teams from Rents and the findings to date have been that some of the cases are not falling into the correct classifications e.g. cases which do not need attention are being picked up for letter automation. As a result, we are focusing our resources on ensuring that the Letter 1, Letter 2 and NOSP classifications are correct so we can switch on automation by the end of the phase.  

This week’s highlights

  • Accessibility Testing

Many thanks to Gill for leading the Accessibility ‘hackathon’ on 7/1/2020 and providing us with a draft report in time for our Service Assessment. It was great to be a part of this session as it now means I can confidently repeat this and do more regular checks throughout future developments. The output of the report highlighted 14 issues, six of which were high, five were medium and three were low severities. I am due to review the report with the developers next week and put a plan in place to address it.  

  • Service Standard Assessment

Over the past few weeks, we have been preparing for our service assessment which took place on 9/10/2020. Many thanks to the great panel of assessors which objectively assessed Phase 3 against the 14 GDS service standards. The outcome was not as great as we would have liked, we fully ‘Met’ 7 standards, ‘Partially Met’ 5 standards and Failed 1 standard. We will be reviewing the recommendations and the output will be published shortly.  

  • Application Support

Meeting with our internal support team and putting a plan in place for handover at the end of the month.

  • Implementing a quick win

One of the rent’s team leaders asked if we could display Court and Eviction dates within the caseworker’s worktabs, to save officers from having to click into each case to find this. This feature was released on friday. This provides value to not only the onboarded caseworkers but also other officers.


  • Limited resources within the service area to update missing UH data
  • Managing the cycle of timing fixing snags and providing users with enough time to check cases for each classification before the project comes to an end

Next week 

The plan for next week includes; 

  • Continuing to snag Letter 1 and 2 classifications so we can switch on automation
  • User Feedback session on Tuesday 14/01/2019
  • Show and Tell Wednesday 15/01/2019 @3pm 4th Floor HSC

MOKRs weeknote 1

I’m writing a weeknote about how we’re developing our MOKRs (4-year Missions, 12 month Objectives and quarterly Key Results). We’re doing this to help evolve how HackIT works from start-up to scale-up. By writing a weeknote, we can share what we’re doing, what we’re learning and how we’re evolving the technique. 

Project Vision

We have bold missions for how residents benefit from public services fit for the internet-era and we manage our work in small chunks so that we’re able to course-correct and we do that in a spirit consistent with our values. 

Goal for the week

Develop a clear process for how we’re going to develop our objectives so that managers can lead. 

What we did

Write a long-form project brief. I thought it was important to record what we’re doing, why and what we do and don’t know, so that we had a point of reference. We will need to hold ourselves to account and be clear about the ambition so that when things happen that we don’t expect, we can ask whether the initiative is worth it. 

We explored the project brief as a management team and honed the success criteria, reading for sharing with managers.

I led a briefing for 11 of our line managers to explain how we were going to develop our objectives, what we expected of them and which bits we might find hard. It was also a good first test of our thinking. The plan largely survived first contact, but I did a small amount of tidying-up before re-sharing the presentation with them. 

We also created a Sheet for teams to start populating their objectives. We’ve structured this around the five missions rather than teams, to try and support collaboration – but it may be too hard. Some teams have already made a good start with their objectives, so we shouldn’t be far off a long-list. 

I then drafted a slide presentation for the strategy show & tell that Rob led to explain our thinking to the whole team. 

So now we’re pretty clear who needs to do what and by when. I even developed a (not particularly good) gantt chart. 

Next week

I’d like to design and test a formula as simple and easy to use as a user story to see if that helps us write good objectives. As David Durant reminded me, it’s important we’re clear about the user need, they need to be specific enough that teams know what it is we’re doing and the outcome needs to be clear enough we know why we’re doing it. 

There are one of two other things that I could also do (I’ve probably not got time for both). We’re running cross-team workshops to review the objectives and develop the key results – and I need to design these. We also need some sort of visual representation of the objectives so that colleagues in services can see what we’re doing and check that it aligns with their expectations. We’ve had enough efforts at developing and maintaining roadmaps, that we know it isn’t simple. 

There are a couple of related projects that will support our OKRs. We’re finishing a review of our manifesto which spells out the culture in the team, and this will help us ‘do’ OKRs in the right spirit. Secondly, we think we need a consistent way that we do people planning across our teams to make it easier to start projects, ensure the right people are involved and spot blockers. There’s a draft brief which we need to agree and then discuss with the potential project team.  

Hackney Spacebank: weeknote, w/c 06/01/2020

Batman and Superman working together.
Now that’s what I call teamwork

This sprint is potentially game changing. Here’s three reasons why:

Interim online payment solutions for libraries

Currently it’s only possible to pay for rooms by cash, cheque or BACS transfer. This is a significant pain point for bookers and library staff. We are providing an interim online payment system this sprint using e-store – an application from Civica. We are really excited about this. We don’t need to wait until we’ve implemented the online booking system to address this issue. We can deliver value early. We’ll need to change the payment system down the line, this adds a small amount of technical debt which we’re happy to accept.

A team fit and raring to go!

We welcomed Jasyon to our team this week. He will be building an accessible front end for room bookers. He joins Junior, our UX designer and Eleanor our content designer. Together, they make a dynamic trio! Sam and Winston continue to lead our user research – keeping users front and centre in our designs. Andrew and Liam – our design apprentices – will be supporting Jayson bringing wireframes to life. Emma – delivery apprentice – will be managing the day to day delivery of each sprint. The golden thread throughout this project has been to develop the skills and knowledge of our apprentices. We’re as passionate about this as the product we’re building. 

Next steps with community halls

We want to revamp the community halls pages on the website and create a google form online enquiries. This sprint, we’ll be working up some designs and sharing them with colleagues from housing. It’s an additional strand of work, but we want to test some ideas in the wild based on what we’ve learnt from libraries.

Implementing a Council Wide Casework Management System – 10th January 2020 Weeknote

Welcome to the new decade! The Y2K bug is making a comeback so I’m going to keep the theme of this weeknote distinctly 00’s.

Now that's what I call 00's album cover

We were stoked* to have Civica with us for 2 days. They ran workshops for colleagues across the council who will use iCasework to manage enquiries and complaints. Civica had the unenviable task of finding ways to meet all service needs which were all slightly different. I’d like to thank the teams (Adults, Childrens, Housing, Housing Needs, Corporate complaints, Mayors office and App support) for being engaged throughout both days before they bounced*.

The workshops got us 80% of the way there, and Civica now have a long list of tweaks they need to make, but we still have a couple of large puzzle pieces to work out:

  1. Approvals

Because of the way responses to complaints and enquiries can be drafted by multiple services before being sent to the overall ‘owner’ of the enquiry, we need to be able to manage and track approvals at both individual service and overall case level. This is something iCasework doesn’t typically support but that Hackney really needs. Civica are busy looking into a bit of bling* so that we can do this.

2. Google Calendar Integration

iCasework has a calendar feature that lets you see the due dates of tasks and cases plotted on a calendar. We need this to work with Google Calendar so that our staff can see what’s due for what case without having to use the calendar feature inside iCasework. This is especially important for users who may not use iCasework as part of their day to day work but on a less frequent basis. Civica are going to work on getting this implemented for us. They seem pretty chillax* about it.

Hackney have a lot of work to do too. We have decisions to make and documentation to prepare for almost every case type; They’re keeping us on our toes.

Next week is our final workshop focusing on Freedom of Information (FOI) and Subject Access Requests (SARs). Hopefully, once this is complete, we’ll be able to start thinking about and planning UAT.

That’s all for this week! Peace out*!

* Hope you enjoyed the 00’s phrases

Report a Problem Weeknotes : week ending: 2020-01-10

Weeknotes are a way for us to keep people informed about progress on the project.

The problem

  • It’s currently difficult for Hackney residents and visitors to the borough to report issues such as broken street lights, potholes, noise nuisance or fly tipping
  • To do so often requires knowledge of the inner workings of the council as the same kind of issue may be managed by different teams depending on where it occurs (e.g. whether it is on a tenant estate or not)
  • Our current citizen reporting systems don’t integrate well to our existing and new back-end casework systems for our different internal service areas
  • Very few of the reporting mechanisms offer any explanation of the process or next steps tracking – this generates repeat calls as the reporter doesn’t know if the item has been received, progressed, resolved, will generate no further action due to process 

Project goals

  • To enable Hackney residents and visitors to be able to use a single high quality digital service to report a variety of issues that the Council is responsible for solving
  • For our call centre staff to be able to use the system to record issues raised by citizens via phone calls
  • For these issues to be routed to the appropriate part of the Council for actioning without the citizen needing to know the internal structure of the organisation
  • For the citizen reporter to be able to track the status of the solution to the issues they raise
  • For the citizen reporter to be automatically notified by changes of status of the issue (such as it being resolved)
  • Through user research to be to demonstrate that citizens and staff are comfortable using the service
  • For the service to be integrated to our existing and new back-end digital services
  • Being able to report on our overall service metrics and specific information related to each integrated service area 

Good things

Everything is going to plan as we start to spin up the project.

We’ve completed the contract. This has now been signed off by both parties and we’re good to go!

We had an excellent initial kick-off session. On Wednesday this week we had a half-day session with folks from mySociety and Hackney getting together to discuss how the project will run. This went so well we finished early! We agreed on the first integration (for our Highways team using their new back-end SaaS service Alloy) and discussed how we’ll move forward with the service design for the next piece based around noise disturbance. 

We’ve been thinking about more service design. We have some thoughts about how we might structure the service slightly differently to the standard implementation of FixMyStreet. We’re going to do some design and user research to see what our residents think of the idea.

We’re going to get going soon. We’re setting up regular catch-up meetings and thinking about how we’ll do show and and tells to show the work progressing.

Learned things

It’s important to focus on what’s needed in the short term. FixMyStreet can potentially be used by a lot of teams at Hackey. We need to ensure we focus rather than spend a lot of time discussing what could be done at some point in the future.


It can be tricky getting time from people outside of HackIT. Understandably, Hackney staff outside of HackIT are all very busy with the other demands from their roles. For the ones that will be involved in this project on behalf of their service areas we need to discuss how much time this will need from them and how they will fix into how we work.


We had a smaller team this week than we normally do. Thanks to everyone who worked on the project this week – David D., David E., Louise W., Louise H, Matthew, Struan, Susan, Sandrine, Rasit and Wayne.

What’s next

In the next week we will do the following.

  • Organise the PO for FixMyStreet
  • Sorting our regular catch-up
  • Setting up a shared backlog of actions in Basecamp
  • Beginning to put technical folks in touch with each other to discuss integration points

The following people will be working on the project: David D., David E., Louise W., Louise H,  Matthew, Wayne, Rasit, Struan and representatives from Hackney’s Highways team.