Housing data in the cloud: Weeknote, w/c 03/02/2020

We finished our sprint on Wednesday. We have benefited significantly from working closely with colleagues from applications and infrastructure. Our main focus has been running some manual tests to see how our existing system reacted when presented with new data. We were particularly interested in: time stamps, key clusters, locking, conflicts and triggers. 

We also attempted our first data migration. We managed to move the database tables, but not the data objects. Unfortunately, the migration caused a problem in our existing system and our applications team had to reload some tables. A shout out to James and Nic who implemented the fix. We need to understand what went wrong so we can prevent it happening again.

It’s probably been our best sprint to date. Pace and energy was good, we were learning and iterating as we went along, and there was a strong understanding among the team about what we were trying to achieve. Our retrospective was characterised by honest reflection and a desire to keep on improving how we design sprints and work together. Every sprint is a test of the team’s resilience and creativity – the nature of this project is about untangling problems and encountering unknowns. 

I missed Chris, our product owner, this week. He is taking some well-earned holiday. He is unflappable and really good at explaining hard things in an accessible way. 

Our collaboration with AWS professional services starts next week! Our focus in the last couple of days has been on pulling together the information we need to support our work with AWS. This has included:

  • Tidying up our filing (definitely my weak point)
  • Sharing key documentation with AWS (a good test of relevance and understanding)
  • Summarising our needs for the sync process (based on our manual testing)
  • Putting the finishing touches on security and permission in our AWS cloud environment
  • Re-running the migration tool

We’ll be tackling our biggest unknown first – can we sync back data from the cloud into our existing system. We need to do this in a way that doesn’t disrupt availability and performance. I hope we will learn fast enough to provide an update next week!

It was great to meet colleagues from Camden Council on Thursday and to talk about this project in more detail. They are as keen to know the outcomes as we are. We know that other councils are experiencing similar challenges with legacy systems. It was a timely reminder that working in the open is vital to unlocking shared problems and accelerating change.

Printing @ Hackney weeknotes – wc 27/01/2020

The existing Xerox MFD contract is coming to an end and a project is underway to start planning the move to shiney new Canon devices from March 2020. But the project isn’t just about replacing like for like – the Council wants to print less as it’s better for the environment, more convenient for most people and keeps information safer.

We want to make sure teams are only printing where there isn’t a better way of doing a thing (e.g. accessing meeting documents using Chromebooks/iPads rather than on paper, communicating with our residents via SMS and email rather than by letter) and where things do need to be printed then we want to ensure that professional print services (the Council’s Print Unit) are used where it makes sense.

Project team:

Tony Gallagher – Product Owner
Sachin Rai – Supporting Delivery Manager
Steve Addison – Procurement/Contract Lead
Alexey Tyurin – Technical Architect
John Boateng – Service Support
Hidayat Deen – Lead Delivery Apprentice
Arfan Nawazish – Fleet Copier and Print Support Officer

What we’ve done this sprint:

  • In relation to testing, we’ve discovered more issues and things to consider. We’ve realised that there are issues with printing, especially from different devices such as Android.
  • Now that the POC testing has been completed, we’ve now shared the results as a team and have discussed the common issues.
  • We had a team testing session along with Jas and Paul from Hackney Learning Trust.
  • We’ve had a catch up with Libraries to know exactly what devices are public facing or staff ones. Yvonne has shared a list of devices that’s in the libraries, which has helped us identify what’s in scope for the project.
  • We’ve met up with Jackie and Eko from Contracts & Procurement to understand the support tasks and the current issues they face whilst supporting the existing Xerox contract.
  • The user guide script has been revised after rolling it out to other test users, with the aim of it being more useful with using less words.


  • Although the contract has been drafted, the fleet design (i.e. what devices will go where) needs to be ironed out. We’re in the final stages of discussion on this with Canon and hope to have it agreed over the next sprint

Next sprint:

  • We’re continuing our work with libraries, liaising with them as to how many devices there should be in each library
  • We’re going to share our testing results with Canon, to make them aware of the issues we’ve faced with the POC device
  • We’re going to meet up with Facilities Management, to understand their support process. We were supposed to meet up but had to reschedule
  • There are a few uncertainties in regards to printing rules, so we’re going to have conversations with Canon to understand what restrictions are possible (e.g. max pages per print job, maximum pages per user per day) are possible so we can make decisions on what to put in place
  • With Google Cloud Print ceasing to exist at the end of this year, we’re thinking ahead of how this will affect printing and our potential contingency plan. Canon are confident they will have an alternative solution in place by then but we need to understand the worst case scenario
  • Once uncertainties have been ironed out, we hope to sign off the POC and contract so we can order our first lot of devices

Thank you for reading,


Networks Matter

Network redesign Week notes week ending 31/01


The bad thing about Networking, its become such a common throwaway term for human interaction that we often take it for granted. We actually have reached a point in the handling of our networks that we now freely allow people to access our networks on social media platforms without truly appreciating the power that is held in human connections.

There is a great value that is built through simply connecting with people. Whether, it’s going to a show that your friend recommended, a restaurant or purchasing that much-needed item, usually we look for validation from some source, 9/10 times that source comes from our network. I really didn’t want to come across too deep but what I’m trying to say is that Networks in any shape or form mean something.

“Network Redesign” is one project which I am slowly starting to appreciate for all its intricacies and all the different dependencies, which when you peel away every layer you can only show a resounding appreciation for the underpinning value that brings all these different services to our colleagues and public service, this being the network holding all these things together.

If you are unclear as to the purpose of the ‘Network Redesign’ project and the end destination of our ‘Roadmap’, hopefully, this will help jog your memory.

The ‘Network Redesign’ project’s end goal is to enhance the Council network infrastructure through the architectural redesign of the current council infrastructure network and the upgrading of associated hardware. The new infrastructure design will have a ‘Web First’ strategy at its core and enable users (Council employees and members of the public), to access council services from any of our offices without being bound to a local server.

Objectives for the current Sprint

  • Begin workshop testing for potential Firewall solutions at the datacentre and access layer
  • Confirm the scheduled rollout of the Wi-Fi upgraded installations at the recommended council sites
  • Complete the business case for the purchasing of switches for the user network (Both the access layer and the distribution layer) To find more about the three-tier architectural model you find further details here
  • Agree on the next steps for any of the UPS solution

Begin workshop testing for potential Firewall solutions for the data center and access layer

The team has begun to explore the remote firewall solution for both the access layer and datacenter level. This has actually come about quite organically in the natural progression from the Firewall architectural designs, which we had finished in previous Sprints.

We are now at a point where the team has begun approaching recommended vendors to see what is on the market to meet our requirements. These solutions are currently being tested for suitability within the context of a user workshop environment and scored against a user requirements criteria (Weighting Sheet) based on our end requirements, which the team will intend to use for the final roundtable assessment which we will base our final decision on.

Confirm the scheduled rollout of the Wi-Fi upgraded installations at the recommended council sites.

We are now in communications with all the relevant vendors as well as having agreed on all the specific site locations. The next steps will be to start road mapping the roll-out of these installations so we can project the completion of all scheduled works.

Complete the business case for the purchasing of data center user network switch

A key dependency on the completion of the data center migration is the purchasing of the user network switch. For this to happen the business case must be completed and supplied in time for the scheduled work to begin. This work is now underway

Agree on the next steps for the UPS solution

A UPS (uninterruptible power supply) solution has yet to be included in our current thinking for Network planning. The team has used this sprint to kick start that process with the aim to agree on the way forward as a team by the end of the upcoming Sprint.

What we have found challenging

The resource has proved challenging once again. We are a small team, however, the knowledge the members have on the current network and the infrastructure is quite specialist and often called on in emergency call outs. As these occasions do tend to be quite unpredictable the need for team members to provide guidance and hands-on solutions can be quite necessary. As a result, this has had a natural impact on our productivity.

Next steps

–       To complete a business case for the network switchs

–       Further the discovery phase for the Firewall solution

–       Collect all the missing components required in order to confirm the roadmap completion date for the installation of the Wi-Fi upgrades for our targeted locations

Benefits and Housing Needs Service Redesign Project – Kick-Starting 2020

It’s been an exciting first month for the team as we continue to develop Information + Evidence, the Single View, the SMS tool and start work on Understanding Vulnerability. It’s great to have the team back together for 2020. We’re also glad to announce that three more people are now working with us.

What have we been doing?

New Year, new plan. We’ve hit the ground running and all the things are starting to happen, it’s great to see so much activity.

The SMS tool pilot has begun with service staff, bringing them up to speed on the purpose and how to best use it. This meant we needed to think about the on-boarding experience for the resident we’re communicating with, cue some quality time as a team to think about the best way to do this.

The Single View continues to be our favourite, with developers starting to add features requested by staff. One of them is DOCUMENTS! Users are now able to preview and view any document stored in any system when looking at a resident’s information. We’re also running time trials with test users, saving a service officer 25 minutes in collating information they need.

In these next few months the team will be looking at how we can start to collaborate more with other services in the council, with a shared understanding of vulnerability. Already we’ve started to map out what this work is and isn’t.

With the team starting to define the characteristics that could suggest a resident needs an intensive, holistic, multidisciplinary service. As well as characteristics that could suggest a resident can help themselves with the right nudging/coaching. We’ll be focusing on how we best balance vulnerability with assets.

What are we learning?

As you can see we’re working on a lot. Meaning our learnings must be a lot as well, right?

Some of our highlights include:

Single View:

“makes work a lot easier to locate information, I think it is very efficient as it saves a lot of time”

“it’s saved me so much time and has created a clearer and more detailed picture on my client’s situation and history, allowing me to carry out better quality, more tailored, assistance and support”

SMS Tool:

residents are keen to be texted actions

officers believe the tool will help increase engagement

officers are keen to filter messages by teams

officers would like templates and mass texting

SMS contact increases awareness of data protection

Information & Evidence:

“if we tell residents their wait time they won’t believe us, but when they see it on a computer they will”

“the tool is useful for the team (customer services), it gives us more leverage to talk about the private rented sector”

“this tool will encourage those in temporary accomodation to be more proactive in finding a property”

What does this mean for you?

Over the next two weeks we’ll be running a number of workshops on understanding vulnerability and managing expectations through communication. We’re looking forward to sharing our findings in our next update.

The team is keen to start rolling out all our new tools as fast as possible, so we need your help and expertise with testing. Like always, please let Claire or Scott know if you want to get involved with any of the projects.

Next Show & Share, 10:30 5th February 2020, Kitchen Area, Pillar B, First Floor, Hackney Service Centre.

Manage a Tenancy Re-Platforming Weeknotes : Week ending: 2020-01-31

Weeknotes are a way for us to keep people informed about progress on the project. Given the technical nature of the re-platforming work we will use them to explain technical choices that we are making, including the benefit and impact of these choices. 

Project goals

  • Enable housing officers to use MaT offline when there is poor mobile coverage
  • Enable Hackney to decommission Outsystems, saving £80,000 per year
  • Enable Hackney to support, develop and deploy future improvements to MaT more quickly, at lower cost

Sprint goals:

The goals for this sprint are to:

  1. Replatform all of the Tenancy and Household Check and Home Check frontend (including save and return and unable to enter property journey)
  2. Address any issues or feedback from offline testing and acceptance testing 
  3. Get in a position to start testing Tenancy and Household Check and Home Check with users by first week of February

Good things

The new processes work offline. We have tested offline functionality with the team and it is working well. 

Tenancy and Household check has largely been built. We have completed most of this process now, and it has gone through acceptance testing with Gill. We were able to show this off at a show and tell this week, which was a success.

We’ve completed the key pieces of backend work that we needed. This includes connecting the processes to the Hub and building the image retrieval API endpoint.

We’re still on track to get the rebuilt service in front of Housing Officers during February. This will include Tenancy and Household Check and Home Check in the first instance, with Introductory Tenancy Visit to come slightly later. Achieving this goal means there will be some finalising work needed after the end of this current sprint, but we believe that this is manageable.  


We have planned the remaining work to make it easier for Hackney to continue once dxw have moved on. F will continue on the project to complete the remaining front-end work.  We have prioritised the most complex pieces of this work to make best use of their time; in the event that more work needs completing beyond next week then we will support Hackney in taking this forward. Having a successful handover is key to this. F will continue to work with Hackney on another project, which will make this handover much smoother. 


We have a long list of outstanding front-end tasks that need to be completed. This includes building some of the remaining pages, addressing acceptance testing feedback, and some styling changes. However the complexity of these outstanding tasks is low, and they are achievable.

We still need to handover the data-driven frontend system to Hackney. As well as handing over the task of assembling process steps (which is straightforward), we want to handover management of the data-driven frontend (remultiform) system. This will work best when Emma is actually working on the project; she will be picking this up with F on Monday. 


Thanks to everyone who worked on the project this week – Ana, David, Emma, F, Gill, Mirela, Richard and Tuomo.  

What’s next

  1. F will be ploughing through the remaining frontend tasks
  2. Gill will be continuing to review the final process steps that F is building  
  3. Gill will be recruiting housing officers for private beta testing in tenants’ homes
  4. Richard will work with Emma on clarifying the scope of follow-on work that is needed after this sprint. We will be timeboxing this follow-on work

The following people will be working on the project next week:

  • Ana
  • David 
  • Emma
  • Gill
  • Lorraine
  • Mirela 
  • Tuomo