Delivering HackIT’s homeworking service – Devices: Weeknote 1 – w/c sometime in mid-March

Go Faster Wallace And Gromit GIF by Aardman Animations
Never before has a stop-motion animated dog summed up my working life over the past 7 weeks.

Patience is a virtue, good things come to those who wait, better late than never…

These are the reasons I’m giving for writing the first weeknote, after 6 weeks of lockdown and 7 weeks since we started to deliver devices differently to enable our colleagues to work from home. 

The main reason however is that these past 7 weeks have been incredibly intense (as they have for so many). Spinning a thousand different plates while juggling several balls. Weeknotes have therefore not had any chance to elbow themselves into the working week, alongside other things. 

So, what’s been happening?

This work started back after the 16 March government announcement that people should work from home. I’d come back from a weird little jaunt to Romania and began working with Nigel, Manzela, Ali, Yulian, John and Indran from the devices team on refurbishing hundreds of old windows laptops into linux machines so that they could be deployed to staff who didn’t have device to enable them to deliver services from home. 

Ollie was leading on this and once these laptops had been built, I worked with Liz,Tim, and Sandrine to understand who needed them. This information had been given to us by the Business Continuity Leads of each service, so we needed to collate it, and get the devices deployed so staff could set themselves up working from home. 

At this point, it was unclear if a full lockdown would happen and events were evolving rapidly, so we didn’t know from one day to the next how long we had to do what we needed to do. The vast majority of devices were deployed by Friday 20th March – the day the pubs had to shut (as history will forever call it). 

We still had a few people in critical services to get devices to and we had planned two further sessions the w/c 23rd March. This was the day the full lockdown was announced and this week was an intense week working closely with social care teams and other front line priority services to get them the devices they needed. At this point social distancing was now a thing and so we had to rethink how we did the deployment to ensure the safety of colleagues in the two sessions held. This meant things happened slower, but safely. 

Massive, massive thanks to Ali, Indran and John for volunteering to come in and do the deployments that week. 

This was definitely a couple of weeks of just doing the thing and reacting to events. We set up a temporary deployment service super quick and had to change and adapt quickly and this meant we sometimes got things wrong, missed a thing, dropped a thing and forgot a thing. We could have organised our data differently, ensured comms were a bit more consistent, understood needs of users better. But the unique situation we were in didn’t afford us these luxuries at this point. 

The result was the vast majority of our colleagues now had a device to enable them to carry on providing critical services from home. 

Massive thanks to Ollie, Colin, Cate D, Paul and Mal for keeping me sane, keeping me going and keeping me laughing during that time. And the first virtual pub session, which was hilarious and just what we needed! 

And special mention to Henry who was brilliantly supportive in getting stuff done, and giving me time and help when I needed it in such a calm way, despite the massive pressure he was obviously under. 

I’d only started 6 months before this all kicked off. I’d never worked in IT before and certainly never tried to do what we did in such circumstances. I’m not usually a blower of trumpets, but with this, as a good northerner would say: I felt well chuffed. I don’t think I’ve ever worked so intensely and at such a fast pace on so many new, different things as I did in those first two weeks. 

This was also the period of the great loo roll and pasta drought (as history will forever call it). This baffled and bemused me as I’d stumble to the supermarket after intensely staring at a screen for 12 hours straight to just stare at some fairly empty shelves, and conclude in exhaustion that Dairy Milk and Pringles are totally ok for a grown adult to have for breakfast outside festive season.

It’s at this point I temporarily leave the project for a couple of weeks…

TO BE CONTINUED…

Report a Problem week notes : 01/05/20

GOOD THINGS

HackIT was very pleasantly surprised by the effort to implement location-based routing. This means that hopefully we will be able to re-include a significant number of FixMyStreet issue categories that we had to previously exclude as they are dealt with by different teams in the council depending on where it is.

Automated security testing is now regularly taking place. This has been a great example of collaboration between the HackIT Infrastructure team and mySociety.

We had an excellent set of feedback on both the category list and FixMyStreet itself from our Customer Contact Centre team. We’ve learned a lot from going through it and will be working out what updates we need to make because of it next week.

We have a new draft project plan in place. After being knocked for six by covid-19 we’re starting to get a new delivery timeline together.

LEARNED THINGS

Don’t assume the amount of time it will take to do technical implementation. We’re were planning to go ahead with our MVP deployment with a significantly reduced number of supported categories but hopefully now that won’t be the case.

DIFFICULTIES

To be honest I’ve been really struggling with finding time to work on Report a Problem this week. There’s a lot going on with other projects and by backlog of RaP work and list of unreplied Basecamp messages gets ever bigger. Three of my other projects should end or be significantly reduced by the end of next week so I’m looking forward to having more time to spend on this.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Our widely distributed team continues to do great work on this. Thanks to Matthew, Louise H., Louise W., Struan, David, Dave, Rasit, William, Ade, Sandrine, Emma O. and many others.

WHAT’S NEXT

Many things.

  • Confirming the new project timeline
  • Finalise the MVP category list
  • Confirming the updated ways of working process diagram with everyone
  • Staff single sign-on
  • Drafting web site updates
  • Finishing off being able to send automated emails from the Hackney domain
  • Setting up mySociety 3rd line support for our Applications Support team

Asbestos project – week note 01/05/20

This is the first week note for this project. We will be providing more information every Friday.

This week has been very much about coming up to speed. This has meant learning about the council’s new 3rd party cloud-based asbestos information and planning system Shine as well as understand which teams in the organisation need to be aware of or work with asbestos as part of their roles.

We’re in the process of putting together our Hub doc where we’ll record or link to the following.

  • The project vision and goals
  • Our shared collaboration tools like Trello (for our backlog) and Google Docs
  • The stakeholders and how we communicate with them
  • The budget and timeline
  • Our user research
  • Any technical work that’s undertaken

I’m looking into planning the user research next week to make sure that we really understand what the end users of any work we might do really need before we progress any further.

After that we’ll speak to the suppliers of Shine and the capabilities of our existing systems to see how everything lines up and then plan what we’ll do next.

Printing from Comino via GOV.UK Notify – week notes : 01/05/20

This phase of the project is now complete. We will be kicking off the first printing from Comino to Notify on Monday with one letter type being sent. We expect to add two more in the next week and more in the near future after.

We had a excellent retrospective which helped the new Product Owner for Notify setting into the role and for the group to think about how the council could expand the use of that Government as a Platform service in future.

The Project Pause document has been completed and HackIT Applications Support will be supporting the service via the Service Desk from 11/5/20.

The final show and tell for this piece of work can be seen below but expect to hear a lot more about the use of GOV.UK Notify from HackIT in the near future.

Hackney Re-Platforming Week notes Week ending: 2020-05-01

SUMMARY

We’re still in the process of gracefully closing down this project – although there’s still plenty we could do for the service in the future.

This week we had our Service Standard assessment. This had been in the calendar for some time but as the date approached we considered trying to move it out as several team members had been recently tasked to work on other projects and we hadn’t had sufficient time to prepare. Our assessment lead was keen to keep this date though as it would prove very difficult to get everyone in a room at the same time again. So, we decided to try an experiment where, instead of the delivery team arriving with a full set of evidence for every assessment point we had a full collaboration between the team and the panel to derive the evidence during the session. This worked really well via the virtual meeting format. We split into 3 groups (Agile methods, UR/UX and technical) who had their own Google Meet discussion rooms. Each group filled in a common share Google Presentation. The system worked really well and we left with a lot to think about and two weeks to tidy the evidence before it goes back to the panel for a final review.

We’ve booked in a final security (PEN) test and a review of our new services accessibility.

Next week we’ll be closing everything down apart from the last development sections to implement Home Check and Initial Tenancy visit which we expect to quick and easy thanks to our new data-driven front-end system.

We’ll still be producing week notes until that’s complete.

CURRENT PRIORITIES

  • Conclude the PEN and accessibility testing
  • Finalise the end-of-project documentation
  • Ensure we have a template for creating new processes
  • Make sure Ana and Wayne continue their upskilling in the new data-driven front-end