Scoping – Manage Arrears Weeknotes – W/C 10.08.2020

Ideaflip board showing, epics, themes and our vision

Purpose of these weeknotes

The purpose of these weeknotes is to provide an account of the scoping exercise that we did in the week commencing 10th August in order to get feedback. These weeknotes will also provide a general overview of the work that week so that people are aware of what is going on with the project. 

How did we scope?

This is the first time on Manage Arrears that I have been the delivery manager while we have scoped out a new phase so I approached this in my own way. There had been a number of matters as part of Phase 4 where there had been a misalignment of expectations from scoping, especially around ‘Other tenure types’. I was keen that we set up scoping for the next phase 5 to avoid these issues happening again.

To start with we split the scoping sessions between Leasehold and Income Collection team. They have separate priorities for the next phase as they are at different levels of development on the product.

We ran two scoping sessions for each part of the service. In the first session we spoke for an hour entirely about the vision for the next phase. We tried to find a common thread, a desired end state, to link together the functionality clusters that the services were asking for. 

The second session we broke into two halves. The first half we went through the themes and the vision and broke them down to the level of epics. While doing this we recorded our assumptions, our research questions, and a rough outline of what the epic was. 

In the second session we were focusing on estimating how much time we thought that the epics might take, given our assumptions. This was very much a ballpark exercise so that we could work out roughly how long the phase might need to be in order to complete the work and therefore the rough budget ask.

How did it go?

We achieved some of the key things that we set out to in advance. We have two visions that would be useful to guide work during subsequent phases. These are: 

  • Leasehold officers can see information about Major Works and see and update information about Service Charge all in one place
  • Manage Arrears has enough functionality that income collection officers no longer need to use Universal Housing at all in their day to day work

We have a list of themes for both services that we could pursue as part of a next phase and we have started to break these down into epics. We have a list of assumptions and questions that need further research and exploration. We were able to put a rough time (and therefore budget) estimate against these. This is all enough to start writing a business case for Phase 5, which was one of our objectives from the sessions. 

The leasehold session also made us realise that there was a lot of further research that we needed to do before we would be able to undertake some of the work to bring more leasehold functionality into the system. There are still big unknowns about data and Major Works and our next steps will have to involve researching some of these to understand them better.

We got what we needed out of the sessions, so in that sense they were successful. Despite this, I was a bit conscious that there is a danger when you plan things in this way that you slip into a more restrictive project management mindset.

I think that this process is necessary to put together business cases and have a rough sense of what we’re going to do next. There is a risk that it comes at the cost of presenting a whole load of work as ‘things we are going to do in the next phase’. Without those things being open to research or prioritisation this can be very restrictive to a future team. 

This whole process raised questions about what it meant to be agile in the context of (legally) restricted internal processes, making proposals for project funding, and the replacement of a legacy system that has a definite end of shelf life.  

David Durant introduced me to this excellent blog post this week, which I think maps out well the journey that we are probably on. 

I am interested in feedback as to this process – do other people have these same tensions when scoping? How do you approach it to maximise the agility and flexibility?

General overview

This week we continued with the following work: 

  • finalising the first iteration of the service charge worktray
  • building out the court case functionality
  • building out the court agreement functionality
  • finished testing our new classification engine

Previous Show and Tells and weeknotes:

Show and tell 39 video / slides 05.08.2020

Weeknotes 4 W/C 27.07.2020

Show and tell 38 video / slides 22.07.2020

No weeknotes (DM on Annual Leave)

Show and tell 37 video / slides 08.07.2020

Weeknotes 3 W/C 29.06.2020

Show and tell 36 video / slides 24.06.2020

Weeknotes 2 W/C 15.06.2020

Show and tell 35 video / slides 10.05.2020

Weeknotes 1 W/C 01.06.2020

Show and tell 34 video / slides 27.05.2020

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