Modern Tools for Housing – Programme week notes 18/3/22

The Modern Tools for Housing programme is the development of a suite of software products developed in collaboration between HackIT and Hackney Council’s Housing Department to support our staff and our tenant and leasehold residents. It currently covers housing repairs, home management, housing finance and support for our arrears collection team.

Highlights from our workstreams this week.

Managed Arrears – Silvia – workstream DM

  • Celebrations:
    • Completed screen for Worktray, Notification and Search page.
    • Integrated the screen into the Finance application.
    • Positive feedback from superusers on the User Interface (UI) for rent statements – post, email and print.
    • Any specified period rent statements pdf production works available, provided data is in the database.
    • Sign off on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) for Send File by Email.
    • Gov Notify Application Programming Interface (API) setup and tested for Send File by Email.  Files now appear on encrypted links for download.
  • Challenges:
    • Testing in development with a small dataset
    • Finding an alternative to Tenancy API for customer email addresses as it is unmaintained
    • Writing Unit Tests for edge cases
    • Getting ready for User Acceptance Testing (UAT) sign off for Send File by Email
    • Figure out how to integrate the property page with Finance as they are using two different APIs.

Finance – Kate – workstream DM

  • Celebrations:
    • New QA Emilia joined the team!
    • The release of the LH estimates MVP and Data Migration into Staging so the users can begin testing the functionality.
    • We made good progress in our transition over to Jira. Our backlog still needs a lot of refinement before we are in an organised agile flow, but the progress feels great.
  • Challenges:
    • Another issue was raised in regards to an incorrect PRN, however this was picked up quickly and a fix pushed to production.
    • The Finance team’s velocity means the SoWs can only run for 6 weeks in order to keep the SoW costings around the £250k mark, which means we have to write SoW’s more frequently.

Manage My Home – Yvonne – workstream DM

  • Celebrate:
    • Welcome to our new QA- Hannah Maher – known as H!
    • Team bonding session in a ‘User Manual of Me’ workshop – which was fun and helped us get to know each other better. Team feels like it’s in a really good place now and they have all the tools to start picking up delivery momentum once they have more capacity.
  • Concerns:
    • New FE dev dropped out at the last minute
    • Still not delivered anything (mainly due to capacity issues and learning agile)

Repairs – Sarah – HackIT workstream DM

  • Celebrations:
    • Legal disrepair alerts are now being displayed
    • The team coped really well this week while we were a developer down
  • Challenges
    • Some performance issues related to the cautionary contacts sheets API
    • The Purdy onboarding features won’t deliver any value until they’re all ready, so we’re going to have a period where we don’t release much

Another busy week in MTFH. Our two new QA engineers started this week and I’m looking forward to chatting to them on Monday. Partly I’m keen to hear about their conversations with our TA about how they’ll be contributing to the programme but I’m also going to ask them to write up the status of each workstream’s tech and data documentation as part of their onboarding. I’m keen to know how easy it is for new starters to get up to speed with our technology.

The Repairs online team has hit the ground running. I’m looking forward to hearing from them next week about standing up their existing open source product ASAP so we can show it to people and get ready for the integrations we need to do.

The recruiting for the new Repairs product team Product Manager has closed and we’ll be interviewing this week. We’re looking for candidates for the other roles to start being sifted and pointed to us for interviews in the near future. At the same time we’re finalising the makeup of the MMH product team next week and will then start looking for a Product Owner for that team very soon.

We’re still having some issues finalising some people’s roles in the programme – more discussions this week. We’re also finding the same thing as every other organisation at the moment – recruiting is hard. We’ve had two potential new starters drop out within two days of their starting date this week.

Our Finance workstream has been laying our plans for at least four releases over the next three sprints. This is great as we’ve been blocked on releases for that team for some time and really want to get into the cadence of doing at least one release every week. We’re also going to be revisiting the Finance SoWs this week to get our next round of work signed off.

In Managed Arrears we’ve paused the release of our next SoW until two further pieces of work have been completed. Firstly we need to reprioritise the roadmap following the introduction of new requirements to support our colleagues who look after arrears for our leasehold properties. Secondly, we need to do further work to complete mapping out the relationship between Managed Arrears and our new RentSense – our new 3rd party AI product which recommends to our Arrears Officers which residents to communicate to have how.

Finally – it’s going to be a sad week for the programme next week as our Delivery Manager for Manage My Home, Yvonne, is leaving Hackney to take up a Senior Delivery Manager position at BBC News. Yvonne has done a fantastic job working with the MMH team – first with our previous agency partner Amido and now Nudge. In both cases she was an exemplary servant leader – coaching the team in all the best practices of self organisation. She’s going to do an amazing job at the BBC. We should know on Monday who her replacement will be and I’ll introduce them next week.

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