We’ve been working with Hackney Council and MadeTech, collaboratively redesigning their Benefits and Housing Needs. We’re inviting you to follow our work through shared sprint notes as we design a service which is easily understood, fair, accessible and beneficial to Hackney residents. These sprint notes were first published by Hackney. You can follow our process on HackIT, and the other great work happening at Hackney Council.

How many times have you heard the phrase ‘it’s one of those days’?

Unfortunately in this sprint more than once, so much so that it became known as the sprint where things didn’t quite go to plan. Fortunately, the team were able to pull together, focus on the light at the end of the tunnel and still make progress.

SMS tool and document upload

In our previous sprint notes, we talked about how the team's work had “pivoted” to focus on these areas of work.

During the eight weeks that the SMS tool had been available, it was used by 26 staff to contact 340 residents. It’s now scaled up so everybody in the Benefits & Housing Needs Service has access. We look forward to seeing a marked increase in usage over the next sprint.

The document upload tool was designed to help combat the issue of customers no longer being able to drop off documents face-to-face. It was unveiled with a flourish of excitement… but unfortunately, it didn’t work in VMware, which was inconvenient for many officers. The great news is that this has been fixed and testing with officers has begun.

Testing of the Hackney document upload tool has begun

Information and evidence & single view

The plan was for our revised web pages and the waiting time tool to go live on our website this sprint. But three obstacles arose! Firstly, there was a delay in the accessibility assessment. Secondly, there was an error when connecting to one of the legacy systems. And finally, there was an inconsistency with how this tool measured the housing supply in Hackney, compared to another spreadsheet used internally. So again, things didn’t go as planned — fingers crossed for better news next time.

We did, however, have 69 members of staff complete a card sorting activity relating to the Housing Options & Advice website. This gave us a really good insight into how the pages could be organised. But also illustrated that further work is required on designing our pages around customer needs.

The card sorting activity sourced staff opinions on how web content should be organised.

The Single View Crew carried out integration testing and refactoring to reduce bugs and allow future development to take place faster. They also implemented some snazzy display changes in response to the accessibility assessment. The next steps for them are to incorporate Jigsaw documents into a single view.

Shared plan & understanding vulnerability

Sadly the design changes to the shared plan tool to improve officer experience couldn’t be implemented in this sprint. Our brilliant development team was needed elsewhere to fix the waiting time tool and document upload.

Testing, however, continued throwing up some interesting observations about the reluctance of officers to share the live link with residents, and also how to make a truly evolving plan, rather than just writing a list of tasks. These will be explored further in the next sprint.

The work on understanding vulnerability and assets is currently paused to allow the pivoting to SMS tool and document upload. It will be back in the next phase of work (as long as things go to plan)!

Want to know more?

Our most recent show and share Session on 15/04/20.

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