IMS Alpha - Pre-sprint 1 week notes

Over the past couple of weeks we’ve been preparing to start our first sprint. The focus has been to form a team and hold a project inception.

Project team

Saul as Product Manager and Isobel as Delivery Coach 

About the project

dxw worked on the Income Management System (IMS) discovery. Discovery explored the appetite for the Barnsley IMS, and how a user-centred solution designed by Councils for Councils could be shared, delivered and maintained over time.

MHCLG have funded an alpha phase of the project (as part of the local digital collaboration fund). The alpha is a collaborative effort between three Councils:

  • Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council
  • Huntingdonshire District Council
  • Dorset Council 

The alpha will explore further what the Barnsley IMS looks like when it becomes a shared product. Formalise the appetite amongst councils and formalise the IMS offer for them. 

What’s happened so far

Over the past couple of weeks we’ve been preparing to start our first sprint. The focus has been to form a team and hold a project inception. 

We’ve formed a team, made up of colleagues from each of the three councils involved, and supported by dxw. Our delivery manager from Barnsley will be essential in coordinating the different parties involved - we’ll support them to do this.

We completed our project inception this morning. We collectively identified a project vision. We need to spend time refining the vision further, but we known the core components:

  • a system designed, owned and used by local government 
  • improve the current experience for IMS users
  • reduce the [cost] burden for councils
  • introduce greater flexibility and choice
  • an open source product 
  • optional managed service

We also identified the main areas of focus, which we plan to translate into clear goals:

  • demonstrate value for money (and cost savings)
  • improved IMS architecture and design (and service design)
  • user engagement (appetite and adoption) and improved user experience 
  • design a managed service/support offer for IMS
  • evidence based options for IMS that meet users needs

We’ve engaged with MHCLG and gained a good understanding of their expectations for the project and deliverables.

We’ve dedicated time to exploratory desk research. We’ve looked for documentation from Councils who have bought an IMS in the last few years, so far we’ve found 32.


It’s been hard forming the team, but we’ve reached a team shape now. We’re not sure yet how much time everyone will dedicate to the project, but we’ll figure this out when we plan our sprints. 

Due to a delayed start to sprint 1, changes to the team may be needed before the alpha is completed. We’ll keep an eye on this and explore how each Council can provide support where needed.   

What we’re doing next

We’ll refine our vision and goals and build a roadmap around these. 

We have a meeting with GOV.UK Pay next week.

Sprint 1 will start on 2 June.