Position update

We're getting closer to our first launch of the open source version of the LocalGov IMS.

The LocalGov IMS project is a collaborative effort between the participating council’s, supported by DLUHC. The team is delivering a shared Income Management System, designed by local government for local government. At this stage the vision is to build a free, reusable and open source IMS, for the public good, that’s easy and affordable to maintain and enhance.

This update covers recent progress on the project. There have been a few changes and progress was impacted. Progress has picked up and we’re getting closer to our first launch of the open source version of the IMS, so now is a good time to share where we are.

Changes to the project team

We recently welcomed Lewisham Council to the project. Colleagues from Lewisham are learning from the experiences of the councils soon to use the IMS, this will help inform their approach in the future. We said goodbye to our colleague from Huntingdonshire Council. We are very grateful for their contributions since the Discovery phase, and it was a shame to see them leave the project. We’re hoping to re-engage with Huntingdonshire in the future.

There was a change to our development team, and we said goodbye to Dan from Barnsley who’d been working on the project since the start and was fundamental to the design and development of the IMS. We were happy to welcome back Zoe, who had previously worked on the IMS and returned to support the development work.

We welcomed Molly to the delivery team. Molly’s analysis skills are helping to progress some of the tasks on the backlog, including monitoring and evaluation work for DLUHC.

Jenny from dxw has been supporting the team recently, helping to refresh our communications.

Increasing our focus on end-users

To date the project has been predominantly a development led project, with periodic engagement with finance subject matter experts who are future end-users of the IMS. This approach has worked well.

We recently found making decisions about some technical approaches difficult, this is because we’re building something with two councils (Barnsley and Dorset) at the forefront, but we’re aware in the future the features need to work well for other councils.

We decided more involvement from finance colleagues who are just now becoming end-users of the LocalGov IMS would be helpful. Since deciding this, we’ve held a number of workshops and extended our stand-up invite. We’ve decided to initiate a regular user forum, when users can come together to see changes to the LocalGov IMS and share their feedback.

Development progress

The team has been progressing through the development roadmap, which reflects the scope of a minimum viable IMS. The team have worked on the following elements in line with the scope:

  • Enabling exports
  • Enabling gov.uk Pay services
  • Enabling account reference validation
  • Enabling imports

Alongside this work ongoing enhancements have been made.

Migrating to the shared IMS

Barnsley council are migrating to the open source variant of the LocalGov IMS as they’re still currently using their original pre-project instance. They are currently assessing all of their import and export processes with a view to making them generic and open source such that when they switch over, they’ll be able to share them for reuse by other councils. Dorset have deployed a copy of the open source codebase to their environment and are applying configuration settings to be able to test its use with various services.

Engaging with other councils

We met with team members from another DLUCH project - the Revs and Bens project. We discussed the approach to going open source, and in particular which license to use. It was helpful to discuss the work with another team. We also met with colleagues from Greenwich Council, to talk more broadly about re-use of technology, and share experiences of the IMS project.

Progress in other areas

We’ve begun to revamp the project website. Moving from a site that is focused on the project, to one that focuses on the IMS as a solution, which councils can take on. We’ll be working with Jenny and designers at dxw to support the redesign of the website.

Monitoring and evaluation metrics are being developed, and we’re looking to gather benchmarking information next. We’ve agreed that Dorset will make a good case study for this work.

We’ve had lots of support from our DLUCH Engagement Manager which has been valuable.

What’s left to do

This week we held a workshop looking at how the IMS enables reconciliation. We expect this will be the focus of the next sprint, which starts on Monday.

There are some changes to make to the IMS, to improve experience for end-users. We’ve already undertaken a review of content accessibility, so we have an idea of what should change.

We’re to finalise decisions in a few areas we’ve discussed before, these include: our governance model and how changes are made to the IMS, deciding the open source license we’ll use, and deciding how support will be provided when needed.

Finally, we are planning to meet as a team in person soon, which we’re all looking forward to!