Project update

Over recent sprints the team have focussed on preparing for a private beta test.

The IMS project is a collaborative effort between Barnsley, Dorset and Huntingdonshire Council’s, supported by DLUHC. The team is delivering a shared IMS, designed by local government for local government. At this stage (MVP 1, open source IMS) the vision is to build a free, reusable and open source income management system, for the public good, that’s easy and affordable to maintain and enhance.

The project team includes Glen (Dorset), Tony (Huntingdonshire), Richard, Dan and Dean (Barnsley) and Joseph, Marcia and Isobel (dxw).

What’s been happening

Over recent sprints the team have focussed on preparing for a private beta test. This is an important part of the project, and reasons for testing the system are to:

  • Learn how the system works once it’s shared

We know the system works, as Barnsley have first hand experience using it, on a daily basis. But we also need to learn how the system works when it becomes the shared project it’s intended to be. We’ll begin to learn this as soon as we have a second organisation using the system, and continue to learn as that number increases.

  • Understand how the system should develop in the future

We need to grow our user base of the system to inform how the system is to be developed in the immediate and longer-term, as the needs of the organisations using the system should determine this.

  • Understand how we can support new users

We want to understand how we support new users to begin using the system, and this includes moving away from current arrangements. We know this will look slightly different in every organisation, and involve technical, process and people considerations. We’d like to make the transition simple, intuitive and provide support where needed.

We held a show and tell in October, seeking to encourage other councils to take part in private beta. The response was positive and we followed up with 1-2-1 sessions with two councils that showed an interest in participating.

Despite helpful discussions, the appetite to test the IMS over a 6-8 week period with the intention of replacing an existing system was a challenge. The team identified the difficulty competing with well established and highly marketed systems used by councils currently. We recognised our offer was difficult to compare, despite there being many benefits.

So the team decided to change plans, and reduce the ask when it came to private beta. We spoke to Elaine regarding the MoJ model office and decided to take a similar approach.

An IMS model office will be shaped around these aspects

  • The functional elements of the system
  • Ways of working alongside the IMS
  • Working with other organisations using the IMS
  • Expectations from a supplier of a managed service

We’ve chosen to focus the model office on parking fine transactions. We mapped this process, identified where there were gaps in our IMS demo site to facilitate testing, and developed the system accordingly.

What we’re currently doing

  • We’re continuing to plan the model office and prepare a demo site.
  • Louise has been helping us to review the content design of the system. There are two objectives to undertaking this work: to review what’s there, to ensure councils know how to use it, and what functionality does. To provide guidance when developing future features.
  • We’re working closely with DLUHC, discussing our progress on a weekly basis.
  • We’re pushing out comms on a regular basis to build awareness and encourage engagement in the work.
  • We’re revising our sprint plan for the new year.

Next steps

  • The model office will take place in January.
  • In mid January we’ll explore how Dorset may take on the open source IMS.
  • In late January we’ll hold a co-design session focussed on establishing the community of IMS users.
  • We aim to release MVP 1 - open source IMS, in late March. After this point we’ll move onto MVP 2, focussed on a supported version of the IMS.