IMS Discovery - Week 18

Were back! Its been nice to have a little almost-downtime and now an opportunity to regroup.

We began the week with a little Sprint Planning, setting out the change in direction and agreeing the adjustments we needed to make that would allow that to happen. Practically that meant changing some of the questions in our discussion guide - a document that’s been steering our user research sessions from the beginning.

Having adjusted the questions in there to have more of a feasibility and viability focus, while still being open, we took the opportunity to make sure we were getting all the information that we needed. That sounds a little daft, but earlier in the project we’d had some feedback from Egle at MHCLG about things that our project outputs must include. We ran a gap analysis there and made sure we were covering the missing topics.

The conference room at the DXW Digital office in Hoxton

On Tuesday we had two really good sessions down in London. In the morning we spent time in DXW Digital’s Hoxton office with colleagues from Huntingdonshire District Council, discussing feasibile operating models - reference Saul’s earlier mindmap. Essentially how might we offer and run our IMS such that other council’s can use it. Saas? Multi-tenanted? Multi-instanced? Open sourced? Costed? How might support work? Did we need a Service Desk?

The long and short of it is that the software itself is only a very small piece of the puzzle. In fact the smallest piece! Council’s need support arrangements, assurances that the product has longevity, real-time access to its data, procurement rules and approaches to consider, audit requirements to adhere to, the list goes on! I admit some of this flew over my head but Saul had it down, and when he paired up with James on it later to digest it, all became much clearer.

Then we had a wander through Shoreditch and over to The White Chapel Buiding in… Whitechapel. That’s the home of the GOV.UK Pay product team and it was lovely to see them all again - we’d met Katie Bates and Miriam Raines earlier in our IMS journey when we’d supported their Discovery work with North East Lincolnshire Council.

The White Chapel Building in Whitechapel

In that session we very briefly discussed some of the integration requirements with the Pay product that we’d identified and whether or not certain things were possible. They were, so happy days! We spent the rest of that session support their next Discovery project into automated telephone payment systems - we have everything crossed that that work will lead to an alpha project that we can support.

On the Wednesday we interviewed Cherwell District Council and South Northamptonshire Council. Sharon had stayed over in London and travelled up where James had joined her. The Barnsley contingent joined in remotely and we put our revised discussion guide into practice. Another fantastic session and the findings from it fit beautifully into our Switching Forces diagram.

That’s what we did on Thursday. We spent the day back in Leeds analysing all of our learning to date updating our various project output documents - including preparing our final end of project report in readiness for the 31st Jan deadline.

On Friday we supplemented our Hoxton session with desk research looking for other successful co-developed open source provisioning models outside local government, trying to find something relevant and meaningful but it turns out what we’re trying to do is fairly unique in the UK.