Sprint Notes #68

Local Digital
Local Digital
Published in
8 min readAug 2

10 July to 24 July

Welcome to Sprint Notes #68! In this issue, we’re sharing the stories of successful digital transformation we’ve heard from councils during Digital Declaration Month 2023. Additionally, you can stay updated with the latest news from our funded projects.

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News from Local Digital

#LocalDigital5Years: Celebrating 5 years of your digital achievements

That’s a wrap for Digital Declaration Month 2023, our month-long celebration of the fifth anniversary of the Local Digital Declaration!

Throughout July, we asked you to join us by tweeting and blogging about how the Declaration has impacted your organisation, including how it’s changed your ways of working or thinking, or helped bring about cultural change.

These are just some of the stories we heard during July — a huge thank you to everyone who took part:

Visit the Council Spotlight blog for more inspirational stories from our signatories — or why not apply to take part in a future issue and showcase the achievements of your organisation?

What’s next for the Declaration?

We recently completed a discovery project to assess the impact of the Local Digital Declaration and help us decide how to use it going forward. Find out how we carried out the discovery, what it identified, and what’s next in this recent blog post.

[The Local Digital Declaration has] helped us focus on key principles & change our approach to our digital development journey.

Isle of Wight Council

New: Council Spotlight: Stockport’s Family Context tool

Our latest Council Spotlight showcases Stockport Council’s digital journey developing their Family Context tool.

In 2018, the Family Context project was awarded funding through the Local Digital Fund to apply data and digital solutions to help ensure young people are safeguarded and fewer end up in care.

The project explored how providing social workers with more complete and contextual information could lead to better decision-making and reduced time spent on finding information for cases.

To learn more about the tool, view the full Council Spotlight.

Digital training needs in councils

The Local Digital team are keen to understand more about the digital training needs in councils to ensure our training offer best meets this.

Hearing from councils will help us to:

  • Understand the range of digital training needs across local government
  • Identify common skills gaps
  • Determine the priority of digital training opportunities we provide

If you’re happy to take part, we ask that your council attend an interview that will take about an hour.

Please email skills@localdigital.gov.uk to arrange a suitable time.

News from our Round 6 funded projects

Delivering an infrastructure mapping platform (Kent County Council)

The Kent project team has achieved significant progress in the past few weeks. They’ve successfully filled the Data Coordinator and Data Analyst roles, after attracting a huge amount of applicants. They’re very excited for the new team members to begin in September.

On the platform front, the team has introduced an initial solution. Though it’s still a work-in-progress, they’re pleased to have introduced their own SharePoint site. They’ve started testing elements of previously developed apps and maps on the site, which is providing some mixed results so far.

In the next two weeks, they’ll be working closely with ICT colleagues to establish functionality of the new SharePoint site to ensure project progress.

Improving Local Authority Building Control Services (London Borough of Lambeth)

The Lambeth project team recently held their first Show and Tell session, presenting insights from the kick-off meeting and shortlisting user researcher applications for interviews. They also assessed the current system’s usage in Lambeth and met with surveyors and admin staff to gain feedback.

In the next sprint, they are hoping to appoint a user researcher and hold a workshop meeting with project partners and the wider Bath and North East Somerset Building Control team. During the workshop they will be analysing the insights from discussions with Building Control Officers and the Technical team.

Improving social care hospital discharges (Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council)

During the last sprint, the Stockport project team have primarily worked on improving the data capture form by adding new fields. The redesigned form now contains key questions about delayed discharge, such as medications, transport, social care and Continuing Healthcare (CHC). Another new development includes an ‘active bed’ flag to identify whether a bed is occupied or not, which was an issue the initial prototype faced.

In the upcoming weeks, they will ensure everyone has access to the form to capture data daily. The focus throughout Spring will be monitoring the data quality and the dashboard. This will also be shared with wider colleagues for feedback on its usefulness.

Improving the automation of the Starters, Movers and Leavers processes (Southampton City Council)

The Southampton project team is continuing to develop a scoping document with background analysis. This will be reviewed with partners from the Isle of Wight on Monday 31 July. A similar session will be set up with Portsmouth City Council.

The project team is now finalised with Scrum Team members and a Product Owner in place. They will be involved in upcoming meetings with stakeholders to input into the scoping document. Team inductions are also scheduled to introduce members to the project and Agile ways of working.

Prototyping a digital taxi licensing service (Rushmoor Borough Council)

The Rushmoor project team launched the alpha project with a hybrid kick-off on 11 and 12 July. Representatives from their four partners attended the session to understand taxi licensing issues and achieve cross-council alignment. Zaizi facilitated the sessions over two days, resulting in a number of problem hypotheses and an agreed problem statement.

Rushmoor’s hybrid kick-off session

The problem statement is: ‘We believe that digitising the taxi “Manage my licence” service will improve outcomes by simplifying the service. It will create a sense of ownership for licence holders and streamline the business process.’

They also established product success metrics for measuring the value of the digital service. Following this, a series of User Research (UR) workshops have been conducted and initial discussions on stakeholder engagement and service mapping have begun.

Rushmoor’s product success metrics

They’ve also scheduled interviews with the licensing teams to understand the pain points, needs and inefficiencies of the service. They’re excited about the learning ahead and thankful for the expertise and commitment shown by their alpha partners.

Continuous funding model (CFM) projects

Family Context (Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council)

You can now sign up to join Stockport for a showcase of the development of their Family Context tool.

The Family Context tool was developed to see if they could apply data and digital solutions to help ensure more young people are well looked after by their families and fewer end up in care. They wanted to provide social workers with easier access to contextual information, support child referrals more efficiently and enable social workers to spend more time helping children and their families.

They hope to have designed a solution that can be replicated by other authorities — attend to find out if your local authority has similar needs and whether Family Context could help address your shared challenges.

Low Code Digital Waste Service (Dorset Council)

The project team have had productive conversations with Medway and Burnley Councils, exploring adoption routes and potential software development collaboration, including sharing developers.

They have also had discussions with Moore Insights and Placecube to finalise the support partnerships. In the next sprint, they aim to agree a plan to embed the organisations into the project.

Greenwich Community Directory (Royal Borough of Greenwich)

Last sprint, the project held workshops with senior colleagues in Adult and Children Social Care teams to gain feedback on user experience (UX) and accent colour. The clear preference was corporate red, and they’ll use layouts and imagery to differentiate from the main council website. They have also focussed on simplifying the behaviour of various website components to speed up delivery.

The team recently held a well-attended meet up for the Outpost/Scout user community to address the challenge of keeping listings up-to-date. The group formed a number of ideas which will be refined in the coming weeks.

Alongside the refinement, the team will focus on building small components to populate page templates and begin content transformation for service descriptions.

Children’s placement portal (Birmingham City Council)

The Birmingham project team is making significant progress with their Children’s Placement Portal. The onboarded team members have a clear understanding of the problem, established ways of working, and the tools needed to support their progress. The team has created a roadmap for research and design tasks and have begun the infrastructure design.

The team has kept stakeholders informed and involved in the project, and their valuable feedback has shaped the initial design.

The next sprint will focus on designing and testing the Create to View referral feature. Technical ‘plumbing’ is in place to enable this development to begin. Plus, they are aiming to enhance the project roadmap to provide a high-level overview of development timescales, ensuring clear direction for future progress.

That’s it for this sprint, thanks for reading! For the daily download on all things #LocalDigital, be sure to follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and the DLUHC Digital Blog.

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Local Digital
Local Digital

The Local Digital team is part of the UK Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities. Read more about our work: https://www.localdigital.gov.uk.