Sprint Notes #72

Local Digital
Local Digital
Published in
8 min readSep 28

4 September to to 18 September

Welcome to Sprint Notes #72! In this issue, find out what’s next for Future Councils at our Roundtable series and read the latest updates from our funded projects.

Subscribe to Local Digital’s fortnightly Sprint Notes to get the latest news direct to your inbox.

News from Local Digital

Find out what’s next for Future Councils

Join our in-person Roundtable series to hear about what we’ve been working on and find out about potential upcoming funding opportunities!

Over the last few months, we have been working closely with our 8 pilot councils to explore the root causes behind what’s blocking them from becoming modern and resilient.

We hosted our first event at Leeds with 17 council attendees on Wednesday 27 September.

There’s still time to register for the final two events. Don’t miss out:

Find out more in our latest blog post.

Local Digital evaluation study: A snapshot of our initial findings

In March 2023, we commissioned an independent evaluation of the Local Digital programme to understand the impact and value-for-money of the support we offer to local government.

To measure impact, the team is collecting information from a range of different councils using a variety of methods. In our latest blog post, we share some of the interesting findings from our evaluation so far.

You can also hear more at a webinar on Wednesday 18 October, 11am to 12pm. The webinar will be hosted by our evaluation partner, PUBLIC, and will include a discussion of the main digital priorities and challenges faced by councils, as well as benchmarking on topics like cloud adoption, legacy spend, and service area transformation.

News from our Round 6 funded projects

Improving social care hospital discharges (Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council)

The project team is currently in the testing phase, assessing the data’s usefulness and making necessary adjustments to the dashboard. Team members are using this data for discussions, particularly around capacity and client status change.

In addition, the team are evaluating the prototypes through surveys and meetings, gaining valuable insights, and looking for feedback from Manchester and Oldham to join the next project phase. The scope of this next phase will be determined during the next sprint.

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

The team made progress in planning for an in-person workshop at the Lambeth offices in Brixton, marking the completion of their first round of visits to partner offices. They also had a productive catch-up session with the Local Digital team to discuss progress and challenges.

The Lambeth project team welcomed their new user researcher, Aspasia, and took steps to introduce her to the team. With Aspasia leading user interviews and surveys planned, the team is preparing to analyse the valuable insights they are gathering. They want to engage a broad audience to gather data that will inform their metrics and evaluation.

In addition, the team are working on a service map for Building Control. They’re preparing to share updates through social media and internal channels while getting ready for an upcoming Show and Tell session to keep stakeholders informed.

Sharing data to safeguard missing vulnerable adults (Greater Manchester Combined Authority)

The project team is working on developing contracts, project initiation documents (PIDs), and other necessary paperwork for the upcoming supplier onboarding process. They are in communication with the supplier and the Information Governance (IG) team regarding Data Protection Impact Assessment requirements.

Unfortunately, the team had to cancel the kick-off meeting due to low forecasted attendance. However, they plan to distribute a written form to stakeholders for completion within the next two weeks. Following this, they will schedule a meeting with the suppliers to discuss the results.

Looking ahead, the team’s focus will remain on finalising contracts and documentation. They will make progress to gain important information related to Sprint Zero in Newham.

Improving housing advice services to prevent homelessness (London Borough of Newham)

The project team is currently using the CCS Digital Outcomes framework to procure a supplier to deliver the discovery, which will explore contributors to homelessness and access to services that may prevent homelessness. They’ve evaluated the supplier responses and are in the final stages of awarding the contract, with plans to commence work on 6 October.

In the upcoming sprint, the team will continue their contract governance work. To align with the supplier’s proposed plan, they’re in the process of compiling a list of stakeholders for interviews and gathering existing research. This will facilitate a smooth transition into the project’s next phase.

Delivering an infrastructure mapping platform (Kent County Council)

The Kent project team has been busy working on a range of background mechanics. They’ve activated the ArcGIS for SharePoint mapping connector, enabling direct map embedding within the platform. While they’ve faced some challenges, they’ve worked to resolve them, making progress despite the occasional roadblock.

While testing PowerApps, the team decided against using them due to accessibility concerns for their user base. Instead, they will utilise the embedded PowerBI dashboards to effectively meet their requirements.

To discuss user engagement and success criteria, the team had a meeting with Phil James, Community Engagement Manager at Local Digital. They generated valuable ideas to improve the platform’s user experience.

Looking forward, the team will focus on finalising content for the general and overview sections of the platform in the coming weeks. This approach will allow testers, who are also users, to assess the platform’s appearance and usability without getting lost in the technical details.

User journeys into adult social care (ASC) (London Borough of Redbridge)

The project team recently conducted interviews with the Redbridge Adult Social Care First Contact team. This provided insights into team structure and required skills, helping them set up for afternoon shadowing sessions with a nurse, wellbeing officer and an occupational therapist.

Key points raised during the sessions included:

  1. ‘How can we stop people ending up on the waiting list when what they need isn’t relevant for Adult Social Care?’
  2. ‘How can we make people more aware of how they can self-serve, so they can get the help sooner (if they are able), and reduce demand on the Adult Social Care service so those most in need can be helped sooner?’

During the shadowing sessions, the team gained practical insights into the daily work processes and identified system-relation frustrations.

They have also conducted a workshop to explore user experiences, focusing on why people seek Adult Social Care. The team is now looking for creative ways to engage different groups and utilising existing knowledge within the organisation. They plan to deliver a service safari to identify contact points leading people to Adult Social Care.

Improving the automation of the starters, movers and leavers process (Southampton City Council)

Over the past few weeks, the project team has conducted Scrum team sessions, covering team roles, iterative delivery (Sprints), continuous improvement, first refinement session and the backlog of work. They have also planned Sprint ceremonies, including refinement, reviews, retrospectives, and daily stand ups, whilst setting up Azure DevOps as their project’s backlog management tool. Planning and work allocation for Sprint 0 are now complete.

In the next two weeks, the team will kick off Sprint Zero to familiarise themselves with the agile process. They have access to online training and the necessary technical skills to support this. Alongside this, they will continue to populate Azure DevOps with project tasks.

Rapid identification of vulnerable households in an emergency (Westmorland & Furness Council)

In this sprint, the project team has been preparing for an in-person workshop which took place on the 25 September, featuring discussions on legal data sharing principles with contributions from the Data Protection Officer (DPO) at Westmorland and Furness and an external legal advisor. They’ve also outlined user requirements for the prototype, to be confirmed during the workshop.

Operational principles have been discussed and agreed upon with product owners, and these will be verified at the workshop. Collaboration with Northumbrian Water has started to exchange insights from a similar project, and a data sharing questionnaire has been shared with 12 local authority project partners.

In the next sprint, the team will be addressing data sharing challenges, legal foundations, and their integration into the prototype. They’ll also review user requirements and explore potential prototype solutions. Following the workshop, they plan to communicate decisions and agreements to wider stakeholders. They’re aiming to advance their Data Mapping Tool alongside the promotion of their data questionnaire to the 12 local authorities.

Continuous funding model (CFM) projects

Children’s Social Care Demand (East Sussex County Council)

The team has resumed work on the project as the contractor increased resource. They are in the process of forming a multi-project steering group to identify a long-term home (or homes) for the product. Plus, they are actively reviewing user feedback received so far, with a view to developing a revision of the product that better meets user needs.

Their ongoing focus involves reviewing user feedback and refining future plans.

Greenwich Community Directory (Royal Borough of Greenwich)

In the past week, the project team has undergone changes with a new Delivery Manager and a push to improve the Design System process. They held their regular Show and Tell session, offering updates on data migration and showcasing progress on the Directory for the MVP. This content will soon be available on their YouTube playlist.

Process changes were agreed for Design System contributions, emphasising increased collaboration between designers, front-end developers, and back-end developers. Joint planning sessions with the website team are also upcoming to align priorities.

The data migration task has been finalised, with around 332 listings revised, excluding those not meeting agreed standards or outdated ones. Despite a brief pause to resolve a bug in the Outpost container, the team plans to resume when Chris returns next week. In the meantime, they are introducing a rich text editor to Outpost for basic formatting in service descriptions.

The team continues their work to ensure accurate data display in LocalGov Drupal for all service listings on the directory. In the upcoming sprint, their focus remains on building front-end components, particularly completing the Basic Information page, and progressing non-product tasks to advance the MVP.

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.

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