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Digital Customer Programme: Show & Tell #14 with Newham Council

Graeme McCubbin, March 20, 2017

With increasing project momentum comes a much bigger Show & Tell space. Moving from the buzz of the Hive working space, where Show & Tells were previously held, the Digital Team have now invited colleagues to join them in their bigger working studio space, located in a much more central area within the building.

Now directly in the heart of the Newham Council offices, this is the next Show & Tell instalment in the Digital Customer Programme.

Newham Council Show and Tell 14-1

Currently focussing on four Discovery phase strands and one Alpha phase, the team share the progress that has been made across the last two-week sprint:

Discovery #1: Workplace

Newham Workplace is a service in which residents can receive advice about their employment options and where employers place their vacancies to recruit employees. Originally developed to ensure local residents can benefit from local regeneration, the team are exploring how this service can work more efficiently.

Progress across the last sprint, shared by Dawn of the Newham team, includes:

  • Exploring how residents use Workplace to find roles and the necessary training and support needed
  • Addressing the channels and teams in which residents enter into this service
  • Mapping out the current user journey, from the very first step of ‘unaware’ straight through to ‘applying for a vacancy’

Newham Council Show and Tell 14-2

The next steps in this Workplace Discovery include:

  • Identifying and addressing individual ‘failure to attend’ incidences to begin understanding why residents may not be attending their appointments
  • Speaking with individual employers, beginning with a series of a telephone interviews

Discovery #2: Enforcement and Safety

As a part of Newham’s community safety, residents can use a variety of channels (including the Love Newham smartphone app) to report concerns regarding anti-social behaviour or environmental issues, such as fly-tipping. The Enforcement and Safety service plays a major role in resolving these issues. One of the main concerns reported by residents is that they would like to be better informed of progress made on these cases.

Newham Council Show and Tell 14-3

Progress across Enforcement and Safety so far includes:

  • Shadowing Newham Law Enforcement Officers and carrying out a number of interviews with residents during these sessions
  • Analysing this research to begin uncovering key insights and any trends that may be emerging
  • Introducing a workshop to begin sketching early-stage service concepts to then test with residents
  • Relating this all back to the main question to be answered: “How might we provide better updates to residents who have reported issues?”

The next steps include:

  • Writing up user stories and personas to serve as guidelines for a potential Alpha phase
  • Assessing the potential impact for residents and businesses, based on a reduced service demand on the Customer Service Centre as a result of better feedback from the service
  • Addressing how the improved service would integrate into the already-existing systems
  • Identifying recommendations in going forward

Discovery #3: Parking Appeals

Parking Appeals is the service in which residents can pay or challenge their Penalty Charge Notice (PCN). Progress to date, shared by Lawrence, includes:

  • Understanding how the current end-to-end PCN system works, from entry to exit
  • Further interviewing, beginning to generate insights from current users of this service and those who have previous experience in the PCN process
  • Beginning to build up the outputs from these sessions, as a starting point to work from
  • Holding a workshop with service staff to sketch early-stage ideas of how this journey could be smoother and the experience improved for end users

Newham Council Show and Tell 14-4

The next steps the team will be taking in Parking Appeals include:

  • Investigating the planned upgrades to the current technical system behind this service to begin understanding how our proposed solution could integrate with it
  • Writing up recommendations for a potential Alpha, focusing on opportunity areas identified during the Discovery, such as presenting evidence of infringement more transparently, re-addressing the tone of voice used within PCN letters, and looking at the language used in communicating recommendations on how to avoid further tickets

Discovery #4: Council Tax and Benefits

Council Tax and Benefits service covers everything from council tax payments to various benefits that residents with lower incomes can apply for, such as housing benefit or council tax reduction. The services support centre is in heavy demand from residents asking for explanations about decisions to award or suspend benefits, or for clarification of benefit overpayments.

A few sprints into this Discovery phase so far, the team share progress of what’s been happening across the last two weeks:

  • Investigating the tone of voice used within benefit letters, looking into the type of language and content used, and seeing how residents relate with this
  • Heading out into East Ham to validate potential pain points with a range of residents from across the borough
  • Reading through letters received by individual residents to understand how they relate with the content used (“With a green pen, please circle any information you may think is important”, “With a red pen, please circle any information you may find confusing”)

The next steps in Council Tax and Benefits include:

  • Further interviews with residents
  • Preparing for a concept development workshop with service staff

Alpha #1: Homelessness Online

The final strand of this Show & Tell - Homelessness Online. This is Newham’s first service to pass through the Discovery phase, now heading through Alpha. With user requirements identified, the team have now progressed through to testing live prototypes of parts of this service. Across these last two weeks, the team have been running a low-fidelity prototype, which residents have been using and succeeding in progressing through.

Newham Council Show and Tell 14-5

As well as live testing, the team has been:

  • Conducting further shadowing sessions at the Homelessness Triage Centre, focusing on interviews with those residents who have recieved notification letters
  • Finding out the answers to questions such as: “Do people understand what a Section 21 is?”
  • Planning integrations into the council’s Data House system to begin building up a fuller picture of individual residents through various silos of data

Newham Council Show and Tell 14-6

Come along to a Show & Tell

If you work within a local government team and would like to come along to one of the Show & Tell sessions at Newham Council, get in touch with Martyn (our Head of Product) by emailing to attend as our guest.