Our approach

Our overall approach to this project is through agile and user-centred methodologies, cross-authority collaboration and open and transparent communication.

Agile, user-centred methodologies 

Aligned with the GDS Service Standard, GDS Service Manual and Local Digital Declaration, our approach for this collaborative project is through agile methodologies.

(Source: GOV.UK)
Our multidisciplinary project team has been working within the framework of agile sprints – short, two-week learning cycles. Each sprint included activities to learn, synthesise, and share new knowledge, ensuring:

  • User needs are prioritised at the forefront of project direction and any key decisions 
  • Continuous learning and adapting to change is central to our approach
  • Short sprint learning cycles are implemented — making, testing and learning in order to respond to user needs

Primary user research across UK-wide authorities.

Each sprint also includes key agile meetings:

Daily standup — sharing daily updates across the team and identifying any blockers

Sprint planning — scoping, prioritising and agreeing project work for over a two-week period

Show & Tells — sprint updates to wider teams and stakeholders

Retrospectives — looking back on the previous sprint to identify what has gone well, not so well and puzzles, continuously improving the process going into the next sprint

Sharing sprint progress with planning teams.

Cross-authority collaboration

At the very core of the MHCLG Local Digital Fund and BoPS is the need to be a project that addresses common local service challenges in common, reusable ways.

Our approach needs to ensure that any learning and outputs from this project can be adopted across multiple local authorities, regardless of demographics (location, size, number of employees, digital capabilities and accessibility requirements).

To achieve this, our team is:

Working with a wide pool of project partners — to ensure what we are doing can work across multiple local authorities, we are working as a team of five individual authorities (Southwark, Croydon, Coventry, Hackney and Greater London Authority), as well as MHCLG

The alpha phase alignment workshop with project partners.

Recruiting and onboarding a wide demographic — our team is actively recruiting non-London and London, rural and inner city local authorities across the UK, ensuring representative groups of users
Carrying out primary research on location — undertaking primary user research (interviews, shadowing, process mapping, co-design sessions) across individual UK authorities to gain an understanding of their user needs and wider process and technical landscapes

Open and transparent communication 

To ensure open communication across the project, our team has embedded a core set of tools and practices, including:

A cloud-based team toolkit — Slack for day-to-day team conversation (using the shared PlanTech workspace for wider working), Trello as our project board, Google Drive as our team drive and Whereby for video conferencing

Regular Show & Tells — 30-minute Show & Tells each sprint to share progress and next steps, providing a platform for feedback and strategic input from stakeholders (as well as recording each Show & Tell for those who are unable to be there in person)

Publishing weeknotes — sharing progress each week through publishing project weeknotes on the Innovate Southwark website
Sharing videos — recording and sharing short videos of team activities

On-location Show & Tells — heading out to further locations to share project progress, including the All London Borough Planning Officers meeting

The team sharing progress on location.

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A user-centred Back-office Planning System (BoPS) for local authorities

BoPS is a collaborative local authority project, funded by the MHCLG Local Digital Fund and led by Southwark Council & Partners.

  1. About the project
  2. Project background
  3. Our approach
  4. User research
  5. Discovery phase
  6. Alpha phase
  7. Beta phase
  8. Weeknotes and sprint notes

If you are part of a local authority team or an interested party and would like to find out more about contributing, collaborating and/or our approach, please get in touch:

Project contact
Tom Buttrick, Southwark Council


Michelle Isme, Delivery Manager, Unboxed


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