Our overall approach to this project is through agile and user-centred methodologies, cross-authority collaboration and open and transparent communication. The project is centred around the idea that Planning Officers are best placed to understand what they need to be able to carry out an informed, accurate planning assessment - so we have used the experiences and needs of these users to shape the direction of the project.
Agile, user-centred methodologiesAligned with the GDS Service Standard, GDS Service Manual and Local Digital Declaration, our approach for this collaborative project is through agile methodologies.
Our multidisciplinary project team has been working within the framework of agile sprints – short, two-week learning cycles. Each sprint includs 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
Each sprint also includes key agile meetings:
Daily standup — sharing daily updates across the team and identifying any blockers so that these can be resolved as soon as possible, preventing any hold-up on the project’s progression
Sprint planning — scoping, prioritising and agreeing project work for over a two-week period, so that the team knows exactly what they should be working on and why
Show & Tells — sprint updates to wider teams and stakeholders, to maintain interest and engagement with the project
Retrospectives — looking back on the previous sprint to identify what has gone well and what could have gone better, so that the team is continuously improving its aproach to working going into the next sprint
Sharing sprint progress with planning teams at the Southwark office.
Cross-authority collaborationAt 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. This means that as many users as possible will be able to benefit from the outcome of the project.
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
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 communicationTo 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