Weeknotes and sprint notes

Beta phase sprint notes Beta phase sprint notes are published via the Unboxed Medium publication.

Read the BoPS beta sprint notes.

Sprint notes for the beta 3 phase are also set out under each show and tell presentation.

You can also explore the full project timeline, and further details on project funding, on the Local Digital Fund project page.

Show & Tells

Show & Tells take place on the fourth Wednesday of each month. The presentation is an hour long and includes updates on the RIPA and BoPS services and time for questions from the audience. 

You can watch the presentation using this link:  https://rebrand.ly/ripa-bops-showandtell 

You can view all previous BoPS show and tell recordings from the list below:

Beta phase

Beta phase 1 (May to August 2020)
Beta phase 2 (January to April 2021)

Beta phase 3 (April 2021 - current work stream)

Going into beta phase 3, the team reviewed all the tasks that a Planning Officer needs to be able to carry out when assigned an application.

These include the abilities to:
  • Update the development description (with the applicant’s permission)
  • Add, edit, and remove documents
  •  Suggest amendments to the red line site boundary
  • Track all suggested amendments or questions that have been sent to the applicant or agent within BoPS

The team recognised that further development was required on BoPS to allow the Planning Officer to be able to make requests for amendments to the application without having to leave the system (e.g. using an internal messaging method),and in a way that was very easy for the Officer to track.

(Show and tell #1 - the positioning of different BoPS interfaces within the planning application and assessment systems)

During the second sprint, the team continued to explore how Planning Officers would be able to request changes to the development description, red line site boundary, and submitted documents. Officers carried out testing, and their feedback informed the ongoing design revisions of BoPS. The team ran a considerations workshop with partners to understand what an Officer would consider during their assessment of a planning application. Work on the BoPS user guide began, with a focus on validation.

During this third sprint, the team continued exploring how a Planning Officer could request changes, and all partners began end-to-end user testing of RIPA and MVP LDC BoPS with Officers.

In the fourth sprint, the team focussed on getting BoPS ready for private beta testing by continuing end-to-end user testing for the LDC MVP and implanting improvements to the system based on user feedback. Development continued on the BoPS user guide so that this would be available to Planning Officers as the first set of LDC applications are received from RIPA. During the show and tell, the team demonstrated use of GovPAY and Power BI and explained the role that these systems will play in supporting BoPS as it goes live.

We have now passed the midway point of the current phase and the pace of work is ramping up. During this sprint, the team worked on continuing to implement improvements to the MVP prior to launch. This included building the functionality to allow Planning Officers to view an audit of all validation change requests made to the applicant within BoPS, and ensuring that the user is able to view the total fee amount paid (in addition to the payment reference). The design for adding evidence tags to documents has been improved and the acknowledgement email, which is sent automatically to the applicant at the point that the application is assigned to a Planning Officer, is ready for live use. We have continued to carry out user testing and updating the BoPS user guide, and all partners have prepared their communication plans for ‘go live’.

In the penultimate show and tell of the current sprint, the team did a live demo of how a Planning Officer would manage validation tasks and requests, and looked at which document tags would be used for a Lawful Development Certificate application for an existing development. During this sprint, the team has also continued refining how information from RIPA is presented in BoPS, and has improved the red line boundary drawing function. 

the team presented how the results from RIPA will be presented to Planning Officers within BoPS, to assist in their assessments. A new validation requests banner allows the Planning Officer to keep track of outstanding requests (without having to manually check each application), and both RIPA and BoPS now use an Ordinance Survey basemap, allowing greater accuracy in site plans.  There is also a new feature where applicants can explain why they submitted a document, which is especially useful for existing LDC applications. 

Further improvements to the red line boundary drawing tool have been implemented, providing greater accuracy and making it easier to make and agree changes to the boundary line. Planning Officers are now pointed to any questions that the RIPA service identified  as being particularly important during the applicatoin process - for example, if the applicant has provided details which would mean the proposal is not likely to be permitted development, then this is shown clearly to the BoPS user. Meetings with the MHCLG to agree interim funding, and stronger allignment between the BoPS and RIPA projects also took place during this sprint.

During this sprint, we worked on iterating the validation process and on making improvement again to the digital site map. We have also refreshed our approach to user testing, to make sure that all partners in the BoPS project have full visibility and input on what we are testing and when. During this sprint, the first application was decided on BoPS, and we have 5 more cases received by Southwark and Lambeth councils due to also be assessed which is really exciting - the BoPS tool is officially live!

In this bumper show and tell, we present our new and improved approach to user testing, which has been introduced to increase visibility between all partners. We explain how the new assessment process will look - with officers able to review each relevant GDPO class in turn to confirm whether the development would be acceptable. We also explain a new approach to the invalidation flow, based on user testing feedback. OSL maps are now implemented across RIPA and BoPS so that the applicant and case officer are viewing the same digital site map, and we have updated the notification emails going out to applicants at each stage of the application to decision notice process for clarity. 

During this sprint, we continued work on the validation and assessment processes. A scale bar is now visible on digital site maps on both RIPA and BoPS (this was previously on featured on BoPS for the Planning Officer view). Rsearch into the application for immunity journey e.g. existing LDC applications is ongoing, to inform how the assessment process for these types of applications may look on BoPS. During this show and tell we demo these features.

In this show and tell the focus is assessment, and we set out the newly dveloped ‘assess against policy’ feature which has been well received in testing with officers. We also introduce Cucumber specs and explain how this change benefits the project. 

  • Show and tell #14

In this sprint further improvements were made to the invalidation process and prototypes created for the improved validation journey. Research into the method of assessment for immunity cases has continued.

In this four week sprint we have taken a strong focus on assessment. For existing LDC applications, an assessment process has been developed to allow officers to work through each evidence document with the capacity to add notes, capture any gaps in the development timeline, and to report this information as part of their recommendation. Officers can now request certain changes to the application, including the proposal description, post-validation and the entire validation process is undergoing an overhaul based on feedback from planning support staff at the partner councils. Officers can also now add notes to an application to keep themselves and their colleagues up to date on the status on the case. 

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  • Show and tell #8
  • Mark

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

    BoPS is a collaborative local authority project, funded by the DLUHC Local Digital Fund and led by Buckinghamshire 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
    9. Accessibility

    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:

    Register your interest HERE

    Project contact

    Kevin Buckthorpe, Buckinghamshire Council

    Project partners

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