Weekly Braindump #52

The End

Welcome to the last Braindump in the series.

The braindump started as a mechanism for offloading all the useful (and sometimes useless) information floating around my head at the end of every week. Over time it also inadvertently became my own weekly barometer to judge how work was progressing and a way of observing the ebb and flow of my mental reserves.

At some point I’m going to do a bit of a reflective exercise on the braindump to capture any learning. Keep an eye out for that if you’re interested.

Quick thanks to all those who offered encouragement during the last 52 weeks of doing this. Your kind words were fuel for the days that it was really hard going to put fingers to keyboard.

I’ve been doing…

Our tenant app + website are due an upgrade. I’ve been given a ‘Business Requirements Document’ to fill in to specify the various configuration settings and customisations. Having not seen the new stuff in operation as yet it was a bit of a struggle to fully understand the implication of some of the configuration options.

Why not ‘Show the thing!’?.. I thought to myself.

So, I asked if we could get a demo login so that I could more easily articulate to various stakeholders what the configuration options actually meant in practice. Unfortunately, there was no demo system to login to(!!!). So as backstop I’ve asked for a set of screenshots following the user journey for key things like viewing rent, logging a repair etc. I also did some wireframes using wireframe.cc to mock up some of the areas where there are a few different ways we could lay things out.

What else?

To do or not to do!? Sometimes inaction is the best action. Interesting situation where a service improvement is being suggested, but it’s not yet clear if the improvement will result in displacing the friction somewhere else in the organisation. This could be a good opportunity to use the double diamond for problem definition.

What else?

Business continuity documents. I’ve been perusing ours in an effort to bring them up to date.

First thought.. is a word document the best format? If not Word.. then what?Perhaps good ‘ol HTML for ease of access and hyperlinking to various sections?

Second thought.. given they’re going to be read in high pressure situations, they really need to be clear, concise and self explanatory. I think it’d be an interesting exercise to give the document to anybody in the organisation to see if they can fathom how to use it.

Third thought, is it worth trying to be specific about what to do in various scenarios. It seems like the more specific you get, the faster it’ll go out of date. I’ve seen some examples that plan around loss of staff, loss of facilities, loss of systems etc. Better to define overarching methods than super specific actions? I think we’ll iron this out during our next practice run to see where the balance needs to be.

I’m also wondering if there’s a way to re-write them so that any private & confidential information (like phone numbers / security codes / passwords) can be kept separate so that the main documents can be easily shared with anyone who might need to read them. Sort of like a pop-up disaster recovery unit in a box. Most importantly, all this stuff needs to be on the Internet somewhere memorable ready to go.

What else?

I fortuitously landed a ticket to the CHC Annual Conference next Friday! I’m pretty happy about this as Stuart McFadden from Monzo (awesome banking startup turning the financial sector on it’s head) is doing a session. Those lovely people from Perago are there too (of DVLA digital transformation fame). Should provide some excellent brain food.

What else?

HACT reached out to let me know that they’re looking for organisations to sign up to a new housing data standard. In principle this is a really great idea. Lack of standardisation causes LOADS of headaches both in terms of integrating different systems and in actually trying to put data to good use.

Any standard is only going to work if the sector adopts it and then puts pressure on system vendors to use it. In an ideal world, one or more vendors would embrace data standards with open arms in the interests of providing a friction free experience for customers. My experience however has been that they’ll often default to protectionism in favour of their income streams (prove me wrong Mr Vendor!).

Also, any potential data standard must be open to use.. and contribute to. Much of the technology used to power the Internet is based on open principles. It’s hard to see how they would’ve been as widely adopted as a if there were barriers in place in terms of who and what could use them.

I’ve been reading…

I’ve been listening to…

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