We have started developing a new tool for pest control. We showed our web developers the list of work we need to complete, which we have written as user stories. This is a way of keeping the customer at the centre of our work when setting out requirements. An example of a user story would be:
“As a resident needing help with pests,
I need to be able to book an appointment at a time that suits me,
so I can get rid of the rat that eats all the Doritos.”
The team then divided into pairs to build different sections of work addressing these user stories. We tried to build an initial form for customers to request help with pests, to book an appointment and to be able to pay.
We encountered stumbling blocks, of course, but we were expecting that on day one of development. Some documentation wasn’t clear, and some connectivity didn’t quite work between databases. On Agile projects like ours, there is a role called scrum master who supports the product manager and development team by taking any problems away and finding solutions. Gary Duckworth is our scrum master and is doing an amazing job. I think he must be hiding some sort of time travelling ability. There is no other explanation for how problems get solved so quickly!
The combination of experienced software developers and excellent scrum-mastery has meant we also had some success. There was an upbeat air to the room and a lot of clever technical conversation going on around me.
We have been back at work for a couple of weeks and I am looking forward to testing our new council-wide updates and changes in software. We’re currently in the pilot phase. If this goes well, we’ll be able to move on to developing mobile working solutions for our staff and customers.
One of our key areas for developing new mobile working solutions is within Inspection and Enforcement. The aim is to create a single field officer role that can deal with a wide range of complaints while out in the field.
I have already shadowed Food Inspections to understand how they work. More recently, I also shadowed the pest control team (more about this in a future blog post). The whole of Inspection and Enforcement are up for modernising their service, making the work easy and fun. We had a couple of brilliant workshops identifying the different stages involved in dealing with complaints and what a mobile device and software should do as a result.
We want to test our new Inspection and Enforcement mobile working tool to see if it can deliver the requirements we need to make field officers a reality. We need to improve the payments and bookings system. We also need to develop online forms that save officers from having to write down information that later needs to be typed or scanned.
We discovered that the pest control team have all the key requirements we want to test out on our new tool. As it is much easier to build a real tool rather than make up processes, we decided to use pest control as our pilot project. After shadowing Will, one of the pest control officers, I was able to develop a prototype of what a new system might look like to share with the new mobile working platform providers.
This is a really invigorating start to the year. We are working to make sure all the pieces of the technology and security puzzle are ready. We want to hit the ground running when the software experts come to work with us in two weeks’ time. The pest control mobile working pilot will teach us how to connect to the online system that field officers would need to use. Once we know how to do this, we can apply the same methods to connect to other services.
It’s nice to have a buzz about the place, unlike the pest control wasp call-outs in summer! (groan).