“I have only made this letter longer because I have not had the time to make it shorter.” (Letter 16, 1657)”
― Blaise Pascal, The Provincial Letters.

This week’s blog you may be pleased to hear is short and sweet 😊

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Our fortnightly end of sprint workshop on the 29th January 2021, started with a 30 minute mid-way catch up with our first round of planning officers who were testing the tool. They were using dummy scenarios that the project team had pulled together.

Their early feedback was useful and interesting. This included a discussion around when making language ‘Plain English’ the importance of considering who the audience we were writing for were. An example was given in respect of the planning term Change of Use. Using the statement ‘convert a barn’ is a common and understandable term for most people. “Convert a barn” for non-planning people may also be more accessible a term than Change of Use. However, those familiar with planning may get confused by the term ‘convert’ because they know it in planning terms as Change of Use.

We agreed we would arrange a further catch up with the Round 1 testers to get a final summary of their views and any other issues in the coming weeks.

For Round 2 we need fresh eyes and so one of our next sprint tasks will be to recruit new planning officers for our next batch of testing.

We also discussed at some point it will be really useful to get the views from those who are not necessary planners but ‘love this stuff’. Also — agents who are interested in PlanTech and willing to help us with the dummy scenario testing — and using the Knowledge Hub as a point of contact too.

Finally — we need to start widening the call across the council — perhaps including council call centre staff who deal with planning enquiries to do some testing if they’re willing to sign up to volunteer and help us.

We also discussed the users who had already registered an interest.

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We are still in the testing dummy applications at this stage but hope that we can start moving to live applications in early March.

Meantime, we need to touchbase with those who have already registered an interest to let them know what the current situation is, where we are and keep them updated. Mostly — we need to let them know we’re still here and haven’t forgotten them….

We also had a look at the metrics work which team members from the Lambeth and Buckinghamshire partners had been working on over that sprint.

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They took the rest of the team through the work they done workshopping together with the use of a miro board.

They explained how they’d worked backwards to filter what metrics would really be useful for our project. See more of that on the miro board.

The next sprint ahead will be finding Round 2 planning officers for our testing, and really spending some solid time on the intermediate report we are currently writing for our Continuous Funding interview with MHCLG on the 8th February. Alongside that report will be drawing up a presentation for our interview and deciding who will present what section. We’re keen to keep it collaborative and demonstrate in action just how much we are all engaged and committed to the project!

Next Show and Tell — Friday 12th February at 10:45 am.

We’ve made it to Beta. An MHCLG funded project, led by Lambeth with five partners — Buckinghamshire, Camden, Lewisham, Northumberland and Southwark

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