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Keeping Users at the Forefront While Scaling Services

Keeping Users at the Forefront While Scaling Services

Building resilient and usable systems requires a balancing act between responding to the needs of technical systems and users. This session shares practices and principles that helped the GetCalFresh engineering team scale and improve their service. We'll discuss practical implementations of "Leave a Seam" (creating paths within a system for people talk to you) and daily and weekly operations rituals for keeping technical teams oriented towards meeting the needs of users and technical systems.

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Ben Sheldon

June 01, 2018
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Transcript

  1. Keeping Users at the Forefront While Scaling Services @bensheldon

  2. “Building resilient and usable systems requires a balancing act between

    responding to the needs of technical systems and users. This session shares practices and principles that helped the GetCalFresh engineering team scale and improve their service. We'll discuss practical implementations of "Leave a Seam" (creating paths within a system for people talk to you) and daily and weekly operations rituals for keeping technical teams oriented towards meeting the needs of users and technical systems.” – Session Synopsis, 2018
  3. 1. Background 2. Values & Principles 3. Rituals & Practices

    4. Revisit Principles 5. Questions “The idea behind Honest Practice methodology is to investigate the specific context in which a practice was used, not just to report the outcome – be it success or failure.” – Howie Fisher Honest Practice: How the Public Sector Can Look at Itself Outline
  4. Background

  5. About your presenter College of Public and Community Service

  6. None
  7. None
  8. None
  9. What is GetCalFresh? • A service provided by Code for

    America that acts as a digital assister, available at: https://www.getcalfresh.org (demo here) • It allows anyone to apply for CalFresh using a mobile phone, and guides them through the eligibility process using email, text, and live chat support • Like an assister, it works on top of existing systems, translating required questions to plain language, and submitting them to CalWIN or C4Yourself
  10. GetCalFresh focuses on... 1 2 3 Getting more people through

    the door Supporting clients through the eligibility process Ensuring clients don’t churn for administrative reasons* *currently offering an easier SAR-7 in three counties
  11. GetCalFresh is working who we help apply • 16,000 applications

    submitted monthly • 33,000 people helped monthly • 55% avg. approval rate across 33 counties • 32% increase of avg. online applications • 20% of all apps are submitted via GCF • 60% are applying for CalFresh for the first time
  12. GetCalFresh is people June 1, 2018 March 6, 2017 Director

    Engineer Design & Research Engineer Client Success Program & Partnerships Engineer Engineer Engineer Product Program & Partnerships Client Success Data Science Program & Partnerships
  13. Values & Principles

  14. None
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  16. Operations

  17. None
  18. The right place at the right time... • 2 different

    CalFresh application webforms • Fax Machines • Email • “Secure” Email • “Secure” Dropbox • County-specific upload websites • SFTP • Lots of humans and their own operational systems and business processes. ...which is at the county office by 5pm that business day.
  19. None
  20. “Understand Meet User Needs First and foremost, we talk to

    users and understand who they are. We’ve found that much of the time the best way to get started is not to write any code, but instead to just help people, manually. Once we have a live service, we make sure to insert a “seam” such as live chat that allows us to talk to users regularly.
  21. “Optimize for Speed of Learning Armed with a clear North

    Star and a plan to reach it, we can focus on possibly the most important part of our process — learning at the fastest rate possible. We’re big fans of the Lean Startup approach and we’re always trying to accelerate the speed at which we can get through Build-Measure-Learn loops.
  22. “Build Visibility In ...we make sure we have good visibility

    into problems users may be having with our services. Quality monitoring is key when it comes to providing a high quality service to our customers.
  23. Rituals & Practices

  24. By the numbers Ben's Start Date March 6, 2017 Presentation

    Date June 1, 2018 Calendar Days 452 Business Days Excluding Holidays 313 Number of Weeks 60 Applications Assisted 131,513 Deploys 1,044 Issues / Stories Written 1,437 Daily Standups 246 Bi-Weekly Planning Meeting 30 Bi-Weekly Team Review and Retro 30 Bi-Weekly Engineering Retro 29 Morning Rituals 183 Daily Drives 273 Incident Postmortems 10 Days Client Success Coverage 29 Impact / Complexity meetings 4 Strategic Planning Onsites 1 Team Offsites 3
  25. Actual growth Active in 9 counties Active in 33 counties

  26. Meetings

  27. Meetings Morning Rituals Daily Drive Planning Review and Retrospective Development

    Consensus Building
  28. March 6, 2017 - June 1, 2018 ➔ 1,044 production

    deploys ➔ 3.3 deploys per workday ➔ 1,437 new stories / issues Pace of development
  29. 30 Bi-Weekly Planning Meeting

  30. 183 Morning Rituals

  31. Meetings - Daily Drive Morning Rituals Daily Drive Planning Review

    and Retrospective Development Consensus Building
  32. The right place at the right time... • 2 different

    CalFresh application webforms • Fax Machines • Email • “Secure” Email • “Secure” Dropbox • County-specific upload websites • SFTP • Lots of humans and their own operational systems and business processes. ...which is at the county office by 5pm that business day.
  33. We call submittal “Driving” Automated Driving Manual Driver

  34. Common “Driving” Problems • Mailing Address Parsing • Document Formats

    (bmp, gif, multi-age tiffs) • Document Sizes (100 page leases), • Spécial Cháråcters • Webform updates • Webform degradations • Fax machine errors • “Rare” eligibility cases
  35. Actual growth Active in 9 counties Active in 33 counties

  36. March 6, 2017 June 1, 2018 273 Daily Drives April

    17, 2017
  37. 273 Daily Drives

  38. 273 Daily Drives

  39. 273 Daily Drives

  40. 273 Daily Drives

  41. Meetings - Retro and Consensus Morning Rituals Daily Drive Planning

    Review and Retrospective Development Consensus Building
  42. 30 + 29 = 59 Retros

  43. 29 Days on Client Success

  44. 10 Incident Postmortems

  45. 4 Impact / Complexity Matrices

  46. 1 Strategic Planning Onsite

  47. 3 Offsites

  48. Revisit Principles

  49. “Understand Meet User Needs ... just help people, manually... talk

    to users regularly… Examples: Daily Drive, Customer Success Shifts
  50. “Optimize for Speed of Learning ... accelerate the speed at

    which we can get through Build-Measure-Learn loops... Examples: Morning Rituals, Development ⇔ Daily Drive, Retrospectives, Postmortems
  51. “Build Visibility In ...have good visibility into problems users may

    be having with our services... Examples: Daily Drive, Morning Rituals, Consensus Building
  52. None
  53. Thank you! @bensheldon