# Our Beta starts today

I started writing this an hour before our first Beta sprint planning session, and I'm quite expecting some of it to be out of date by the time it's finished!

That's been the story as we've ramped up to Beta. There's so much to consider, and new ideas are coming thick and fast. It's exhilarating, but also slightly exhausting. My gym has just reopened so that's a welcome break from the screen.

# What we've been doing

We've been building up to today's kick off since late January. Regular readers will know we have a new lead council - Cumbria (opens new window) - and we're delighted to be here. We're also very grateful to Croydon (opens new window) for help in our move.

First off, we started by meeting new colleagues. By meeting I mean seeing them on a video call. It's been over a year since any of the partner councills met in person, and it'd be great if we could get together before the end of the Beta. Fingers crossed.

Next, we needed to find a new supplier. We chose the Digital Outcomes and Services procurement framework (opens new window) which is a first for me and Cumbria. A lot has been written about the pros and cons of DOS, and I need to catch up on my reading. The response was great though - 25 councils, 4 shortlisted and 1 winner: Agile Collective (opens new window). There were many great submissions and it was tough to pick between them. Yes, it sounds like a cliche, but it's also true. Thank you to everyone who took part. If we haven't fed back on your submission, we will very soon.

Over the last fortnight we've been working out a plan for the first few sprints - more below. There's a lot in this Beta, and it's not just feature development.

Have a look at the 'problems to be solved' section on our tender page (opens new window): increase the number of councils using LocalGov Drupal; review how they get onboard; build new features and improve a few existing ones; get better at evaluating the impact of our work; come up with a plan for the future.

There's a lot to say about all of these, and we'll follow up in future posts. I promise to be better at blogging. Like many I struggle with a blank sheet of paper, but will try harder.

# What we're doing next

There's a few big ticket items in Sprint 1 (opens new window):

  • The biggest is (finally) switching to Drupal 9. We've been planning for it since the start of Alpha, so hopefully it won't be too onerous. Alongside this we're going to finalise how new releases are tagged

  • we're thinking about how to rationalise the LocalGov Drupal default and skeleton front end templates. Lots of good work went into them during Alpha (thanks Chris, Dave, Tom and Croydon), but they could be better still. Ideally councils with little or no front end knowledge should be able to make basic changes and be up and running. While councils with more expertise should be able to tailor them or go their own way as needed

  • I'm going to start drafting a few new pages for this site to better explain what LocalGov Drupal is all about. There's lots of good material here for developers, but not much for anyone else. That will be fixed very soon

Also our new colleagues will start to grapple with some of the challenges listed above.

# What we're thinking about

Aside from the challenges mentioned already, we're thinking about how to scale. LocalGov Drupal is 10 councils now, and we've been OK at making decisions as a group. But how does that work when we're 20, 30 or even 50 councils?

Our product manager for Discovery, Ert (opens new window), had some thoughts on this (opens new window) which are going to be very useful.

We're also very interested in Sociocracy (opens new window) which is how Agile Collective, our Beta supplier, operates. Maybe there are tried and tested principles we can adopt? Very exciting. Stay tuned for details.

Written by Will Callaghan on