July 2021

An update from Simon Oldnall, Horizon IT Director

As part of this month’s update, I wanted to share a story about generosity. Satish Karia from the Chatteris Post Office provided access to their branch for a member of my team to perform some testing of the Horizon Help functionality.

Whilst there, Satish kindly mentioned another issue within the Horizon counter of which we were previously not aware of. This issue has been immediately placed on a "to fix" list and is now going through the process of being impact assessed. Thanks to Satish for pointing this out, these vital insights help us make sure that we are developing a platform that is fit for all Postmasters.

If you have any issues please do let us know, either on Branch Hub or by calling our IT Service Desk on 0330 123 0778.

What’s happened in the last month?

As I mentioned last month, we have been working on creating our Postmaster IT Working Group and have good news to share. In just four weeks we’ve now had over 110 Postmaster’s volunteer and signed up. A massive thank you for all your enthusiasm and interest – we can’t do this without Postmasters!

Last week we had a series of drop in ‘welcome’ sessions. Thanks to all who made the time to join and for all your contributions around Horizon, Branch Hub and what you want to see from your future IT. We’re now working to prioritise the issues you’ve raised.   

Last week, we had our first Working Group session, in this session we discussed Horizon Help, Branch Hub usability and discussed printer user cases to help inform the future IT team on your requirements. I’ll give you more updates as we hold more of these sessions over the next few weeks.

Our Architecture Team

Dan Addy, Head of Horizon Architecture, together with his team, has been working to drive key changes to the Horizon platform. Here is an update from Dan about what he has been working on this last month:

We are standing up teams who will be working through the backlog of Horizon improvements and designing solutions to resolve them. So far, we have identified over 450 Horizon improvements by working with Postmasters to understand their pain-points, which is now being worked on by my team. The image below highlights the approach from gaining feedback, to prioritising the issues and fixing them.

How are we fixing these issues?

The approach is to take each business capability, such as lottery, document and understand the user and data interactions surrounding that capability, then overlay the pain points and transaction correction data to identify any areas that need remediation.

Alongside this approach we are also conducting a wider review of the Horizon user experience, considering how we can improve the user interface, navigation, button layout and other general usability considerations. The image below showcases the different types of changes that we’ll be testing, from those that are fast to implement like the removal of old functionality to those that take longer like the simplification of baskets. This piece of work will make the system easier to use whilst modernising the application look and feel.

We will be working closely with our newly formed Postmaster IT Working Group to design solutions that improve the Postmaster user experience, reduce the likelihood of users making any errors as well as the number of transaction corrections that are required. This will be iterative as we work our way through the systems capabilities and will translate to a steady flow of improvements for you and your branch teams.

Changes from Thursday 1 July 2021 for items going to EU destinations

As you will have seen, from 1 July 2021, there have been changes that impact items being sold into the EU from outside the EU including GB. These changes have meant that you now need to take some additional steps when processing transactions for marketplace sellers sending goods to the EU. This process requires that you capture the Marketplace name in Horizon and make sure ‘IOSS’ and the marketplace name are written on the outside of the item (e.g. IOSS ebay). This currently includes marketplaces that deliver most of this volume (i.e. ebay, etsy and notonthehighstreet). Unfortunately, due to Amazon having multiple IOSS numbers this solution does not work for them.

I appreciate that the current process is far from ideal, however it’s the only way we can make sure we capture the relevant information needed to enable marketplace sellers to continue to buy their postage at the Post Office without their buyers being charged fees twice.

My team, along with Mails teams, are working on a more sustainable change, including how we can make this all clearer on the Horizon screens. We will share more information in Branch Focus as soon as we can. 

As always, if you have any IT issues please do continue to report them to us, either on Branch Hub or calling our IT Service Desk on 0330 123 0778.