June 2021

An update from Simon Oldnall, Horizon IT Director

I wanted to start by sharing an amazing story of Saidulla, Postmaster for Cambridge Heath Post Office. On hearing that one of my team was self-isolating with his family on return to the UK, Saidulla travelled 2 hours to London to deliver home cooked food. This is a true example of why I am proud every day to work for Post Office and committed to making a difference to our Postmaster community.

Thanks to Denis from Meliden Post Office who last week, took the time to walk through an issue with my team. Denis was extremely helpful and even provided a video walk through of the issue to make it easier for us to understand. Thanks to Sara Bow, Denis’ Area Manager who visited the branch and facilitated a Teams call. I have asked our team to work on this issue, amongst others, as they work through our prioritised improvements list.

Thanks also goes to Chris Ball for introducing me to one of our newest branches in Blackpool as well as some of our longer serving branches in the area.

I’m committed to working with Postmasters through our workshops and Adopt an Area visits.

Join our IT Working Group

We are recruiting volunteers to join our IT Working Group to help shape improvements to Horizon and the future of IT. This is a great opportunity to get involved, share your views and feedback. Joining this group, you will be at the forefront of IT change, we’ll reach out to you on an ongoing basis and invite smaller groups to attend video calls every few months. This will be a chance for us to co-create solutions with you, discuss improvements, hear your feedback on prototypes and participate in pilots and testing.  

Thank you to all those who have already signed up, it’s going to be a great forum and judging by a couple of comments received so far, I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks so.

If you’re interested and want to get involved in the future of branch IT please complete this quick survey or email us at postmasterit@postoffice.co.uk.

Progress since last month

Last month, I shared our vision for the long-term Horizon improvement programme. Since then we have been standing up a programme team across 10 core streams of work. Each of these streams (for example testing, data, investigations, or Horizon user experience) will help us to strengthen the reliability of Horizon and improve your day-to-day experience. We will be making improvements to the look and feel of the counter terminal but also put in place the right processes, tools, and support to enable Horizon to work as it is intended. As I keep saying Postmaster trust is at the heart of this programme and we want to work openly and collaboratively with you.

One of the key outcomes from this past month has been the progress made on closing a number of historic defects. Often called ‘Known Errors’, these are issues that have been addressed with temporary fixes or workarounds. While this does help restore Horizon to functionality it is important to make sure that we address the root-cause of these issues. Over the past few weeks our team have reviewed, analysed, and further tested each of the errors to give us confidence that they won’t happen again. We are now going to talk to Postmasters to review and sign off that the error has been dealt with.

Alongside this we have also put in place a better process to manage issues, so that when any issues do arise, we have a way of proactively spotting these and resolving them. We’ll let you know where there is an issue and quickly resolve these, so they do not impact your customers.

Another key outcome from this month has been on our efforts to refreshed process for how we make changes to reference data. Reference data is how the majority of Horizon user functionality is configured and created, for example it is what you see on menus, the names of buttons, price lists as well as product availability. We often review and update reference data so that we can enable you to sell products and services in branch, however, when these changes are made without proper controls and testing, the impact on Postmasters can be significant.

We have now improved the process for making changes to Horizon in this way and improvements include new approval forums, undertaking detailed impact assessments and making sure that adequate time is given to testing and Postmaster review from our Branch User Forum.

Finally, I’d just like to remind you, that you can sign up to join our Postmaster IT working group through this quick survey or email postmasterit@postoffice.co.uk.