Alpha Phase Achievements & Lessons Learnt
Introduction and purpose
For the period June 2020 to March 2021 CDPS is operating in its Alpha phase, testing the findings from Discovery and kicking off delivery across a number of areas to improve public service delivery in Wales.
This paper sets out the key achievements of CDPS from June 2020 – January 2021.
Deploying an Expert Squad
Our expert squad has provided us with the skills and capability to lead and demonstrate Agile methodologies and user-centred best practice in the design and transformation of service delivery.
Key progress in this area of work has been:
- working in collaboration with 3 Local Authorities who had not worked together before
- gaining the trust of the staff and senior teams and together identifying a common problem in the area of access to adult social care,
- conduct user-research, rapidly design prototypes and test these ideas with the users
- quickly progressing the work into Beta phase to further test, refine and deliver change
- senior managers and staff in all three local authorities want to adopt this new agile, user-centred way of working and have all committed to this approach on future transformation projects.
Key learning points:
- The local authorities involved have all started to think how they can put their residents at the centre of their services. They have gained confidence from the experience and all have subsequently commissioned further squads without direct support from the Centre. They have been inspired to continue their digital journey.
- management teams have realised they need to examine their organisational design and future workforce planning and will require support to do so
- recognition of the need to continue to provide support and help identify and deliver appropriate skills training, support the adoption of the common service standards, make connections and build Communities of Practice that can allow the teams to develop their own support networks.
Building on the success of our first expert squad
The success of the demonstrator expert squad supporting user-centred, digital transformation of an aspect of adult social care has led to CDPS being commissioned by other Welsh public sector programmes to help deliver a Squad approach to help understand the user needs and the problem that really needs to be addresses.
Current work includes:
- leading an expert squad, funded by the Digital Democracy programme, to look at the challenges and the user needs that the 22 Local Authorities need to address to implement the principles of the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Bill.
- leading an expert squad, funded by the National Procurement Service programme, to conduct a discovery into eProcurement needs to evolve to provide an improved buyer and supplier experience.
- supporting the Local Government Transformation Fund projects to work towards the digital service standards and providing other delivery support
Key learning points:
- We don’t have a clear understanding of what digital services are offered across the public sector, who they serve and how they are measured. An in-depth, cross-public sector baselining exercise is needed.
- There is a high demand for our services and our help.
A focus on skills and capability
“Digital” and the skills and techniques, are a new way of working for many public sector staff and senior leaders. Whilst there are pockets of experienced and highly skilled staff leading the digital transformation of services in some areas of the Welsh public sector, the general lack of digital skills and capability was identified as a key barrier to the widespread transformation.
To start addressing this we have:
- worked in collaboration with a Welsh-based training provider, We Are ServiceWorks, to develop a 90-minute ‘Introduction to digital transformation’ awareness session for senior leaders’ which we trialled in the 3 local authorities. These awareness sessions help them to understand the concept of user-centred service design, agile methodologies and a new vocabulary being used.
- to date the sessions have been delivered to 128 staff (84 senior leaders and 44 elected officials), all giving very positive feedback on the course.
- expanded this training offer to all local authorities with a plan to have delivered the session to them and other public sector organisations including health teams and several ALBs by end of March.
- conducted a discovery project with a partner, GnosTec, to gain a deeper understanding of the skills and capability needs across sectors. We are working with Education as a sector to build out detailed delivery plans to align to the Digital Strategy for Wales. Working with senior leaders and officers to explore how to capitalise on existing successes like Hwb and the Digital Competency Framework to enable teachers to become more confident and exploit digital tools and ways of working.
- worked in collaboration with the Hwb team in Education, the CDO for Local Government and two local authorities see Hwb Platform could support the training needs of local government staff. We worked in collaboration with the Hwb team in Education, the CDO for Local Government and two local authorities to explore how the Hwb Platform could potentially support the training needs of local government staff and members.
Key learning points:
- The training undertaken so far has seen an uplift in confidence that has led to leaders better understanding the need for digital and building good digital services with the user at their centre. It has led to those Local Authorities involved supporting and championing the work of the Centre and exploring the recruitment of officers with digital skills and user research and design capabilities.
- Building digital skills and capability needs situational context e.g. the needs of a social workers are different to teacher or a GP. The processes, tools, technology and risk factors require different approaches.
Working in the open
Working in the open has been our starting point for how we communicate as CDPS. We want to share as much as we can, provide transparency and give people the opportunity to get involved with our work to improve public services across Wales. Since October we have:
- launched our blog with over 25 posts covering areas such as learning from our expert squads, launching our knowledge sharing series and updating on our progress and plans
- launched a website where anyone interested in delivering better public services in Wales can find information, updates and guidance and join communities.
- presented the opportunities and our emerging approach to digital transformation at digital events and conferences across Wales, the UK and internationally.
- been invited to join senior strategic Boards to help influence and provide direction and insight on the public sector’s ambition and the opportunity this brings.
Key learning points:
- we know we need to make it easier for people to get updates. We’ll be exploring launching a newsletter, a collaborative space for communities of practice, booking learning and development opportunities and introducing a comments feature to our blog.
- we need a better understanding of our audiences to ensure the right balance of two-way communications and feedback
- Welsh language support has been needed to work effectively
- clarity of requirements is needed to avoid delays when working to Welsh Government GEL standards
Setting common standards and sharing knowledge
Lack of common service standards and lack of understanding of what others were doing in this space across Wales and wider, were two of the challenges facing the Welsh public sector identified during the discovery phase. In this phase we have:
- published a draft set of common digital service standards that had been developed based on conversations with many Welsh public sector organisations.
- The ten digital service standards for Wales maintain the core requirement to understand the user and their needs, and develop these to ensure that public services in Wales support the principles and goals of the Wellbeing of Future generations and promote the Welsh language.
- engaged with many public sector staff across all sectors in Wales to gain a better understanding of the needs of staff and the support that they require to deliver better user-centred services.
- launched the first Community of Practice focusing on the design of digital services in the Welsh language. The community has brought together staff from arm’s length bodies, UK Government, Welsh Government and private sector all of which share a common interest to deliver public services that support the Welsh language.
- launched a knowledge sharing webinar series which bring together expert speakers to share ideas and tips and thinking and encourages discussion/debate.
Key learning points:
- each of the ten service standards needs to be supported with examples of best practice and a manual guiding staff on how to work towards adopting and following these standards in their own organisation.
- There is appetite for communities and collaboration across sectors and organisations that needs to be fostered but requires effort to make commonplace.
- There is a lack of expertise within Wales on how to build good digital services in line with standards and thought needs to be given to what levers are available to grow the capabilities. The pace of change and the sustainability of skills will depend on options taken in areas as diverse as procurement, recruitment and pay and reward frameworks.
Recruiting an Advisory Panel
We established an expert Advisory Panel of 14 people who bring a vast experience of leading service transformation across public, private and third sector across Wales, the UK and internationally. The panel provides support, advice and critical challenge.
To help build capability and support the growth of the next generation of digital leaders in Wales, we also formed an Apprentice Panel of emerging Welsh digital leaders. Our Apprentice Panel members are each paired up with one of our Advisory Panel Members who act as coach and mentor.
CDPS has secured Welsh Government funding for the next 12 months but this is just the start of an ambitious journey to support the design and delivery of better public services that meet the needs and expectations of the user. We are currently planning for 21/22, building the team, governance and success measures that will allow us to continue to deliver at pace.