Digital Landscape Review – engaging with service owners
9 September 2021
In our previous blog post, we discussed how we’ve begun to collate a service database, engage with digital decision makers, and analyse existing data on services.
In this post, we’ll be talking about our engagement with service owners. We’ll discuss how we’re collecting data and what we’ve learnt so far about the individual services and the challenges those who run them face.
We’ll then outline our next steps, looking at how we’re planning for the alpha phase.
The first step in our process was to learn what digital decision makers wanted to know about services to assess how they should prioritise areas for improvement.
Next, we integrated this knowledge into two surveys; one generalist and one technology specific, to collect the data digital decision makers wanted to know. In the discovery phase, we are using the surveys to ‘deep-dive’ into a sample of 15 services which are broadly representative of the landscape as a whole.
So far, we’ve met with approximately 10 service owners and completed these surveys with them. Alongside collecting specific data on metrics such as number of users and completion rate, we’ve also been asking service owners about the challenges they face and what their key aims would be into the future. We’re beginning to draw together common challenges and aims to inform our hypotheses, the assumptions we need to test, for our alpha phase.
With continuous improvement in mind, we’ve been iterating our surveys based on feedback from service owners. We’ve learnt that the surveys need to be able to be completed in stages, have clear examples to make them relevant to a variety of different service types, and must be able to be shared within teams.
Over the final couple of weeks of the discovery phase, we’ll be completing our 15 ‘deep-dives.’ This will make sure we both have a small-scale snapshot of the state of digital public services currently on offer in Wales, and that we will have received feedback on our data collection process from a range of service owners with different perspectives.
Understanding service owner experiences
We’ve had some fantastically interesting conversations with service owners in our deep dives, spanning a wide range of experiences. We’ve spoken to owners of developing, newly established and long running services, encompassing central government, local authority, health, arm’s length bodies, and third sector.
Even though we’ve spoken to owners of a wide range of services, through our discussions of challenges and opportunities, we’ve heard some topics come up time and time again.
Some of the common challenges we have heard about include:
- struggling to hire and retain individuals with software development skills, with significant loss to the private sector as a result of salary differences
- limited internal knowledge and skills surrounding cyber security, and the subsequent need to externally hire to cover this area
- overcoming organisational uncertainty about elements of, or whole services, moving online as a result of the perceived increase in workload for individuals involved
The opportunities service owners have mentioned align with the themes detailed by the Digital Service Standards for Wales and the OECD standards for digital government, including:
- what developing digital components within services, or creating end-to-end digital service pathways, has the potential to improve both user and staff experience
- that developing shared libraries of components (in particular digital forms and individual authentication tools/ login portals) or shared systems across public services would greatly benefit service owners
- in the health space especially, patients being able to access their data will be an essential requirement of future service design
Collecting data on services
So far, we’ve collected data on around two thirds of our deep-dive services. These services reflect the variation within the digital public space in Wales, covering a range of sectors, users, contracting types, and levels of digitisation.
Patterns are already emerging within the data surrounding what service owners can, and interestingly cannot, provide us with.
We’ve learnt that service owners have easy access to data on service design, and user feedback on the service, however data on volumetrics and cost is harder to access. Often, this is due to the service operating on shared systems or contracts and these values being hard to disaggregate.
We’ve also learnt that services are harder to define in the health space, with the same initial user need often resulting in hundreds of different journeys. We’re currently reflecting on how we might need to adjust our approach to make sure we can effectively collect data on healthcare services.
Over the next 3-4 weeks, we will be completing the discovery phase of the project and moving into the alpha. This work to complete the transition has two key components:
- Developing a set of discovery outputs which we will share in our end of discovery show and tell
- Creating a roadmap to how we’re going to be ready to start the alpha phase of the work in mid-September
We’ll have a busy few weeks working to complete these two goals, but we’re excited to share with you what we’ve learnt and be ready to hit the ground running into alpha!
If you feel like you have something to share with us from your experiences, we’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below or tweet us @cdps_cymru
The finding of the complex user journey in health is welcome. The traditional service design by referral is quite unsuited to transactional design, so this finding should help you be able to develop flexible service design that can adapt to the high variety of user needs.
I wold be interested to know how you are going to find out what their total needs are? I say this because I have also completed a prototype in such a service and would like to compare learning.
I wanted to add that you have the ability to avoid the mistakes that are being made here in the UK!