Putting a design team together

Agile service development brings people with different functional skills together in teams that flex according to need – as a Sport Wales-CDPS collaboration shows

5 July 2022

The team used user-centred design to create a grant application service suited to the needs of grass-roots sport groups © Unsplash

Working with Sport Wales

Each digital service relies on a team that comes together to understand and solve a problem. With a shared understanding, the team can begin to deliver a solution that’s been researched, designed, tested and iterated.

One such team has been working to redesign Sport Wales’s community investment (grant-making service) to increase the reach and impact of its funding. The team combines professionals from CDPS – which supports the design and delivery of digital public services in Wales – and from Sport Wales itself.

The thinking behind that partnership includes the aim of transferring skills. CDPS can help Sport Wales to increase its Agile and digital knowledge through members of the core team. In turn, that knowledge ripples more widely across the organisation.

At the start of the partnership, CDPS agreed with Sport Wales that we would work in an inclusive and transparent manner, using Agile ways of working. In line with that approach, the team would identify the problem and then design, test and iterate potential solutions.

Building a multidisciplinary team

Using Agile means building a flexible, multidisciplinary team: a group of people with different functional expertise working toward a common goal. The team can grow, shrink and otherwise adapt as needed during each of the four primary phases – discovery, alpha, beta and live.

These phases are flexible, enabling us to alter the development cycle depending on what we find in ongoing research. For example, an alpha might not go straight on to a beta phase, but instead produce questions that need further exploration in another, related alpha.

Bringing in the right skills at the right time

The core skills needed to research and redesign the Sport Wales community investment have included:

Agile service development is flexible, not always following a continuous cycle © Unsplash

Roughly half the team is from CDPS and the other half is from Sport Wales. In the discovery phase it included a product manager from CDPS. In the latest alpha phase that role is held by an SME from Sport Wales, whose transition to the role is supported by CDPS colleagues.

As an example of how we’ve adapted to changing needs, we recently increased our user research team to help get insights into how our prototype is meeting user needs.

Delivering as a team

The team that came together has the necessary skills and experience to identify and analyse user needs, engage with stakeholders and manage expectations during each phase. We’ve blogged about our progress with this service, which shows what the team we’ve put together has achieved.

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