Shifting from a ‘project’ to a ‘product’ mindset
In our previous blog, we shared an update on the development journey for our ‘Track My Request’ solution to give easy access to status updates on requests to Adult Social Care. Now that we’re in the Beta phase, we’re starting to build and embed the solution into day-to-day working, which brings key questions around how we embed sustainability from the outset.
In this blog, we’re sharing some of our thoughts on principles for embedding sustainability.
Moving from ‘project’ to ‘product’
Planning for sustainability involves shifting from a ‘project’ to a ‘product’ mindset. Creating a digital solution isn’t something that ends once we reach the end of a project Gantt chart, and the launch of the solution is by no means the end of the development process. Our aim is to create a live product that will be actively maintained, tested and iterated over time so that it continues to deliver value for users.
Working across a partnership of three local authorities (and with potential to scale beyond these three in future), we needed to agree where ownership would sit for ongoing maintenance and development. This includes a number of functions, such as:
- Bug fixes, spanning everything from changing wording due to updated User Research findings, to addressing unexpected problems with the solution
- Security updates, which need to be tested and rolled out in a timely manner to prevent security issues
- New features: over time, we may want to add more services or features to the solution. These will need a process to develop, test and deploy such changes
To enable these functions, which are critical for long-term impact, we need the right resource and skillsets to extend beyond the initial development phase, as well as clear ownership of the future product vision and roadmap.
Identifying key principles for sustainability
To help with the decision, we collaborated on pulling together a list of priorities for taking this decision, and came up with a set of 9 key principles for this work:
- Value for money
- User-centred design that continues to be tested and iterated
- Alignment to digital service standards
- Not being tied into single vendor dependency, ensuring flexible approach
- Accessibility and alignment to patterns
- Alignment with roadmap for additional use cases
- Alignment to the Local Authority digital strategy
- Enables equitable access to digitisation
- Set up quickly to build on momentum
While these were generated with our ’Track My Request’ solution in mind, the principles are transferable to other products and solutions, and the question of how to sustainably maintain and develop a ‘live’ product is a universal one. We’re therefore interested in how others have approached taking similar decisions, and whether these principles align.
We’d love to hear from you if you’ve been thinking about the principles for embedding sustainability – please do get in touch if you’d like to share thoughts or reflections.
Rosanna Hardwick (firstname.lastname@example.org)