Digital collective


Kat sexton

5 ways to be successful in local government

As a digital team working within a shared service, we get to collaborate with many different services and cultures. There are loads of differences, but there are also some real common themes which can crop up, especially when you’re part of a transformational delivery team and your aim is to deliver great services.

Much of what this blog post will say is common sense, but that doesn’t make it any easier when you are in the thick of it. Working in a multi-discipline organisation with savings targets, restructures and uncertainty about what the future holds, it can be difficult to get a consensus about what are the priorities are and how you choose to carry them out.

1. Start with data

Most organisations have lots of data about their services:

  • volumes
  • successful transactions
  • abandoned transactions
  • methods of contact
  • customer satisfaction and feedback
  • costs

Looking at this data will help inform each organisation about how their service is running and where the black holes are in terms of cost, resources and customer engagement.

2. Ask questions about user needs

When we start to analyse the data, we quickly find that our brains are bubbling with questions. Why is that statistic like that? Where are users getting stuck? Why are people dropping out of the form on that page?

These questions are vital to understanding how the service works and what needs to change. Here are a few more…

  • how are users engaging with the service?
  • what do users like and dislike?
  • do users understand what they are being asked to do?
  • do users complete what they have been asked to do? If not, why not?
  • how much does it cost the service per user?
  • where do the costs come from?
  • how much time are staff spending on admin?

When we start to unpick these questions, we start to get an idea of what the solution might look like.

3. A committed and passionate team

When you know what you’re doing, you’ll need the right team to make it happen!

We’ve worked with many multi-disciplinary teams and this is something that can make or break a project (oops, I said the ‘p’ word!)  The successful delivery teams all have the same ingredients:

  1. an agreed method for delivery
  2. trust
  3. regular communication
  4. a shared goal or dream
  5. cookies 

4. An empowered product owner

When designing or delivering a new service, we ask you to provide a product owner to collaborate with. It’s the product owner’s job to ask questions, provide feedback and help steer the project with the delivery manager.

The product owner has to make certain decisions on behalf of the organisation, but they can’t do this if they are not trusted. In the past, we have experienced significant delays because an organisation has agreed to empower their product owner, but then disagreed with their decisions in the final stages.

Often, management are too busy to be involved in the full process (hence the appointment of a product owner) but feel out of control when presented with something that doesn’t look like what they imagined in their heads.

If you’re a manager, remember that the outcome is based on weeks of research and user testing and that your product owner probably has more insight than you do at this point. Let go and all will be well.

5. Start simple, then improve

If you work in the public sector, you probably will have experienced some complicated and complex procedures. Trying to design a service with all-singing and all-dancing functionality, can be a big mistake. The more components something has, the more leeway there is for something to go wrong. And if one thing goes wrong, this can impact the whole process.

It is much easier to build something that works and add/improve functionality bit by bit, rather than try and do everything at once and run into complications that delay the launch date again and again.

We like to strip things back to basics. If the process is simple, users can understand it and everything moves quickly and smoothly.

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