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Digital Service Quarterly Update: a recap

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Event logo for Digital Service Quarterly Update event

Today we hosted the Digital Service Quarterly Update. This was the first of our events for colleagues across Parliament to find out more about the work of PDS.

What we shared

The theme was 'start with user needs'. The event showed how Parliament is using digital, data and technology to meet the needs of different users.

We invited people to learn how PDS is working to transform the relationship between citizens and Parliament. We also showed how we’re improving services for members and staff in Westminster and throughout the UK, and what's coming next.

We wanted to demonstrate how PDS works collaboratively with colleagues of both Houses - something that's vital to making sure we really do understand our users and their needs.

How we shared, and who shared it

Over the course of the morning there were demos and speeches on stage. These were repeated in the afternoon for people who wished to attend later in the day. We welcomed speakers from across Parliament, including Patrick Vollmer, Director of Library Services, who spoke about how the Lords Library and PDS have been working together.

For those who couldn't attend

We know that not everyone was able to make the event so – in the spirit of being transparent, open and inclusive - here are some photos and highlights to give you a taste of the day.

Jamie Tetlow shares just one of the user needs identified during research

Jamie Tetlow, Head of Development, starting with user needs when building a new website for Parliament:

We use analytics from our website as one way to understand current user needs. We use these quantitative metrics, alongside other metrics, to help prioritise our work and devise a roadmap.

Patrick Vollmer on stage shows the audience a catalogue drawer from the Lords Library
Patrick Vollmer shows the audience a catalogue drawer from the Lords Library

Patrick Vollmer, after presenting a drawer from the Lords Library catalogue as an example of a paper 'database':

Over the years we've moved from ledgers to bound volumes to card catalogues to microfiche to computers. Until 2016 enquiries were logged in a case tracking system best described as flakey. In just 3 sprints PDS was able to develop a new open source case tracking system based on the needs of the Library's staff and users.

Tori Baker presents a slide showing user wants vs user needs
Tori Baker speaking about user wants vs user needs

Tori Baker, Director of Digital Transformation, on putting user needs first:

What a user wants is often very different to what a user needs. We have to move away from thinking about answers first, and start by thinking about what users actually need. This is a critical cultural change for Parliament.

Two people discussing Demoing Chronos, a tool for time management
Demoing Chronos, a tool for time management

This is just one of the many stands where colleagues could try out the latest tools. Attendees also had a sneak preview of the prototype pages for the new website. The pages will be simpler and clearer, and will be public soon. We’ll continue to iterate and improve them based on user testing and feedback and you'll be able to read more about this work here on the blog soon.

Two people in discussion about development based on user needs
Discussing why it's so important to start with user needs

Our thanks to all of our presenters - both on stage and at the stands – and to those who attended and made the first Digital Service Quarterly Update a great success.

Were you there? Let us know what you enjoyed and what we could do better next time in the comments below.

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1 comment

  1. Comment by Dan Cook posted on

    Well done to all involved - great to see so many people there