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Changing how we design and deliver services

Post-its on a wall

In the Digital Service, we’ve spent the past four years making change happen. This includes introducing new digital services and tools, refreshing much of the underpinning technology, and changing how we work, our capability, and our culture.

This has been both exciting and challenging. In making these changes, we realised that we need to re-think some aspects of how we operate so that we can deliver the best possible service for Parliament.

Too much complexity

In the past, we’ve layered complex new services on top of our existing delivery model. One that was more focused on technology than people. Doing this meant more complexity and difficulty for our users, who were finding it increasingly difficult to do the things they need to do, and for teams who were trying to deliver the services. This was frustrating for us because our mission is to deliver excellent services for a modern Parliament.

About six months ago, we decided to take stock and reconsider how we design and deliver services. In that time, we’ve been looking at how other digital organisations work and how they design services. We’ve started to look more closely at ourselves and try out some new ways of working.

Embarking on a new journey

We’re still exploring, but we’ve quickly come to understand that a successful shift in approach can’t be done too quickly, or can impose it on our teams. To get to where we want to be will probably involve changes to many aspects of how we work and our culture.

It’s a change that needs to be led by our highly skilled people and involves our colleagues across Parliament. We need to start small, try things out, and make sure we’re consistently evaluating and learning from what we do. This way we can build up evidence of what works for us and our users.

During this first phase, we’ve set up a small team who are leading the work to explore areas of change. Their initial focus has been on:

  • identifying our current users’ needs and showing where they experience pain and gain
  • understanding what services we deliver now and how they map to wider parliamentary services
  • seeing how teams and processes work behind the scenes to deliver our current services, and exposing where this current model is most difficult for us and those who are using our services
  • understanding the ‘service owner’ and ‘service manager’ roles, what service teams look like, and how they work in other organisations
  • considering the capability, culture, and values we need to be truly user, customer, and service-focused

We’re also taking the opportunity to trial a service design approach in an area that we know many of our teams are already working hard to improve - how users get hardware and software. We’re working for eight weeks (four sprints) with a cross-cutting team and the help of a service designer to review what and how we deliver this, look at what we can improve, and make at least one tangible improvement.

Benefiting from different perspectives

We’ve already learnt a great deal from the people we’ve met and talked to from other organisations (public, non-profit, and private) and are finding those relationships and discussions inspiring. They’re helping us to avoid some of the pitfalls others have experienced, and are helping us to clearly see the things that will help us to change and move forward.

We really want to widen this network further so if you can help us to consider how to deliver Parliament’s digital services better, please do get in touch with Rebecca Elton or Sian Hodges.  

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