Thinking

Getting the most out of your Service Design when delivering in Government

The Government is the UK’s largest and oldest service provider.

The Government is the UK’s largest and oldest service provider. It impacts all of us in different ways: from getting a driving licence or divorce, to adopting a child or losing it in court. In few sectors does getting a service right matter as much as there.

In Government, Service Design is defined as changing outcomes for users. Hence it is not enough to design a good service, but it needs to be implementable and in order to change outcomes for users for the better and make it stick . This matters more than ever before as an increasing number of  services are becoming digital. We have the opportunity to significantly change outcomes for the users of such services, at scale. If we don’t, we leave those opportunities unrealised.

Service Design matters more in Government 

In Government Digital Service (GDS), a Service Design is mainly used to create a single view of user outcomes within a customer journey, while taking into account what slows it down or would make it better. It connects all the complex and interrelated pieces required to help put the puzzle together, highlighting where value flows through the interconnections.

This is specifically valuable as designing and implementing a service effectively faces many challenges; in particular, it needs to:

  • be compliant and in line with policy
  • adhere to GDS and other specific / relevant standards
  • use common components to make it scalable
  • take into account other services
  • fit into the enterprise architecture
  • minimise risk to highly sensitive outcomes
  • be able to evolve and be implemented in an agile way

The Service Design balances those above constraints. It effectively becomes the north star of your service, serving as the interpretation layer between desired Government outcomes and their technical delivery - keeping them aligned. If Service Design is not used in this way, the risk of not delivering the desired outcomes increases significantly; this ultimately results in  negative impacts on user outcomes.

Using Service Design effectively in delivery

The key to getting the most out of your Service Design is to keep it up to date with user feedback and to [re-prioritise] how and when you deliver individual outcomes. It is crucial that everything that is delivered can be traced back to the original Service Design.

We found that the best way to maintain this traceability is to connect user outcomes, epics, user stories, technical requirements, processes and the Service Design via an outcome based product roadmap. Once mapped out, this roadmap enables us to trace the smallest detail in delivery right back to the highest level strategic objective, and therefore enable effective (re)prioritisation so that we can maximise value for users. 

Doing this well is not easy, but it is more than worth it - especially when you can make new behaviours stick.

Where it will leave you

Ultimately, all of this should leave you with a single and aligned view of everything that needs to be done, with the value attached to it. 

Combining the ‘what’ of Service Design with the ‘when’ of the outcome based product roadmap enables you to build the required ‘how’ in an agile way. This approach is highly applicable in most environments, increasing in value the more complex the environment is.

The general population cannot deny that the offer of improved services in Government makes all of our lives easier and better, promoting a positive social wellbeing for everyone. Great Service Design changes people’s experiences, and consequently their outcomes for the better. At the same time it is saving the Government, and ultimately the taxpayer significant amounts of money, that can instead be used for investments into the future - so that we can effectively improve the services that matter the most.