Helping City Hall assess the quality of their digital services

AnnieHeath / 25 January 2019

Our friends at the Greater London Authority (GLA) got in touch with the Croydon Digital Service over Twitter asking if we’d help them with a Service Standard assessment. Working in the open for the win!

Like a growing number of other local authorities, Croydon is signed up to the Local Digital Declaration – which means we commit to assessing the work we do against the government Digital Service Standard. The standard is a set of criteria to check you are delivering a high quality service that meets its users’ needs. For example, have you user tested your product, are you using agile methods and have you based your project plan on good data.

We will be starting to assess all new and redeveloped digital services for Croydon soon – so helping our GLA friends out with one of theirs was a great opportunity for me to practice and learn.

The idea with service assessments is to be as supportive and collaborative as possible, rather than it feeling like an exam. You don’t want colleagues to feel scared or that they are going to be interrogated. The goal is to make the product better. To do that, the team need to feel they can talk honestly and the assessors need to create an environment where the team are receptive to feedback.

Just like any agile undertaking, service assessments are an iterative process, and they should be carried out at the end of each phase of work. Teams shouldn’t necessarily expect to meet the standard criteria first time, and of course, should feel comfortable failing fast in some categories!

This particular assessment was for a tool that helps people find accessible and supported housing across London. I was really impressed both with the multidisciplinary team in general, and the business Product Owner, Rachel. They were motivated and passionate about making something helpful for their users. The lead assessor Martin took us through the process in a warm, supportive manner and we heard from User Researchers, Deliver Managers, Business Analysts and Data gurus. A lot of thought and time had gone into to trying to ensure a good user experience and it was great to hear that more User Research is planned now that they are in public beta phase.

The friendly nature of the session meant it was really beneficial in terms of being able to provide advice and guidance on some areas – particularly how they could measure the benefits of the tool. Together we were able to explore some areas where the team thought it would be difficult to get analytics and think of some new and different ways that they could solve this.

It was a fun and useful afternoon for me. I learned a lot, and am happy to report that Martin and David from GLA offered to come down to Croydon to be involved in our assessment panels when we get this process up and running too.

The Local Digital Declaration network is strong and growing!

Annie Heath is Digital Design Manager at the Croydon Digital Service. She has a keen focus on user needs being at the heart of transformational change. You can follow her on Twitter @annie3h

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