DCC

Back in November we announced that we’d been chosen out of 11 ‘innovation’ teams to be a finalist in the Digital Canberra Challenge.

This week the competition ended with both finalists (ourselves and another local group of innovators DigiACTive) presenting their digital proof of concept to a judging panel and the winner being announced at an awards event / trade show.

We’ll get the bad news out of the way first. We didn’t win.

But that’s okay, because there is, as it turns out, lots of good news!

Bringing Service Design to new audiences

As we mentioned in our previous post on the Challenge we were really pleased to attack a digital product competition from a service design perspective. During the challenge we found that at all levels of interaction – with collaborators, clients, users, challenge judges and politicians – we were able to describe the benefits of a service design approach and the difference it can make to achieving both user and business outcomes.

Those who know us, know we are not evangelists for design. We rely on quality outcomes and the insights gathered and success for our clients. The opportunity to even use the language of service design with the Treasurer and Deputy Chief Minister, the nation’s largest ICT research group in NICTA and the Directorate we worked with on the challenge was a real buzz.

At the very least, we now know that our friends and collaborators in the Road User Services unit, when presented with complex business challenges, have the means to think about their business as a service and think about designing that service from the outside-in. That’s pleasing.

Building a killer product team and a killer product

The challenge gave us the space to set up a dream design team. Because of the digital focus, we looked to the local and global design community to pick out people that we thought would help us build a great product – it just so happened these were people we had wanted to work with for some time!

We contacted local designer-at-large David More to see if he’d be interested in brushing off his expert interaction design techniques; James Peek, who we’ve worked with in the past, stepped up as digital lead/developer and we reached across the Tasman to Empathy in Wellington to bring a broader ‘capital-city’ eye to the project.

The outcome was fantastic from a work and result point of view. Empathy gave us a perspective around the experience of booking a licence test that we hadn’t necessarily identified here in Canberra where the system is culturally and systemically quite different. David took the research findings and insights we had developed to design an interface and multiple product and service storyboards that really translated the IP into a functional and useable product. The design up-front meant James built in a relatively short space of time a functioning proof of concept that took all of our knowledge and delivered our multi-device platform, user-focused front-facing, back-end intergratable digital solution.

Screen shot 2014-03-26 at 1.30.32 PMWe are really proud of the product and hope to commercialise it – not just with our ACT Government partners, but more broadly in the market.

More importantly though, we are really happy that we got to build and work with an expert collaborative design team.

Creating a new body of knowledge for local government

While the product was killer, one of our key aims within the necessary constraints of the competition was to ensure we left our government team members with much more than just a tech proof of concept. We treated the Challenge like any normal paid job, moving through our normal service design stages, we created a wealth of IP around the concept of online booking and payment. The insights guided the product development, but also were wrapped up in a full design specification that not only outlines the product but user typologies, design principles and other key service design outputs.

As we’d done similar research for AGIMO about online government services just a few years ago, we were really fascinated about the difference in user needs identified this time around. Some of the key insights were:

  • Email remains critical as a confirmation device and is expected as part of any digital service.
  • Eligibility and other complex concepts must be masked by the digital service.
  • Digital-first is a service, but it must remain part of a multi-channel approach for users.

Along with the insights, we were able to leave the RUS team with some guiding principles to take into their future projects as part of the full design spec:

  • The digital product and service is designed to enable users to successfully achieve THEIR outcome.
  • There must be reduced EFFORT to complete a task online.
  • The use of the digital channel should be REWARDED.
  • All common digital channels must be CONSISTENT across government.

If you’d like to see copy of the final Proof of Concept and Case Study just get in touch, we are happy to share what was a public project.