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LGSS Digital Blog

Service design for local government

Cheryl Doran
Head of Digital

Agility in the digital age

If you haven’t had chance to complete our Digital Native or Digital Dinosaur quiz – please use this link. 

As part of National Customer Services Week, we’ve been focusing on customer needs. Actually, we focus on customer needs all the time. It’s what we do… but today I’m going to tell you how agility, the theme for day two comes into that.

As a digital service, we create solutions that help customers get to where they need to be. We deliver these solutions in an agile way. But what does that actually mean?

Agile delivery

Put simply, being agile is about moving quickly and easily. In the workplace, this means adapting to changes in your environment… This could mean small stuff (learning from a customer complaint), medium sized stuff (getting a new computer system), or really big stuff (a county council and 7 districts becoming 2 unitary councils).

If you respond to change in an open and positive way, problems become opportunities, and things get better quickly. Conversely – and I’ve unfortunately seen this happen many times – if you refuse to act or respond to change, things get undeniably worse.

In the early 2000s, responding to needs in an agile way, became a manifesto and then a methodology. A group of thought leaders were frustrated by the amount of time it took for a business need to become a reality (approx 3 years) by which time, demand had changed and the end solution was often out of date or simply irrelevant.

Agile with a capital ‘A’ is a project management methodology that aims to get a service to its audience, pronto. End users can then give valid feedback, and the service can be adapted again and again, becoming more purposeful each time.

At LGSS Digital, we use a bunch of tools and techniques to help people be collaborative, transform chaos into order, and deliver value quickly. If you’re interested in finding out more, find out how we work on our team blog or take a look at our playbook – the place where we define who we are and share our tools and practices.

What about digital?

Digital is often a catalyst for change because of the sheer pace of innovation – it really is forcing the agenda and pushing us to adapt harder and faster.

But digital is not just about websites, applications or online self service. Digital is part of our daily lives, whether we like it or not.  
For our services to adapt to the current market, we need to learn new skills, tools and techniques for communication.  Our interactions with companies outside of work, frame what we should expect from our own services, and what we should be providing for our customers. It’s not an easy task and the pace of change and innovation has been so quick, getting caught napping can be devastating. 

 

Let’s take the often used example of Blockbuster Video – a well-known chain with branches in every town and city. The original core business was video rental, which changed to include DVD and computer game sales.

But Blockbuster didn’t predict the impact of the internet. Fundamentally Blockbuster were not agile enough to change their operating model and as a result they crashed and burned, while streaming services like Netflix and Amazon stole the market.

The same applies to LGSS as an organisation and to each one of us as an individual. If we don’t open our eyes and see the huge opportunities brought about by digital technology, we put ourselves in the same place as Blockbuster, i.e. the proverbial dinosaur. No one wants that, right?

 

 

“If we don’t open our eyes, we put ourselves in the same place as Blockbuster, i.e. the proverbial dinosaur.”

Cheryl Doran

 

 

 

Don’t be the dinosaur – some tips

If you’re still avidly using/proposing technologies that worked for you 5-10 years ago, stop and ask yourself why. Is this technology still relevant to what you need? Or are there changes you could make to improve your service?

Remember that a better service doesn’t necessarily mean more expenditure. Quite often, it means less.

Think about tools and techniques and get inspired by other exemplar organisations that are working collaboratively and making a huge difference. These guys at the Government Digital Service are pretty inspirational – have a look at their blog, why not even follow them @gdsteam.

Give yourself pat on the back if you’ve been able to adapt to:

  • having a laptop
  • working remotely
  • using Skype for meetings

But don’t stop at an agile location… what about being agile in what you do and how your service works?

Get it right

The key to getting it right is designing services with the customer in mind and understanding the value in making data available to other services whilst respecting privacy. If this includes a digital solution, then this should be so amazing that people will prefer to use it.

If services are easy to use, adoption rates will be high, savings will be realised and everyone will go home happy.

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