LGSS Digital Blog
Service design for local government
Blue Badge – club together, pay it forward
It’s the end of a busy few months. At LGSS Digital, we’ve been working hard to release BadgeAble, our first application developed with all three of our partner organisations.
For those not in the know, the Department for Transport gave notice that they were replacing the previous Northgate Blue Badge Information Service (BBIS) with an online form and badge printing supplier. This left councils with a gap in the middle for case management.
Two years ago, we worked with Cambridgeshire County Council to develop an automated Blue Badge digital service and as a result, already had a live, user centred, service in place.
We conducted some further user research and identified ways we could support increased channel shift and easier administration for discretionary applications in the back-office.
We were able to reuse our service design, along with some additional capabilities we had developed, to form a new multi-tenanted service that we could implement for all of our partners.
Building things with customisation and flexibility also means we can also support any future partners with the same need. And crucially, we can do it in next to no time, and without charging huge fees or licence costs.
As a Head of Service I don’t often get the chance to be involved in the detail of project delivery – tending to work at a programme or strategic level and empowering my amazing team to crack on with things and generally be brilliant.
But for the blue badge application, given its span across multiple partners as well as our first multi-tenanted product, I was shipped in by our Digital Programme Delivery Manager to act as Product Owner. I have to be honest and say that I really enjoyed this role. It has helped me to appreciate my team in so many new ways, while also affirming that our agile approach and supportive culture are the right way to go.
I also thought that I would end up having to balance the priorities of competing interests from 3 different organisations, but I can honestly say that it has been an absolute pleasure to work with the different service leads from our 3 partner councils. I put this down to a collective focus on user needs and a genuine passion to get things right (not to mention an immovable timescale – which always helps sharpen the focus!)
“Having auto verification in place was a major whoop for us, not only was it easier for customers, it also saves us masses of time in the administration process.”
Kim Shaw, Blue Badge Service Owner, Cambridgeshire County Council.
“The impact on channel shift has been huge. Before BadgeAble we struggled to achieve 40% take up online… Since we went live, we’ve taken over 400 applications in 3 days, of which less than 30 were over the telephone.”
Stephen Marshall, Blue Badge Service Owner, Northamptonshire County Council.
“My team initially started using BadgeAble with some trepidation; but within a couple of days they were already experts in the system and we could instantly see that our whole process was going to be much, much faster than before.”
Caroline Annison, Blue Badge Service Lead, Milton-Keynes Council.
“The best thing that Cambridgeshire has ever done.”
“My parents in their 70s were able to complete 99% of the form themselves, they just needed a bit of help uploading their photograph. The difference to me as a carer between the old system and the new one can be measured in hours so this new system is certainly something to be proud of.”
It’s always great to make users happy. They are now getting their badge super quick, but also we’ve been able to create efficiency savings in the back office. Win/Win.
If the Win/Win wasn’t enough the other amazing thing about what we have done is that we can now reuse all of this work in creating our next multi-tenanted digital service.
Next stop: bus passes?
Joking aside, the capabilities we have developed with this digital service could easily be reused and “paid forward” into something else, especially those services that are application based, case management, or permit type fulfilment services.
We’re publishing what we’ve done with Blue Badge as part of our commitment to the local government digital declaration. Keep an eye out on the local government digital pipeline and at #fixtheplumbing on twitter.