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LGSS Digital Blog

Service design for local government

Dan Blundell
Technologies Manager

The challenge of definition

Over the past few years we’ve been designing and building digital services for LGSS – the local government shared service – and its multiple customers.

One thing that is immediately noticeable about working across different organisations is the contrast in language, terms and general vocabulary. How do you approach that kind of issue? What other challenges does it stir up? The answers to those questions is something we’re yet to figure out but one thing that’s come out of the work so far is a demonstration of how much of an issue definition and clarity is within the public sector.

We face a similar issue with our own digital vocabularly.

What do we mean by digital? What do we mean by digital literacy? How is service design different from business analysis? These terms aren’t commonly understood, and can they have many interpretations which makes a structured, pragmatic discussion very difficult.

We’re trying our best to define any team-specific wording when communicating to our customers. Where possible, we’ll use our customer’s way of speaking, to make sure we’re understood – but we’ll define these terms too, just in case.

Without communication and clarity, we can deliver a solution without fully defining a problem – leading to disappointment on delivery.
Dan Blundell
Without thorough communication and clarity, we can look for a solution without fully defining a problem. This can lead to conflict and disappointment on delivery.

I’ve seen tools, technology and press releases all delivered to solve a non-problem because of a lack of definition.

Similarly, engaging a wider audience in the digital agenda and understanding service design is going to be ever more challenging until we, as a sector, define both the problem and the language that we use to define it.

At LGSS Digital, we’re putting a lot of effort into defining user needs before a solution is delivered – making engagement and delivery a heck of a lot easier.

On the flip side, why on earth would anyone in their right mind jump on board with a half-baked, slightly baffling set of ‘innovative’ ideas when the words used to describe them are vague at best.

When we’re spreading the word and engaging a wider audience, our challenge is definition – clarity and consistency are key.

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