Since April 2014 DECC’s Assessment Panel has been assessing all digital service projects to make sure they are being designed with audience needs in mind and meet the government’s 26 service standards. Most of DECC’s services are provided by third parties so one of our challenges is how we develop these services with partners, and then manage the on-going lifecycle.
The panel advises and makes recommendations on the best route and/ or methods to deliver the objectives of digital projects and looks for evidence in four main areas:
- Services meet user needs. User centred design.
- Services are safe (secure data, fraud etc.). Data is maintained and accurate.
- Applications and processes are flexible and allow rapid revisions (within days)
- Service performance, customer satisfaction and costs are actively managed.
We’ve worked hard to secure representation from across DECC – corporate services, policy teams and programme owners for the panel, and GDS representatives frequently attend too. We also have trusted advisors from Legal, Portfolio Office and Finance who, although they don’t sit on the panel, have sight of the documentation before the panel sits and are able to feedback any concerns, issues or areas of best practice.
So far we have assessed and advised on over 20 projects since April 2014 and 4 projects have gone live on GOV.UK.
So what have been our main challenges? Well, making sure that we ‘catch’ all of the projects in a timely manner – not just before they are due to ‘go live’! That’s where DECC’s compliance process comes in; all projects have to go through our compliance process. Digital compliance is zero spend.
But along with challenges come opportunities, and the assessment panel and digital by default is now different. We’ve been able to spot synergies across the Department and join up policy development where audiences overlap.
We’ve also gained a better insight in to the needs of staff that are grappling with digital by default as a concept and created learning tools, case studies and guidance for them.
We continue to learn and we’re putting that learning to good use, improving the process as we move forward.
Setting up and running the Assessment Panel has been an interesting and challenging learning experience but has been worth it in helping DECC to look to a more digital future.