British Columbia – A Model for Digital Government Service Design

British Columbia offers a comprehensive blueprint for the Service Design practices of Canadian Digital Government.

The Government of Canada Digital Standards provides the high level guidelines for Canadian Digital Government.

“Our goal is to provide public services to Canadians which are simple to use and trustworthy. The Government of Canada’s Digital Standards form the foundation of the government’s shift to becoming more agile, open, and user-focused. They will guide teams in designing digital services in a way that best serves Canadians.”

  • Design with users
  • Iterate and improve frequently
  • Work in the open by default
  • Use open standards and solutions
  • Address security and privacy risks
  • Build in accessibility from the start
  • Empower staff to deliver better services
  • Be good data stewards
  • Design ethical services
  • Collaborate widely

Published to a Github repository British Columbia has defined their Principles of Digital Government, intended to guide the work of individual public servants and vendor partners as the Province of British Columbia continues to evolve into a Digital Government.

Digital Service Design

Central to this ambition is the role of Service Design.

The BC Service Design team located in the Government Digital Experience Division is changing how citizens access government services by bringing innovation and a human-centred approach to areas such as health care, transportation, education, policy and finance.

The Service Design Playbook takes a holistic approach to designing service experiences by working directly with citizens, developing prototypes, testing, analyzing and implementing results, and offers a complete methodology for a Service Design project.

The BC Methodology and Project Approach

  1. When, why and how to do Service Design (page 12).
    1. Early, before drafting a formal business case.
    2. What criteria should prompt a Service Design process.
    3. Who should be involved, and how this relates to the transformation office.
  2. Alignment Phase (page 19).
    1. Project Basics, Preparation and Logistics. Form department partnerships.
    2. Conduct a Privacy Impact Assessment.
    3. Funding, Procurement and Approvals. Clarify budgets, in-kind contributions, sources of funding and approvals. Ensure procurement staff have enough lead time to create a responsive procurement process without undue pressure.
    4. Setting up the Teams. Form core team, working groups and steering committee. Clarify roles and responsibilities.
    5. Change Management. Establish the communications routines required to manage change.
    6. Conduct a Business Foundations Workshop – Stakeholder Mapping: Identify stakeholders such as frontline staff, public sector partners and other areas of government, industry associations and individual types of clients.
  3. Discovery Phase (page 26).
    1. Conduct extensive user/service research through interviews, surveys, site visits, observation, internal discovery and co-design workshops, populating:
    2. A Business Model Canvas. One page model of key business drivers for a service.
    3. Personas. Profiles of key stakeholders, with a focus on stakeholder goals, motivations, and
      scenarios or situations that bring them into the service.
    4. A Journey Map and Value Stream Mapping. A journey map shows the overall experience of a person engaging in a service. It illustrates the sequence of events and shows specific interactions in specific channels through Swim Lanes.
    5. Empathy Mapping. Empathy Maps are a supplementary tool that can work with personas and journey mapping to build empathy for clients and other stakeholders.
    6. Define Metrics. It is important to understand what data is available and what data is important to meaningful metrics for the service experience.
  4. Opportunity Phase (page 54).
    1. The Opportunity Phase explores future options for the service environment based on the insights the core team gained during discovery work.
    2. Research Briefing – Surface opportunities already identified in earlier discovery work.
    3. Presentation of Current Service Model or Map. Review the discovery work to build empathy and frame (or reframe) the problems, challenges, and broad opportunities based on insights from the analysis.
    4. Opportunity Generation and Capture. Capture new opportunities through solo brainstorming paired with group workshops.
    5. Opportunity Selection and Prioritization. Select and prioritize the most promising opportunities.
    6. Initial Blueprint Workshop and Future Service Model or Map Development. Begin service blueprinting to identify the implementation needs and implications.
  5. Prototype Phase (page 64).
    1. The Prototype Phase is about trying new ideas with real people before fully implementing those ideas. The biggest role prototyping plays for the BCPS is risk mitigation.
    2. Prototyping will trigger new or improved insights about better opportunities because seeing something in action helps gain insight into how it can work even better.
    3. Choose a Prototyping Method/Medium such as: î. Paper (Sketch, Storyboard, Comic). iî Screen (PowerPoint, Comic Life, Axure, Excel, HTML, Floorplan software).
    4. Prototyping Workshops – Build buy-in and momentum by including people in early stages of the prototyping effort. This is a prime opportunity to co-design with internal or external stakeholders. i. Create prototype of service touchpoints based on identified opportunities. iî. 10/3/1 (Generating many solutions; refining down to just one to test).
    5. Prototype testing. Answer key questions such as what sort of behaviours does the prototype need to support? What kinds of interactions should it include? What other services provide similar functionality in other ministries, jurisdictions, or industry?
    6. Demonstrate a proof of concept so that it makes sense and the overall service fits client needs. Task-based usability testing scenarios to get a detailed view of how specific service activities work. Pilot how a service would work over the course of an actual case or file but using the prototype to deliver the service. Perform a design review with experts or staff to collect their structured feedback.
  6. Roadmap Phase (page 76).
    1. The Roadmap phase finalizes the deliverables and shows the prioritized approach for realizing opportunities. The roadmap shows the organizational activities and capabilities, and aligns
      them by when the organization is able to implement them.
    2. Create streams or swim lanes of the types of effort needed, such as: Client Interface, Operations and Processes, Policy and Legislation, Organizational Staffing and Structure, Technical Systems.
    3. Organize the clusters in the related swim lanes based on: Overall timeframe of the project (use years as the Roadmap timeline—Year One, Year Two, Year Three; paired with more relative timing—Now, Soon, Later, Someday.) Dependencies (what things need to come before other things). Connections to other ministry or government projects and capabilities. High-level estimates of resources, time, talent or budget needed. The capacity of the organization.
  7. Implement Phase (page 80).
    1. The Implementation phase is about setting a client’s project up for success through a continuous improvement framework that creates an improved experience for citizens and stakeholders.
    2. An agile approach, used in product development, helps with responding to unpredictability through incremental, iterative work, and empirical feedback.
    3. Implement Deliverables: Before a service is released to the general public, take stock of the entire process and ask the following questions: 1. Does the service meet the user needs highlighted through Discovery? 2. Has it been rigorously tested, with users both internal and external? 3. Is it safe and secure? 4. Can it be iterated on over time, as new insights are gained from analytics tracking and continued user feedback?

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