We’ve recently completed discovery for all 25 exemplars and over the last 10 months have travelled over 50,000 miles to run workshops with departments based all over the country.
Discovery is the first phase of delivering a digital service and for GDS it was about working with departments to work out what a digital service might look like and agree a shared understanding of who the users of the service are, then working out the delivery options.
Most of the 25 exemplars proceeded as planned at initial discovery workshops, however some changed course during this scoping phase, here are two examples of this:
HMRC have four exemplar projects: PAYE for employees, digital self-assessment, business tax dashboard, agent online self-service. During discovery the team soon identified lots of common technologies and user experiences across the four projects. As a result, it was decided to build the four exemplars in a consistent way and on a shared platform.
Home Office Visit visa applications
So what did we learn?
Collaboration and collocation works: the agile manifesto promotes collaboration and working software over process and documentation and we learnt how beneficial this can be when working with departments, and that it should include everyone involved - front line civil servants, policy makers, suppliers, development teams and users.
Start small: a simple working prototype during discovery, to explain what a digital service is about and how it could work proves to be very powerful in winning hearts and minds - from ministers to staff to users.
Keep on delivering: constant refresh and iteration during delivery means that what you’re doing or building evolves to meet the changing needs of all users.
As well as completing discovery many services are now into alpha and beta and being tested and used by the public already. The next thing we’ll see is another wave of public betas, many of which will change and improve the way in which citizens can interact with government.