It takes a great deal of hard work behind the scenes to ensure that the delivery of any redesigned digital service remains on track. Many of the teams on our 25 exemplar projects are working to deadlines that are closely linked to changes in policy and this is certainly the case with Rural Support (Common Agricultural Policy). This exemplar will help farmers submit accurate information about how they use their land to claim Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments.
The new online application and payment service will used be to implement the EU CAP in England. The team’s fundamental redesign of the whole process has to be ready for users to begin using from this October in preparation for the applications window in February 2015.
Jo Broomfield is Programme Director for the CAP Delivery Programme and put together the team bringing the current mix of 40 schemes and services into one, replacing the whole technology stack, to create a better experience for users. Here Jo explains a little of the background to the progress that’s being made.
“There are two forces at work behind the Programme’s aims; the shift to make government services digital by default and needing to address the problems of the past, when in some cases government IT projects have failed to deliver. The problems with the last round of CAP Reform in 2005 illustrate what can go wrong.
To deliver that, the CAP Delivery Programme team - which is 393 strong - is working to meet the design principles set out for new digital services.
When we put the team together, we recruited existing Civil Servants and looked for small to medium-sized private sector companies with the right skills to help. The team’s focus is recognising that the user (be that a farmer, agent or caseworker) should drive the development of that service. The team is constantly seeking user feedback so that as each part of the service is developed and put online, they can make sure it’s right. You can read more about the importance of this feedback - which our customer insight team gets from speaking to individuals at dedicated testing sessions and at trade shows - here.
Involving farmers and land managers at every step
In the past users weren’t always put at the heart of service development. Now, we involve farmers and land managers at every step as part of our agile approach, asking them what they need. Our product owners Chris Harvey, Oliver Slocombe, Claire White and Karl Harman are making decisions quickly, with experts from policy and Defra’s delivery bodies available to provide the evidence with which those decisions are made. It’s all about removing obstacles and having the skills and flexibility within the team to refine the service as it is developed, so that in the end, the user gets what they need.”
Looking towards that 2015 deadline and the release of a public beta in late October, the exemplar’s service manager, Marc Heasman, explains what’s coming up next:
“Right now we are working on an eligibility calculator which will help customers with understanding if they meet the complex criteria set by European regulations; it's technically challenging to pull off. We know from early testing this will be very welcome to our service users.”
You can keep up-to-date with the latest news on CAP reform on their blog.