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Redesigning Digital Services: How user research is helping

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Buyers, Digital Marketplace, Digital Services framework, Suppliers
Feedback from buyers and suppliers gathered during a user research session

It’s our aim to make the Digital Services framework fit the user need.

The Digital Marketplace user research team visit buyers and suppliers in their offices, speaks to them on the phone and invites many of them to the Government Digital Service (GDS) offices to take part in fortnightly research. During the sessions, we:

  1. talk about buyer and supplier experiences with Digital Marketplace
  2. look at process maps that show the flow through the commissioning procedure
  3. look at paper prototypes that show our ideas for the interface
  4. look at interactive digital mock-ups of what we think the framework’s user interface might look like

We’ve combined this with the feedback our colleagues in the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) Digital Services Managed Service team have gathered from more than 200 projects that have used Digital Services 1.

Warren Smith, Digital Marketplace’s Assistant Director and Head of Strategy describes how our feedback is helping us shape the next Digital Services framework in his recent post ‘Redesigning Digital Services’.

Here are three themes that have we’ve identified through our research sessions:

Outcomes, not roles

Whether suppliers are being asked to provide a team or a specialist, the majority want to know what the projected outcome of a specific project is.

A supplier said:

Even if the request from a department is for a role, I’d still expect to see ‘This is the job we want you to work on’, otherwise it’s just recruitment.

In other words, it’s important for suppliers to understand the scope and goal of the project that their team or specialist is being asked to work on.

Value for everyone

Adding value works both ways. Suppliers want to provide the best guidance they can to buyers, but at the same time, suppliers also want to contribute to work that increases their own proposition.

One supplier told us:

We take a vote on each piece of work we see before we decide whether or not to bid for it.

We’ve found that some suppliers look at each piece of work to decide whether it’ll be a story they’d be proud to tell when they’ve completed it.

Let the details evolve

Like in user research where trying things out, gathering feedback and iterating is key, the buying and supplying process is about having conversations early and often. This way, both parties can iterate quickly to find the best solutions.

We know that buying is a team sport and a supplier’s expertise is useful for buyers to help them understand their own requirements.

One buyer told us that keeping communication channels open means a better result for both parties.

They said:

It ensures that the conversation moves away from ‘What do you want’, to ‘What’s the problem you’re trying to address?

Have your say

We’d particularly like to speak to more:

    1. suppliers who provide individual specialists to work on existing agile teams
    2. buyers who have used, or considered using, Digital Services Framework to fill a specialist role in their team

If you’d like to speak to us about digital services in the public sector, please sign up to participate in our research. As always we encourage you to comment below.

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