Understand the problem and the people you serve
Delivering great digital products and services requires a deep understanding of the people you serve and the problem you’re trying to solve for them.
Having a clear idea of both will help you effectively use resources to build the foundation of a service that works for all. To do this, you must plan design research before, during and after the release of your service.
Capital funding is not yet available to perform design research, but there are service designers and content designers in government that can help with this work. Operational funding will often be required to accomplish this part of the process.
Note: Design research findings are required when applying for capital funding through the Digital Investment Office (DIO).
At this point, you’ve completed design research to understand people’s needs, you’ve identified a problem or problems with your current service delivery model and you know the outcomes you want to provide. Depending on the amount of operational funding you have at your disposal, you’ll likely need to apply for capital funding from the DIO.
Understand how to successfully navigate the digital investment process and take a step-by-step approach to secure financial support to build or scale your digital service. Explore each step of the process of funding your digital service through the digital investment process.
Create a team
Once you’ve acquired operational funding from your ministry and capital funding from the DIO, it’s time to hire, acquire or up-skill to create your team.
The B.C. Public Service is encouraged to source talent internally and support internal staff to learn new skills when possible.
- The best services are made by multi-disciplinary teams with diverse skillsets and backgrounds
- Diverse teams are innovative, flexible, capable and reflect the communities they serve
Learn more about building diverse teams and internal capacity
Consider team structure
When shaping your team, consider how that team will work together and manage their collective project work.
The Agile methodology is a process used to build services by breaking work down into smaller chunks known as iterations.
This is a lower risk approach than traditional build-it-all-at-once approach (known as waterfall) because frequent iterations expose any flaws in the original plan much faster. For example, by taking an agile approach you may find that approval timelines are holding your project back.
A cross-functional team that works in Agile is often comprised of specific team members.
- Sets the strategy and defines the features of a service or product
- Leads project planning, design, implementation and close out
- Handles the management of the agile sprint process for the scrum team
- Leads the development and delivery of scalable web applications in a continuous deployment environment
- A team can have multiple developers
- Researches, prototypes and designs to evolve the product vision
- Can specialize in many disciplines, like content, UX/UI or qualitative research
- A team can have multiple designers
Learn more about agile methods
With approval of the Exchange Lab, you can use these job profiles to build a digital team.
If you’re still in need of digital resources after sourcing internally, explore the Digital Marketplace to hire team members in less than 30 days.
Know the standards
Whether a service meets standards is a matter of judgement. There are problems you can iterate your way out of, and problems you cannot.
Before jumping into procurement or development, it’s important to first understand the basics of building secure, private, accessible and connected services that are designed with, and for people.
It may not make sense to hold up the release of a new platform because the user experience is not perfect, but before the launch of a digital service, you must meet these 4 conditions:
1. Adhere to the Digital Code of Practice
The Digital Code of Practice (DCOP) is B.C. Government’s framework for creating digital services that prioritize user needs, are designed with data-driven decision making, and ensure privacy and security for citizens.
The DCOP offers direction to public service employees and contractors on how to design, build, buy and run technology and digital services.
2. Align with accessibility standards
Government digital services should be accessible to all people, including those with disabilities. This means designing digital services with accessibility in mind, like developing websites that are compatible with screen readers and providing alternative text for images and coding.
When you meet accessibility standards, you make sure that every person has access to government services and isn’t excluded because of a disability.
3. Establish security and privacy so government and user data is protected
Government digital services often deal with sensitive personal information and data like social insurance numbers, tax records and medical information.
It’s our job to empower people and businesses with safe, trustable ways to identify themselves online and communicate confidentially with others.
Digital Credential Services have been developed to help ensure the security and privacy of personal information and online communication. Digital Credentials are digital versions of things such as permits, identities, and licenses. They can be presented, securely and confidentially, to anyone who accepts them, but only with the explicit permission of the owner.
Examples of Digital Credential services available for use include:
- BC Wallet, a new smartphone app that stores Digital Credentials
- BCeID and BC Services Card apps that allow people to identify themselves online
These services help establish the required security and privacy that people need and expect.
4. Build with contracts and technology that allows for iterative improvements after release
Digital services must be designed and able to:
- Meet the ever-changing needs of people and technology
- Identify and fix bugs
- Fix problems as they present themselves
Make a plan for the future of your service, to make sure you have the right team and digital resources to constantly learn and improve.
Design, develop, release and iterate
Once you’ve understood the problem, secured funding, hired a team and have adhered to standards, it’s time to start building.
Use of data
To protect the personal data of your users, you’ll need to identify the data the service will use, store or create. Put appropriate legal, privacy and security measures in place so that users feel confident that their personal information will be kept secure and their privacy will be respected.
When it’s time to find a hosting solution, if you’re working in a government ministry, agency or Crown corporation, you can build and deploy your application on the BCGov Private Cloud Platform as a Service (PaaS) OpenShift platform or choose a public cloud solution to meet your needs.
Common components are open source tools developed by the B.C. government that can be added to digital services including Single-Sign-On (SSO), address completion, express pay and form creation.
Software as a Service
Software as a Service (SaaS) may be an efficient way to purchase software solutions to fit your business needs. In the SaaS directory, you’ll find cloud-based software and applications that can help your team with project management, design, event creation, communications and more.
Usability testing and future iterations
The release of a new or modernized product has varied approval processes within government, but before a service is released it should be validated through usability testing to ensure business needs have been balanced against user needs.
A minimum viable product (MVP) is often the first iteration (release) of a new service. It has just enough features to be usable by people.
Future iterations should be released with small and frequent improvements based on people’s feedback and further research in a continuous loop.