|Service provider||Department for Work & Pensions (DWP)|
The service met the Standard because:
The service team has recognised the scale of the end to end challenge in handling fraud within DWP but have focused on delivering immediate value to the citizen, and the organisation, by focusing on the public facing service in the first instance.
The team is consistent and committed and has a Service Manager who owns the end to end journey. They plan to bring this service for its Live assessment only when the backend service has been through its own alpha and beta phases in order to present the whole end to end service.
User research plays an integral part of the sprint cycle, and the team, with all members not only observing research sessions but actively involved in the analysis process. The team has started with delivering the most valuable user journeys and are using what they learn to incrementally add detail to the remainder.
The environment in which they are operating from both a technology and governance point of view empowers the service team to act with autonomy and flexibility.
About the service
Service Manager: Gary Wainwright
The service allows citizens to report benefit fraud online in a way that provides structured data to DWP. At this point the assessment is concerned only with capturing the report, not processing it.
Detail of the assessment
Lead Assessor: Ben Welby
The team demonstrated a thorough understanding of the high level user needs that have shaped the design of their current offering and were able to articulate the complex range of emotions and motivations underlying them.
The panel were pleased to learn that user research plays an integral part of the sprint cycle, with team members not only observing research sessions but actively involved in the analysis process.
The team were also able to show how their research insight has improved the service including simplifying the language for the end users as well as balancing the needs of the Referral teams.
The team have made great strides in identifying and testing their service with users who have low digital skills and have explored the opportunities for reaching out to their users beyond the typical recruitment agency approach.
The panel were encouraged to hear that despite constraints around video sharing, the team have gone to great lengths to share their research outputs beyond their immediate team, increasing stakeholder engagement and buy in for the wider programme of transformation.
The panel were pleased to know that the team have been engaging with the Sheffield Accessibility team and have conducted internal code reviews, automated tool testing and assistive technology testing to ensure that their service is accessible.
The panel was impressed with the team’s attitude towards the incumbent service they’re replacing. That service is over ten years old and based on an internal Social Security form rather than user needs and is supported through a long term contract with a supplier. There has been no question of simply replicating the existing service and have successfully moved the focus away from government needs and onto user needs.
The panel was pleased to see that the Service Manager is responsible for both the citizen and professional views of the service. It was impressive to hear how the team had persuaded internal governance that the initial focus should be on adding immediate value to the citizen by removing the burden of data sorting and cleansing. The panel was pleased to hear that the next phase of transforming this service will be on the back office.
The team has been able to grow as the scope and nature of the service has expanded. Importantly it has had continuity in team members through alpha and into the private beta.
Although the governance structures are not especially lightweight the service team is clearly empowered and able to work very effectively with their stakeholders. It was encouraging to hear that this board is more of a help than a hindrance and open to early engagement around big decisions and responsive to the escalation of risks. The panel was also pleased to hear that board members attend sprint reviews and are involved with the team.
The team has focused on building a public facing service, but haven’t yet tackled the difficult issue of the legacy backend systems. In it’s current state, submissions from the beta service have to be re-keyed by staff into the back-office system once received. This mimics the pre-existing process, however the data is presented in an easier format for staff to re-key.
The panel were pleased to hear that the wider programme is looking at the replacement of the backend system which will allow the online service to be more closely integrated - removing the need to re-key submissions. We felt that the team had taken the right approach to delivering something that initially added some value, while also looking at the wholesale replacement of the backend process.
The beta service relies on sending submissions via an encrypted email to DWP. It’s recognised that it is not possible to guarantee delivery of the emails. The panel were pleased that the service team showed a good understanding of this risk involved and that the project’s SRO had accepted the risk.
The team have the technical capability to incrementally ramp-up the number of users who access the beta service. This will allow them to monitor the service for potential issues as the number of users increase.
The team have used an effective design process throughout. The provided good examples of iterating across a broad spectrum of ideas before settling on the most effective approach. Particularly regarding the approach taken to asking the questions to the user, both the ordering and content had been extensively scrutinised to achieve the best outcome for the user.
Although there were a few minor areas that could be improved (the panel will outline some of these in a separate document) the service follows GOV.UK style and design patterns closely and effectively. The service has been designed to be simple and straight forward, enough so that most users are succeeding first time.
As the team builds out the remaining benefits sections we hope they continue this rigorous testing and improving to the questions flow so that the sections developed down the line are as effective as those shown in the assessment.
During private beta the service team have been using a feedback survey accessible through the start page and as they move through their beta we would expect to see this extended to be present on each page. The survey is augmenting their user research and giving further insights into the expectations of their users. Although much of the demand goes against DWP policy the data they’re collecting is ensuring they can make a strong argument about what to prioritise.
The team are making good use of their analytics to understand how each release affects the user experience and monitoring how the journey can improve. In addition to the standard Key Performance Indicators the team are focusing on the length of time it takes for a user to complete their submissions and the impact and role of mobile devices.
The service is supported by a business case forecasting a £45m Net Present Value based on improved outcomes for the DWP in being able to trace fraud. As a result the service team is more concerned with the quality of the data captured and the trace rates that result and are already reporting time savings in handling fraud reports. In future, as the back office transformation takes place, the team will track the processing costs and the amount of fraud that is detected and prevented, or prosecuted.
To pass the next assessment the service team must:
Provide evidence on how they have ensured that their service does not exclude people with disabilities, this will include those with cognitive, hearing/deaf, vision, motor and mental health impairments.
Continue to understand the needs of those who will need help to use the service especially those less confident and socially isolated
Continue the approach set out in the assessment of returning for a Live assessment when the internal work to improve the back office handling of referrals is complete
The service team should also:
continue to develop a deep understanding of users with low digital and literacy skills and test the service with them.
Implement the recommendations made in the supporting design review.
Include the link to their feedback form throughout the service (rather than just on the start page) and consider how they plan to support users throughout the service.
Look to incrementally increase the number of users who have access to the beta service over time, rather than re-directing all users in one go.