The government digital strategy called on the big 7 transactional departments to pick at least 3 of their services to digitally transform from end to end as ‘exemplars’.
As I described earlier, at the Ministry of Justice we chose four services from across the justice system: prison visits booking; fee payment; civil claims and the Office of the Public Guardian.
They are some of our highest volume services: prisoner visits booking alone has 4.6 million transactions a year. They are also transactions that are very important to our users: registering a lasting power of attorney, which legally entitles other people to make decisions on your behalf, is a significant step in a person’s life.
For these reasons, it is important that we improve these services by redesigning them digitally, around the needs of the user. We will carefully measure their success: do they get high uptake? How good is user satisfaction? Do they save money?
However, the importance of the exemplars lies not just in their outcomes, but also in the way they are built and run. This is our chance to establish new ways of working within the department, including agile working based on iterating and testing with real users.
The wider value of these projects will be realized by breaking down existing barriers (process, legislative and other) so that their digital transformation can be replicated across all services delivered by the Ministry of Justice.
Last week, we met with all the leads on the exemplar services, to share lessons learned so far and look at what happens next.
Mike Beaven from GDS began the meeting by discussing the 23 exemplar services being redesigned across government. GDS is proposing to lead a ‘discovery’ phase on each exemplar before they move into delivery, which will focus on identifying user needs and understanding business drivers. We’ll write more on this later.
The story from our colleagues in OPG – the most advanced exemplar – was particularly inspiring. Alan Eccles, the Public Guardian, embraces the wider significance of his work, saying “we need to ensure that we maximise the benefits of moving to a digital model and so we are focusing as much on cultural change and business transformation as on the move to digital”.
We can already see successes from the OPG programme making it easier for our other exemplars, for example in establishing new ways of procuring SMEs.
We would be keen to hear from other departments or organisations trying to go digital, and how exemplars worked for them.