Resources and reading for designing services

Public sector digital trends 2023 collection | Article

Faster development

2023 will see increasing intolerance of large-scale and laborious developments. Even if organisations have moved from ‘waterfall’ to ‘agile’ methods, it still takes time to design, configure, customise, test, launch, and then resolve teething problems with new systems. In a world that has seen the possibilities of fast development in response to the pandemic, these approaches are no longer acceptable.

In particular, tools such as Low-Code development and apps are increasingly common, with expected growth in 2023. These methods are also useful for improving take-up of new citizen-facing systems because they are designed with and for users, rather than just for producer and supplier efficiency.

“.. the speed of public sector change during Covid really does make “Agile” sound incredibly old-fashioned and slow. The mission is to come up with something new and faster.”

Tony Ellis, Service Director, ICT, Buckinghamshire County Council, England

Larger organisations in the public sector are also using DevOps methods to improve systems development and release processes and reduce risks during implementation, bringing together development and operational specialists in a single team.

Our research has also revealed that an increasing number of local councils are developing their own shareable solutions and applications, rather than depending on suppliers alone, following the ambitions set in 2018 in the Local Digital Declaration.

“Internal tools for best communication and collaboration are rapidly changing how organisations work. ‘Citizen Developer’ provides a challenge and an opportunity for IT departments.”

Andrew Boxhall, Technology Strategist, Microsoft

In 2023, public sector ‘micro development’ centres will grow. Whilst they may be based on recognised global platforms such as Azure, AWS and Google, they reflect a move away from big, packaged software.

Whatever methodology for development is used by public service organisations and whatever tools are deployed, a common theme will be iteration between the overall system design and functionally, optimised processes, bringing together top-down and bottom-up approaches (see Figure 1 below).

Figure 1: Top-down and bottom-up design approaches

“The vast majority of forms, processes, and portals to enable citizens to self-serve can be developed and deployed using Low-Code tools. It is only overly complex legacy applications that require hand coding for interfaces. The key driver in self-service digital transformation lies in ease of use, intuitive navigation, and the ability to track ‘where’s my service request’.”

Paul Tomlinson, Managing Director, IEG4

Case studies

LocalGov Drupal – shared platform

LocalGov Drupal the PUBG platform created by councils for councils, has developed a shared pool, built and maintained by community of developers and designers, and digital leaders from local councils.

The London, Organisation of Technology and Innovation (LOTI) is helping Newham Council work together to bring the best of digital and data innovation to improve public services and outcomes for their residents.

Madrid – intelligent transport

The Community of Madrid prioritizes intelligent public transport systems in its mobility strategy (comunidad.madrid)

The Community of Madrid has announced more than 50 intelligent transport projects covering travel payment systems, journey planning, support for vulnerable travellers, energy efficiency, inclusivity, and sustainable transport methods, as part of wider ‘smart cities’ developments. A launch in 2022 by the mayor, announced the programme led by public/private partnership: ‘Empresa Municipal de Transportes de Madrid’

“The City Council of Madrid will allocate a historic investment of over €1 billion from 2021 to 2025 for the technological revolution of the public company.

– José Luis Martínez-Almeida, Mayor of Madrid, Spain

Dorset Council – integrated digital services

Digital Dorset (dorsetcouncil.gov.uk)

Dorset Council increasingly is seen as a digital leader in the UK, with the majority of its forms automated, integrated and online, the appointment of senior data leads, and a focus on citizen, service integration, and a ‘digital modern mindset’, not just joined-up technology systems:

“In 2023 we are continuing to focus on people, particularly our customer transformation and our workforce developing digital mindset and skills, as much as tech innovation.”

– Lisa Trickey, Head of Digital Strategy and Design, Dorset Council, England