“Helping people who don’t use online services today” Discussion Notes | June 2014

13 Jun 2014

5 Key Actions to design and deliver accessible Digital services

Chair: Tim McSweeney (DCLG); Speakers: Zach Johnstone & Sheila Bennett (GDS) and Francois Mounier (Camden)

Q1. How can my local authority find out what a good, inclusive digital service looks like?

Read the GDS Digital Inclusion Strategy. Zach and Sheila highlighted the excellent work GDS and doing in the digital inclusion and assisted digital space. Not only does the Digital inclusion Strategy contain the 10 actions that are being taken forward to reduce digital exclusion by 25% by 2016, it also provides a 6-point “Digital Inclusion Check-list” to describe what good, inclusive digital services look like. If you are doing these 6 things, you will be designing and delivering excellent, inclusive digital services that will be accessible to as wide a number of your customers as possible. You can also consult the GDS Service Design Manual, and the sections on digital take-up, digital inclusion and assisted digital for advice on designing and monitoring take-up of inclusive digital services.

Zach also mentioned that local authorities may wish to consider signing up to the Digital Inclusion Charter. The Charter has been set up to enable public, private and voluntary sector partners to work together in new ways to tackle digital exclusion by creating actions that can be scaled up nationally. Zach said anyone interested in signing up to The Charter could contact him directly via email: zach.johnstone@digital.cabinet-office.gov.uk.  Zach flagged that LGA are members of the delivery board, and amongst other signatories are organisations like SOCITM, so there are other channels for LAs to feed in thoughts and ideas, if they did not wish to sign up directly to the Charter.

Q2. How can my local authority implement good, accessible digital/online services?

Camden’s Digital Strategy” describes how Camden have approached implementation of accessible, inclusive digital services for their customers. Francois Mounier (Head of Business Partnering at Camden Council) described the excellent work that Camden is doing to provide digital services that meet their customers’ requirements. They have used customer insight tools to scope customers’ requirements (never design a digital service without engaging your customers) and used agile methodologies to engage their staff in designing and delivering digital services that meet their customers’ needs and save money.

Francois also flagged the need for collaboration and re-use of inclusive digital services. To support this aim, the London borough of Camden and the city of Bristol have launched the Open Systems Alliance, aiming to develop, share and re-use software solutions. Francois strongly encouraged everyone to join the conversation.

Q3. Are there any Digital Inclusion Case studies that we can learn from and implement in our local authority?

Yes. DCLG have developed a beta-version “Digital Inclusion Case Study” locator knowledgebase that currently contains 49 local authority digital inclusion case studies that have been successfully implemented in local authorities across the country. These case studies largely comply with the 6 digital inclusion check-list principles contained in the GDS digital inclusion strategy (see Q1 above). DCLG intend to release the “Digital Inclusion Case Study locator” knowledgebase during July / August 2014. You can register any examples of digital good practice in your organisation (or any queries you may have) by completing this short, 3 minute Digital Services questionnaire.

Q4. Where can I obtain advice & support on designing and implementing excellent digital services that our customers would prefer to use?

Do look at the excellent advice and support being provided by the Government Digital Services – we have already mentioned the Digital Inclusion Strategy and Service Design Manual (see Q1 above), to help you design accessible digital services. GDS would love to hear from you. Also check out and get involved in the DCLG Local Digital Campaign 2014 – the Campaign’s vision is to support delivery of excellent seamless services to users across local and central government.

Q5. How can we create a business case that explains the costs/benefits of implementing digital services within our local authority to our Chief Executive?

GDS colleagues are going to take this question away and give it further consideration. But there is a precedent on creating a template to help authorities adopt and implement cost-effective services, LGA have created a LG shared services map and evaluation tool to help local authorities understand and track the benefits of using sharing services. GDS will consider if it’s possible to set up a similar tool to evaluate the costs and benefits of implementing accessible digital services.