Services

Service Design

Content Strategy

User Research

Data & Analytics

Technology Strategy

Sector

Local Authority

Client

Luton Council

Understanding what residents need

Discovery to improve service access for residents of Luton

The Challenge

Luton Council believed that the future to better delivering services to residents lay in understanding what could be achieved through better service design, aligned with user needs. They commissioned Cogworx to undertake a Discovery to best understand the size of the challenge ahead and where digital could help improve service delivery.

The Outcome

A comprehensive report detailing the outcomes of quantitative & qualitative user research, analysis of existing & potential technologies, cost analysis of potential savings through improved digital service delivery and recommended service & interaction design roadmaps.

Related

Say Hello.

Understanding the problem

Luton Council (LC) is a unitary authority and serves residents across its 19 wards that the town is divided into. The Council provides services to approx. 200,000 residents and, like all local councils, is doing this with reduced budgets and increased demand.

The LC website had had little significant development and was not answering user needs or providing business value.

Over a 13-week period, the team undertook in-depth research and information gathering. We wanted to understand the landscape by reviewing Luton Council (LC) services, existing technology and contracts, understanding data flows, the costs and the pain points.

 

Looking outside of LC, we aimed to understand Luton residents through in-depth user research, identifying the common challenges and surface the short, medium and long-term improvements needed to answer user needs.

Working with stakeholders to understand their views

We started with a set of business stakeholder workshops. Across a few different sessions, we sought to understand Luton Council as an organisation from business objectives & planning through to budget & contract management. It was important for us to understand the context in which these services were being delivered if we were to affect real change.

 

Following these, we moved to key services. Again, through workshopping, we ran interactive sessions with key service owners to understand how services are categorised internally, how this can have an affect on how they are accessed by users as well as the logistics - technologies, digital vs. offline service delivery, where 3rd parties are involved etc.

 

We created artefacts to visualise what we’d learnt including process maps, the beginnings of journey maps, data mapping and a tech landscape.

Visualising the landscape

Preparing the way for simplification and recommendations, we mapped the existing landscape to understand the complexity that sat beneath the luton.gov.uk website.

Out into the field to talk to the user base

A quick (well, not that quick) trawl through the luton.gov.uk website told us there were approx. 240 services available to residents. So we got to work understanding:

 

  • Who are the users trying to access Council services?

  • What are the most commonly accessed services?

  • What sort of transaction volumes are we looking at?

  • How many of those attempt to transact online but end up in another channel?

  • How many enquiries via phone or person could be comfortably delivered via luton.gov.uk?

  • How many people are accessing services for themselves vs. for someone else?

  • Based on user feedback, what is the appetite for accessing services digitally?

 

We used a mixed methods research strategy, applying both qualitative and quantitative techniques. The Council already had some great sources of data that could be interrogated to understand what users were doing, how often as well as some anecdotal feedback.

We supplemented this with our own targeted data capture for the length of the discovery, asking customer-facing teams to capture specific metrics to support the wider research.

 

Taking the findings from the research, we started to map these against the types of services. Using the work FutureGov had done in establishing the start of a local government Design System, we adopted the service categorisation of:

 

  • Apply

  • Book

  • Check

  • Pay

  • Register

  • Request

  • Tell

 

This would give Luton Council a good foundation to build from, and make good use of the work already undertaken by FutureGov with Essex County Council.

Listening to residents

Our research team spent time shadowing in the contact centre to hear first hand the challenges residents had. This brought the call statistics to life, adding colour to the black & white.

Surfacing how tech supported the services

Modernising the technology on which luton.gov.uk and its subsidiary sites & services sat was a core part of discovery.

 

We had to understand how it all stitched together, or didn’t, and where the opportunities were for reuse, extension, removal or replacement.

 

Through workshopping, interviews and working sessions, we created a tech landscape that demonstrated all the technology that Luton Council had commissioned and the services they supported.

 

Much like any other local authority, the council had a significant number of third-party systems and applications. We visualised these in one, easy-to-consume diagram of how these systems operated together, whether they were under Luton Council’s control or not, and whether they were public-facing.

Providing Luton Council with clear, actionable recommendations

After a fair few weeks of information gathering, research, analysis and some deep thinking, it was time to put pen to paper and articulate our clear recommendations along with evidence and rationale to support them.

 

We produced a comprehensive 127-page report detailing our approach, our findings, our recommendations and rationale to support. To support this, we produced an Executive Summary as well as a presentation format for key stakeholders to reuse.

 

We presented to each person across Luton Council who had taken part in the Discovery or supported it, demonstrating how their input had contributed to the outcomes we had collectively achieved.

 

Our report and presentation covered:

 

  • Approach and methodologies used

  • The Luton Council landscape

    • Services

    • Users

    • Demographics

    • Technical landscape

    • Volumes

  • Our findings

    • Discovery findings

    • Service design findings

    • Technical application findings

  • Recommendations

    • The role of luton.gov.uk

    • An evaluation of technologies and a recommendation based on specific criteria

    • How to achieve legislative accessibility compliance

    • Content strategy, design and management

    • Developing and empowering design and research specialists within Luton Council

    • The beginnings of a data strategy, removing silos (islands) and placing data at the heart of service delivery