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Digital Strategy for Wales: Mission 1 – Digital Services

Post by Glyn Jones, Chief Digital Officer, Welsh Government

As the Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport said in his introductory blog earlier this week, digital is more about people and a mind-set than about technology. It is about modernising services within organisations and delivering services across organisational boundaries, based around user needs.

Too often, public services are created or modernised without taking the needs of the people who need to access them into account, or considering what a good service looks like. They are often complex, hard to find, confusing, constrained by organisational boundaries, and offer unclear outcomes.

Done well, digital transformation can really improve things for service users; making things quick, easy, simple and intuitive.

In Wales, we want to raise the bar and make sure that our public services are well designed, secure and based on user needs.

That is why our first Mission is to:

Deliver and modernise services to a common set of standards so that they are simple, secure and convenient.

So, what will we do?  

This year we’ve already set up a new Centre for Digital Public Services to begin to support public services in helping to address problems, set standards and provide advice.

I will work with the Centre, and the new Chief Digital Officer for local government (and, in the future, health), to ensure we are working collaboratively across the public sector in Wales deliver against this ambition.

We will work with the people who use public services in Wales and with business to design services that are seamless and work for the people who use them. This means they need to be based on user need, insight and data, and should be designed bilingually from the outset. We must also put accessibility and security at the forefront of our service design.

Below, we illustrate some of the priority actions we will take.

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Digital service standards

To achieve this, we will develop all public services to a common set of digital service standards. Digital Service Standards are a set of guidelines that anyone can follow to make sure that the needs of the user are always at the centre of the way services are designed and delivered.

We must put the needs of service users at the heart of the way we deliver public services. Agreeing, adopting, promoting and sustaining a set of standards for digital public services is key, and will improve the experiences of people in Wales. Checking in regularly against an agreed set of standards can provide focus, pace and challenge.

The Centre for Digital Public Services has already designed and published the first iteration of a set of common digital service standards for Wales. Hear more from Sally Meecham, interim Chief Executive, here.

The standards are now in public Beta and are being tested on a number of services that are currently in development. They include a focus on wellbeing, Welsh language, user need, ethics, security and technology: the things that we believe will provide better outcomes for the people of Wales.

What will be different?

All of this only makes a difference if the experience of users improves. Our aim is to deliver this set of outcomes:

  • Services that can be online will be available online. Other channels will be available where they are needed.
  • People will choose to use digital services, increasing self-service interactions between citizens and the government.
  • Online services are accessible and can be completed successfully, first time, unaided.
  • People will be able to access high quality services in Welsh and English because they are designed bilingually from the outset.
  • Data will be used effectively to develop insight about public services, improve decision-making and efficiency, and to identify opportunities to do things differently.
  • Websites and services will be built to be open and accessible by third parties to provide seamless services.
  • Services will have a consistent user experience and design.

A plan for delivery

As described in the earlier blog, to achieve these outcomes we need a clear plan for delivery. Work has already taken place to identify some of the actions that are needed and what needs to change. Some actions, such as work on the digital service standards, are already underway. This is our first iteration of a delivery roadmap for this mission. Each of the missions in the strategy will have a clear plan for action. These will be living documents and progress against them will be monitored and reported.

Getting your feedback

We’d love to hear what you think about our ambitions in this mission, the outcomes we want to achieve and how we plan to deliver them. For example,

  • Do you think that these are the right outcomes?
  • What do you think the barriers might be?
  • Do you think there are any gaps and, if so, what are they?
  • If you had to prioritise, what would your top 3 priorities be?
  • What examples have you seen in Wales, or outside Wales, of services which provide a great user experience?
  • Where do think improvements could be made quickly, which would really help in our everyday lives?

Keep an eye out for our next blog on Mission 2: Digital Economy