We’ve completed a re-discovery of the Performance Platform. We blogged recently about why a re-discovery was necessary and the approach we decided to take. This is the second in a series of posts and looks at what we found in discovery. We'll be sharing our plans for the future soon too.
5 themes about data and performance
Our research gave us a rich understanding of performance, data and our users, and it helped us identify 5 themes:
1. To understand how a service is performing, online is not enough
To deliver a successful service, a team needs to understand how all the elements involved work together to meet users’ needs. This means including the performance of offline channels like call centres, and operational backstage activity like the document handling process. Without this insight it's difficult to accurately locate failure points and improve services effectively. We may be able to identify how one component is performing but fixing its issues in isolation might not address the most valuable thing.
2. Understanding performance includes more than just the service
When people talk about performance, they need to think about more than the 4 key performance indicators.Our research identified at least 4 dependent but sometimes competing priorities:
- Value to the users - how well does it meet the needs of users?
- Value to policy - how well does the work deliver against the policy outcomes?
- Value to the organisation - what’s important to the performance of the organisation?
- Value to the team - what’s important to the performance of the team?
Service teams themselves are in the best position to have a holistic of view of all these areas and explore the most useful and actionable data to support the agile improvement. The GDS Data and Performance Analysis community will be posting more on this in the coming weeks.
3. The poor quality of performance data is a challenge across government organisations
Data is often inconsistent because it is collected and calculated in different ways. The accuracy of data also suffers from the inevitability of errors being introduced when people change things from one format to another.
4. Getting data internally is hard; getting data externally is even harder
We found that people had challenges with easily and quickly sourcing accurate information inside their own organisations but for those people who need information from external organisations the challenge was even greater.
5. Analysis cannot be automated; data without context is dangerous for decision-making
The capture of performance metrics that are then immediately available on dashboards is an attractive idea but does not provide the full context and detail that is required for decision making. The value of a dashboard is in provoking a conversation, to raise awareness of something requiring attention.Making the right decision requires further validation and analysis that drills into the detail and explores why something is happening and how to deal with it.
Having identified these themes, next we needed to evaluate who was making those decisions, and who the Performance Platform's primary user is.
Who is the key user for the Performance Platform?
In our discovery, we identified 7 personas to help us capture an insight into the product:
- Bart, the Active Citizen – an active member of the public who cares about government spending and how effective it is in dealing with issues that affect people's lives.
- Sharon, the Validator – an ‘outsider’ of government organisations, scrutinising how they’re progressing, offering specific recommendations and support to help them improve on behalf of citizens.
- Victor, the Facilitator – wants to use his expertise in data to help people understand and use data correctly, and ultimately to make the right decisions.
- Eric, the Guide – helps people who work on government projects to deliver successfully by understanding the requirements and standards they need to meet.
- Phillip, the Defender – wants to ensure the part of the service he’s involved in is doing well so he can prove its value and that of his team, and uses many methods from web analytics, to user feedback and search behaviour to do this.
- Cathy, the Reformer – needs to understand how all the parts of service work together and are performing so she can improve the service from end-to-end to best meet users’ needs, and help people get stuff done easily.
- Anna, the Strategist – focuses on not just improving one or a few services, but demonstrating the value of her strategies in transforming how government organisations deliver services at a scalable level.
We decided that Anna would be our primary persona. This is because she needs to know how services are performing across organisations and wider government in order to prioritise interventions. It is here that we believe the value of a centrally built performance product exists.
About Anna, the Strategist
Anna offers help and support to agencies and departments and prioritises based on high-level performance data. She also needs to keep stakeholders informed on the progress of transformation, by gathering data from multiple sources to build a compelling narrative.
She finds it is very difficult to know all the services provided by organisations and their interplay in meeting users’ needs. A large amount of her time is also wasted trying to get data in order to prioritise her work, which proves almost impossible.
The lack of performance data for non-digital channels makes it hard for her to track the effectiveness of digitisation.
In our next post, we’ll discuss the next steps we have planned for the Performance Platform. Subscribe to this blog to receive the latest updates.