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Department of Health Intranet - Self Certification

Self Certifications are run internally by each department, organised through their responsible Digital Leader. The Digital Leader will certify the service meets the Digital by Default service standard criteria. The Self Certification process is currently in Alpha, and will continue to be iterated on. Services with over 100,000 transactions a year will continue to be assessed by GDS.

This is the new Intranet for the Department of Health (DH).

This replaces an old intranet called Delphi which started in 2003 and was rebuilt in 2008. The rebuild cost was £3m with large ongoing maintenance costs.

The new intranet was launched on 10th September to 2,500 staff. The content is similar to the old intranet – i.e. is the sort of corporate information which DH staff need to know – but has been rewritten and greatly simplified. It is now 90% migrated and navigation is easier.

As with the old site, the homepage is enforced; though the homepage has been greatly improved and optimised around how people use it.

Department / Agency:
Department of Health

Date of Submission:

Assessment Stage:

Lead Assessor:
P. Buckley / A. Knell

Service Manager:
J. Caplin

Digital Leader:
M. Davies

Assessors Summary:

User Needs

The team gave strong answers about the research into user needs they had done - they had collected statistics, run user groups, drawn on their network of existing Digital Champions, and done floorwalking. The service design above was informed by this.

The assessment panel had strong confidence that the team knew their users well and were developing the system in conjunction with them.

The Team

The assessment panel all noted that the people representing the DH Intranet looked and sounded like a team who respected each other and worked together well. They had a very strong answer around who was responsible for which jobs, being able to provide names against each role necessary to continue the intranet.

As is common with a lot of projects, there will be a period of change post-launch. The assessment panel agreed that this lack of continuity is probably the biggest risk to the project going forward. However, the team have planned against this and hopefully the Intranet board and the team spirit will enable continuity of the quality of work done so far.

Security, Privacy, Open Standards

For security, the intranet is hosted in Ireland with Amazon. The SIRO understands these risks and has signed them off and even issued the team with a certificate. All data held will be IL2 or below: personal data held but not personal sensitive. Penetration testing done by InfoAssure, medium and low bugs that came up which were all resolved for launch and re-tested, also signed off by DH Security team. In sum then, security is very strong though there is one point to note in the Channel Shift section below.

Meanwhile, although the intranet is on a commercial platform (WordPress), where there has been bespoke development, the source code will be made available on Github. The team also said that they will be blogging about the work they have done.

The panel would be delighted to see the team presenting at the Service Managers group or Digital Leaders as there are some useful experiences and lessons here for all Government.

Assisted Digital, Channel Shift, Accessibility

In what was a first for the panel, the team were able to say that they knew every user who had accessibility needs and had tested with them personally. They even had a process in place whereby they would be alerted when new people with assistance needs joined the DH.

In terms of channel shift, there is a plan to replace all all non-digital forms with direct to email digital forms. This is great for efficiency but presents a potential security challenge to ensure that staff don't start collecting inappropriate data which would push the Impact Level above the old IL2. This is not an insuperable problem but the team would do well to think of a process here to minimise the risk of collecting too much information.

Analytics and benchmarking

The analytics from the old Delphi system are very poor, only really having data of a user satisfaction of 26%. However, this is a useful metric and it would be good to hear how the new intranet compares.

Other than that, the panel were impressed at how many different sources of information were being used to take decisions as to development (Google Analytics, Word Press, Content Thumb up/down, user panels and so on). There is a nice idea to have users represented on the intranet board too.

The intranet board will receive weekly updates on stats.

Testing with the Minister

The team have invited the Minister to test it but he has not as yet taken them up on this. However, the Permanent Secretary has tested it and has given enthusiastic feedback.

Recommended actions

In general the assessment panel were very impressed with the hard work done by the team. We were particularly impressed by the work done rationalising and improving the content, by the way that everyone seemed to have a deep knowledge of the usage data, and also by the way the people in the meeting room looked and sounded like a team with mutual respect and shared goals.

As the team knows, when a site goes live it can be easy to lose a little bit of momentum, and the team face maybe 3 or 4 challenges going forwards:

  • Staff continuity
  • Testing of the back end as more people use it
  • What will happen when both iteration sprints have been used! It is the panel’s experience that there are normally many more requests than can be met, so the team may find themselves having to ask for more money in the future; it would be good if possible to find a way to secure a limited amount of maintenance funding for the intranet for the foreseeable future
  • There is also a potential security risk when forms are made widely available to DH staff

However, the assessment panel believe that the Development team are aware that these are potential problems and have processes in place to deal with them. The challenge therefore becomes not so much thinking of processes to ensure good practice, but ensuring that the processes are followed. Their close teamwork will be a huge asset as they negotiate this period, hopefully developing into a well-functioning project board which gives continuity of quality.

In summary, the assessment panel would like to thank the team for their time in showing off the system, and to congratulate them on the work done so far. We would love to see you continue to share your experiences across and beyond the DH so that other interested parties can see for themselves how your agile and user-centred approach, along with buying software as a service, can yield excellent and efficient outcomes.

We wish you good luck in keeping the quality over in the next period, and recommend that they give a further update on the 4 items above to the panel in perhaps 4-6 months time.

Results Against the Digital by Default Criteria:

Criteria Passed Criteria Passed
1 Yes 2 Yes
3 Yes 4 Yes
5 Yes 6 Yes
7 Yes 8 Yes
9 Yes 10 Yes
11 Yes 12 Yes
13 Yes 14 Yes
15 Yes 16 Yes
17 Yes 18 Yes
19 Yes 20 Yes
21 Yes 22 Yes
23 Yes 24 Yes
25 Yes 26 Yes