A diagnostic tool that through a short set of questions provides people in business, or those wishing to start a business, with clear advice and information that meets their needs. This includes signposting to sources of information, government schemes that could help their business, private sector support; and, for those businesses that have a specific need, where to get that support. The tool helps tease out the support and information that a business should consider based on a series of well tested and structured questions – particularly important for those businesses not entirely certain what they need to do to grow, start up, or solve a problem.
Department / Agency:
Date of Original Assessment:
Date of Reassessment:
Result of Original Assessment:
Result of Reassessment:
N. Chowdhury (Original) / M. Harrington (Reassessment)
31st October 2014
The My Business Support service is seeking permission to launch as a Beta service.
Outcome of service reassessment
After consideration the assessment panel has concluded that the My Business Support service has shown sufficient progress and evidence of meeting the Digital by Default Service Standard criteria to pass a Beta assessment. Due to the similar nature of this service to the existing Business Finance Support Finder, discussions should continue with GOV.UK on next steps for both of these tools.
It is clear that the team have made significant progress since their first assessment and it was really positive to hear examples of how user feedback had directly influenced the design of the product. Similarly, the use of call centre information to iterate the questions and terminology was particularly good. The possible emergence of different user groups for the the two tools, My Business Support and Business Finance Support Finder, was interesting and it will be good to see how this hypothesis develops with the planned further A/B testing. There is however a slight concern that the service could be being used to test users rather than the other way round, but with care this can be mitigated.
The service manager was able to talk through the team on the product and describe the working relationships with the agency building the product. The usual agile artifacts are being used and the service manager has suitable input and prioritisation over stories. There is now a user researcher embedded in the team for 60% of their time, and while development is not co-located, the integration of design and research appears to be working well.
Security, Privacy, Tools and Standards
There is no personal data stored and no accounts. Testing is run in a staging environment. An external agency have been engaged to do the pen testing. A very similar product is live on the Great Business site which passed pen testing. The product is tested on desktop, mobile and tablets across a range of browsers.
Improving the service
The team can respond to bugs/issues and iterate quickly. It is easy for the development team to release but there is some downtime necessary (albeit measurable in minutes). These abilities are expected to remain in place for public beta with the service looking to move towards two-week sprints from one-week sprints.
There has been no designer involved in this project but the team have done well to give the service the look and feel of a GOV.UK service. There are no non-digital steps to integrate with the service.
Analysis and Benchmarking
The team gave good examples of how they have analysed and iterated on the service. The example of changing the layout of the report based on user feedback and then testing the new design right away was one of these. The service is using analytics and data from the contact centre to iterate. It is particularly good to see this offline data being used to iterate the service.
The panel thought that the team answered the questions well at the assessment and there has been significant progress since the first assessment on 2nd September. It is good to see the team have acted on the recommendations of the previous report and have focused on user research.
The service has passed the beta assessment and the recommendations listed above are within the capability of the team to help further iterate the service through public beta.
Summary of Original Report
2nd September 2014
My Business Support is seeking permission to go to public beta on the service.gov.uk domain.
Outcome of service assessment
The assessment panel concluded My Business Support should not be given approval to launch on a service.gov.uk domain as a beta service.
While it is clear there has been significant effort from the team to develop the tool in alpha, there is considerable concern that this tool is too similar in scope to the Business and Finance Support finder on GOV.UK which is also currently under iteration.
It does not simplify the process for the user, and is not cost-effective to continue to develop two information tools in parallel when they intend to serve the same or very similar purposes. The panel strongly recommends that My Business Support should stop development and work with GOV.UK to determine user needs and let this inform which single tool to iterate.
In order for My Business Support Finder tool to continue development the outcome of discussions with the GOV.UK team should be reported to the DbD Service Standards team, along with an agreed plan and timeline for the phasing out of either service. The service which continues development will need to demonstrate a clear understanding of user needs and have on-going financial commitment to continue.
As part of the on-going development of the single tool, the panel suggests the team focuses on the following areas.
When asked to name user needs, the evidence used by the team was grounded in an annual report from the Star Chamber, not in a methodology in line with the Service Standard. In the on-going the development of the single tool there must be continuous user research to understand user needs. This can be achieved by undertaking the following actions.
- Conduct in-depth research into user needs and develop a shared understanding across the team by talking directly to a robust sample of users
- Put a clear plan in place for research in the next phase
- Use search term data on GOV.UK to find out what user needs there are for this sort of service
- Embed a user researcher within the team and make sure the team is concentrating on real user needs
- Make sure that the backlog is prioritised in response to user feedback
- Make time for more than one iteration based on user feedback
- Test the questions that the service contains
- Are they the right sort of questions?
- Are users task-focused rather than exploratory?
- Do users expect government to provide this sort of information?
- Do users just google this sort of information?
- Test the report that is generated at the end of the service to ensure it is meeting user needs
Assisted digital and digital take-up
[Following discussion with the GDS Assisted Digital team it was agreed that because this website is non-transactional, assisted digital support and digital take-up would not be required. This area was therefore not considered at reassessment.]
The team demonstrated comprehensive national support for people who are unable or prefer not to use the digital tool, including web chat, telephone (talk through and on behalf of) and face to face support. However, there was no evidence of user research into assisted digital user needs specific to this service so it was unclear whether this support would meet those needs. There were also no clear plans to test and iterate the support based on feedback in beta. It is essential to do this to meet the standard. The service should also develop a digital take-up plan to phase out existing alternative channels, where appropriate.
Technology, Architecture, and Openness
The team explained the choice of technologies, the planned architecture, and the plans for opening up the code they have developed. The use of widely adopted open source tools limit locking, and allow for future reuse/repurposing. The plans, agreed by the relevant BIS staff to release the code under the MIT licence should be followed through on without waiting for release of a public beta. This will make it easier for the BIS and GOV.UK teams to determine if there is a way to combine components from the two tools.
The tool is currently applying a GOV.UK style format which is out-of-date. The team should follow the guidance in the service manual.
They should also implement the templates in https://github.com/alphagov/govuk_template
The smart answer format was changed from the original Business and Finance Support Finder to the current finder tool. This structure seems to be replicating a previous iteration of the Business and Finance Support Finder tool. The questions on the smart answer part of the tool were generally fine with a clear effort to be plain English. There are problems in the output which should be addressed:
- The first section under My Business doesn’t follow the style guide (it should be a table or text, not split, for accessibility reasons)
- Generally a profusion of bold text which should be limited
- The formatting of the contact details and links are not in style
Digital by Default Service Standard criteria