https://dwpdigital.blog.gov.uk/2017/02/28/helping-teams-define-their-focus/

Helping teams define their focus

I'm Melanie Cannon, lead content designer at DWP Digital.

Our Content Design team at DWP Digital has been collaborating across our product and design community to help service teams define their focus.

We want to get to the point where every service team has identified and written a service name, a mission statement and a service description.

Melanie Cannon, DWP
Melanie Cannon, DWP

At DWP Digital we organise our teams around products. These products are all part of the services we deliver. Understanding the service we’re working on and what it does for the person using it is important.

It’s worth investing the time to define a clear focus, written in plain English. It helps teams work effectively and efficiently, knowing everyone is working to solve the same problem.

Part of the content design role is to help service teams communicate clearly, so we’ve come up with some guidance for a standard approach.

Service name

What’s the service called?

This should:

  • start with a verb
  • describe the activity the service lets the user do and reflect the policy intent
  • be made of words the people using the service use
  • be written in title case (using capitals for the main words)
  • be the only way the service is referred to

For example:

Apply for an Access to Work Grant

Mission statement

What’s the long-term goal of the service?

This should:

  • be a single sentence
  • start with a verb
  • not refer to a solution
  • be possible to measure
  • be big enough to aim for
  • be adaptable to change

For example (Apply for an Access to Work Grant):

Be the simplest, fastest way for people with a disability or health condition to get the practical help and support they need to stay in work and live independently.

The Apply for an Access to Work Grant service
The Apply for an Access to Work Grant service

Service description

What will the service let people do?

This should:

  • explain what the service does
  • start with a verb
  • evolve as the service evolves

For example (Apply for an Access to Work Grant):

Lets people who are disabled, or have a long-term health condition that makes their work life difficult, get and manage a grant to pay for adjustments to their workplace, transport, or support so that they can keep working.

Staying focused

Defining the team’s focus is something we should revisit throughout the lifecycle of delivering a service.

It’s easy to lose sight of the problem we set out to solve. And it’s important to keep questioning our assumptions as we learn more about user needs by delivering new services into the world.

In the discovery phase teams identify user needs and work to understand and shape policy, while exploring what the service will let people do. The service description at this stage will look different to the description in alpha and beta, when more user insights and a better understanding of policy will help refine it.

We deliver services iteratively. Defining our focus is no different. Content design is a way to help us communicate clearly about the problems, long term goals, products and services we’re working on.

Talk to the content designer on your team or get in touch with me if you have any questions about how to define your service.

2 comments

  1. Ayesha Moarif

    Great to see teams to working together on this! Have to admit... I didn't understand what the Service actually did until I read ahead. Would a potential user call it that, or know to? One of the hardest things is even knowing a service is available for what you want to do.

    In this case the service feels more like "Getting help staying in work as a disabled person" (?) or however users think of it. "Access to work grant" is the current way DWP delivers that service. There may be other ways to deliver it if policy/org/tech changes happen, but the core user need / service would still remain the same.

    Link to this comment Reply
    • Melanie Cannon

      Hi Ayesha, thanks for your comment. You're right - it's crucial that the people who need the service are able to find it. The team will be doing more research around the name, looking at the words people use (rather than the words DWP uses) and how they find it. This has been a really useful exercise to run through with the team working on this service. It's helped everyone have a shared focus and understand what needs to happen next.

      Link to this comment Reply

Leave a comment