The Dutch government’s public administration intranet is accessed by over 100,000 civil servants, from across different departments, external vendors and suppliers. The current intranet was designed and built quite some years ago, so a serious overhaul was needed to bring the key internal digital services up to speed with the current needs of policy makers and support staff. STBY was invited to help scoping the development of this new, more efficient and extended portal, with the aim to cater for the current needs of its disparate users.
Userlabs with civil servants
To accommodate for the large numbers of stakeholders involved, STBY held a series Userlabs with civil servants, which resulted in over 100 key individual user journeys reporting on a wide range of tasks. The aim of this extensive exploration was to better understand the needs, preferences and priorities of all the different stakeholders involved (e.g. policy developers, administrative staff, and shared services executives).
Key customer journeys
Analysis of the user journeys showed that they were all grounded in five types of tasks: searching for information, reading news, putting information on the intranet, arranging practical tasks like leave requests or reservation of an office, and working together / sharing information. Clusters of similar journeys could be synthesised into one iconic journey for each of the tasks, annotated on aspects that were easy to perform or that were not provided for. This synthesis also highlighted how certain tasks were performed differently by different users. And it showed that many users had been using external tools to collaborate and share more information amongst themselves, rather than the current intranet which was unable to support such interaction.
Input for the overall business case
Based on the insights from the design research with civil servants, STBY developed and visualised seven core values for the new intranet. These were specifically commissioned by the strategic planning committee, charged with developing the internal business plan for the new intranet. In the workshops with them, and in the final report we delivered, a clear trail of evidence from the original base of individual user journeys to the synthesised iconic journeys, and finally the core values for the new intranet, built up a clear rationale for the overall business case.
STBY then facilitated a final workshop with the planning committee where the results of the design research were used to explore the business models which could form the foundation for the new intranet. STBY synthesed these explorations into a combined business model and a developed a visual overview for easy communication of the key principles. This visualisation reflected the strategic scope for the new intranet, and indicated a set of success criteria based on the priorities and shared values of the civil servants and other stakeholders using the intranet. This now forms the basis for the design of the new intranet.
Using a design research approach in such an early stage of the strategic planning and development process for the new intranet helped the client team to not jump to requirements and specifications too early, but first to firmly understand the user needs and priorities that created a clear focus and grounded it in a solid evidence base.