The original vision for Stockport Council’s digital transformation programme was to significantly improve the customer experience by embracing all the advantages digital solutions bring. As the programme has developed the focus has widened, with the result that the solutions we are creating may be digital, non-technical, or a mixture of both.

Our current challenge is to transform the ‘Financial Landscape’ of the council. To help us with this project we are being supported by FutureGov, specialists in service design for public bodies.

Here, Joseph from FutureGov describes the start of this project.

Building on the work that’s already been done by the Digital by Design team, we’re helping Stockport Council take human centred design approaches beyond digital, working together to design better end to end services for the citizens of Stockport.  

During our time together we will be looking specifically at how money comes into the council from citizens and how it flows around and is managed internally. We’ll be starting within one discreet area – Waste services – to prototype customer experience improvements and identify new ways of working to eliminate the inefficiencies we know exist.

Why going beyond digital is important

‘Going beyond digital’ isn’t the title of a science fiction voyage into the unknown. We’re talking about how we use design to explore the wider experience of services beyond their digital parts. Together, we’re working to push at the edges of end to end service design, working with services across the council to truly develop empathy with citizens and the services they use.

Digital is only one part of a service. Users experience a variety of different situations and touchpoints beyond digital when interacting with a council service, like receiving letters or working with staff. It’s important we view service experiences for people as a whole, rather than individual pieces. We’re developing a holistic view of a service. 

With a holistic view, based on good insights, we can take what we know and focus on areas where we can create the most valuable and impactful change. It’s a complicated thing to break down, but having everyone in the council on board with our goals, we can identify the right changes.  

Working across the council

This is an exciting piece of work where we’re truly developing services across the council, from designing improved Finance services to Waste services. Through prototyping new ways of working across teams and the services they touch, we’re finding design patterns that can be applied to other parts of the council.

Working in these multidisciplinary teams that reach across different areas of the council, we are designing better experiences for staff and citizens. Having such a team is important because it enables us to understand a broad range from various perspectives. We need people with different ideas and perspectives to offer new ways of thinking about complicated problems. Having different minds working towards the same goals means it’s easier to take different ideas into the prototypes we test with people.

What’s next?

We’re currently entering an exciting phase of work where we’ll be looking at opportunities based on our research. We’ll start to look at ways of prototyping different ideas, so we can test our assumptions and learn even more about what users really need from the services Stockport Council delivers. This is the bit that always feels like someone switched on a light bulb. Where we come out from under the post-its and into a bright room filled with ideas for better services. 

It’s good to work with the talented team at Stockport and to have so many skills to hand. We’re used to working with people at the start of their transformation journey and it’s been great to join a team who’ve already started on this journey and who are keen to push their skills and knowledge to the limit. It’s exciting to think about where we’re going and what we’ll achieve with so many enthusiastic people on board for the voyage.

Joseph Bramall is a Service Designer at FutureGov. He began working with Stockport Council in January to support Stockport in creating better end to end services for citizens.

If you would like to learn more about this work, please contact joseph@wearefuturegov.com.