Can governments use design thinking to improve one-stop government?
Government service delivery is changing with the advent of digital government. Governments need to take a customer centric approach and not focus on internal process to best serve their customers.
So what is a “one-stop” portal and what is design thinking?
If I paraphrase the Wikipedia definition for “one-stop” shop it talks about a single place for a customer to go where multiple services are offered; i.e., customers can get all they need in just “one-stop.”
As governments have gone down the path of digital government many have started offering one-stop portals for multiple use cases. These portals are a great step in the right direction for improving customer engagement. Governments need to ensure they are designed properly to maximize public value.
Design Thinking is a process for solving problems and creating or improving processes and products. It focuses on the three main elements of a product or solution: people, technology, and business. It uses and outside in approach and places the customer at the center of the process. So instead of focusing on internal processes, systems and issues we put the customer first.
In the commercial world it is generally accepted that businesses that lack customer focus will typically fail. Design thinking makes the customer the main focal point of design for the solution, not an afterthought.
The great thing about design thinking is that it is not just applicable to SAP and software. It can be effective in government, education, or manufacturing for example. It can be used to develop new products and services or improve existing processes and services.
So how do design thinking and one-stop come together to create great customer experiences and to help ensure project success?
Many of the one-stop portal project in government have failed. I cannot offer a reason on why they have failed but perhaps “public value” has had something to do with it. My colleague Brian Lee-Archer has great definition for digital government: digital government refers to the production and access to data, services and content, sourced and distributed across the digital ecosystem, to create public value.
It is important to focus on “public value”. Everyone should share in the value. It is not simply value for individuals through easy access to government services and information. Neither is it value for government as doing more for less. Rather, public value refers to the various benefits for society that may vary according to the perspective of the actors. Public value is collective rather than what accrues to each party.
So when government are building these “one-stop” portals what do they focus on and how do they determine public value?
If governments use a more traditional inside out approach they risk focusing primarily on their internal processes and systems? This might maximize internal value for government but will probably not maximize value for the customer. I believe that government should use a design thinking methodology. This outside in approach will focus on customer value but not to the detriment of internal value. Following design thinking will help governments better understand their customers’ needs and reinvent the one-stop portal to deliver greater value to your customers. This should drive public value and hopefully project success.
More to come on customer engagement in government, including one-stop portals in future blogs.
Some nice links to read: