FutureGov around the world

Over the past eight years, we’ve helped more than a hundred local and national authorities across four continents think differently about public services

London Borough of Barking and Dagenham Council

What does radical redesign look like? For Barking and Dagenham, it’s about creating services that emphasise frontline impact over institutions.

As part of their 2020 strategy and vision, the borough is considering several areas of reform, as well as how those reforms could be best delivered. We are helping them re-envision a council built around users rather than departments, one that breaks down silos and brings services together.

What makes communities feel confident? In Barking and Dagenham, it’s about place -- building a safe, clean, well-connected borough. What keeps your community strong? How can you maintain that feeling even in the face of cuts and changes to service delivery?

Even ideation sessions can be impact-driven. In this workshop, the team balances exploring new ways of working with keeping practicalities in mind. How can we do a better job of balancing creative thinking with building business cases?

The team considers the relationship between council and citizen -- both in terms of today and what it could look like tomorrow. What would it look like if councils moved from delivery first to empowerment first?

The project starts with inspiration from other councils, other countries, and other industries. What can we learn from our neighbours? From our favourite companies?

We're helping to combine multiple services and teams into a single “front door”, making sure people get the support they need from the moment they contact the council.

Dorset County Council

The Dorsetforyou partnership board approached us with a bold and exciting new prospect: rather than simply rehaul the council’s website, we were tasked with helping define an approach for joined up digital transformation across Dorset’s councils.

What’s the difference? Digital transformation involves not just new web properties but also a reframing of the sorts of technology, skills and finance required to design new digital services for citizens that better meet their needs, improve their experience and save money.

Google results for “West Dorset council tax.” The current site structure makes finding the right page difficult. Does user experience start before people even get to our website? In what ways?

As part of a workshop, Dorset staff are asked to think about what both citizens and frontline staff want out of the IT customer service process. Are we asking frontline staff for their opinions as often as we should? How can we better listen to their voices?

Workshop participants start by identifying a specific problem they’re trying to solve. Beyond wicked problems, what are the specific issues your organisation faces? How could digital and design help address them?

A prototype Dorset website that echoes the look and feel of GOV.UK’s standard. What would it look like if we took the best of what GDS has to offer and blended it with solutions that work for local government’s needs?

We developed a GDS-inspired prototype with the ability to redesign transactional journeys. We also facilitated skills transfer, drafted a style guide and component library, and provided guidance for the site's full redesign.

Salford City Council

In 2015, Salford City Council asked us to identify ways of improving outcomes for young people in the area of Little Hulton. Over the course of several months we conducted extensive quantitative and qualitative research to understand what makes Little Hulton unique -- and what might improve things for young people living there.

The project is still ongoing; to date, we have conducted in-depth ethnographic research and provided insights that will guide prototype development moving forward.

Single mum Sophie taught herself British Sign Language by watching YouTube videos. Now she’s teaching her son Noah, who is profoundly deaf. How can we celebrate stories like Sophie’s—and inspire others to find their own paths to education?

27-year-old Alan remembers when doctors handed him his first son. “I didn’t know how to handle him,” he says. “My hands were used for violence.” What can we learn from the transformational moments in Little Hulton residents’ lives?

With nowhere else for teens to go, McDonald’s (with its free wi-fi) is the local hotspot. What would a real youth centre in Little Hulton look like? How could young people help design and run it?

Estates are largely self-contained, with few shops or places to go. People stick to “safe zones” -- nobody explores. How do we cross the “Kingdoms” and make Little Hulton a more unified community?

Via in-depth ethnographic research, we were able to generate insights to guide prototype development moving forward.

Bexley London Borough Council

By the time the London Borough of Bexley started working with us in late 2015, they'd already started towards using digital and design to reimagine their services. However, they wanted a dedicated space to house these type of innovative approaches, as well as some guidance on how to create solutions at scale.

A group of young people with special educational needs in Bexley describe how they feel about different types of transport. How might we do a better job of listening to the young people and/or those with disabilities who use our services?

A suggestion for a more holistic approach to service delivery -- one that combines support for parents with SEN provision. Could combining services we offer children and services we offer parents work better for users and save money at the same time?

A lunch and learn session introduces Bexley staff to concepts like organisation design, prototyping, and Agile. How can new ways of working benefit every department, from HR to ICT?

Sample bank cards used for “guerrilla testing” -- 10-15 minute user observation to see how people interact with the council’s services. Research doesn’t have to be a massive undertaking. What could we learn from just one hour of user testing?

Through the framework of two key projects (SEN transport and payments), joint FutureGov and Bexley teams are exploring how design thinking can be used to address some of the council's most challenging issues.

Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council

Improving school readiness and helping every child to have the best start in life are key strategic priorities for Tameside Council; currently, only 42% of Tameside children are school-ready by age five. To help address an issue of parents not accessing support services, FutureGov worked with Tameside to conduct in-depth research and provide recommendations for improving the user experience.

Parents’ own struggles -- like anxiety, depression, and literacy levels -- often keep them from accessing services. How can programmes for children also address the real needs their parents face?

Referral classes are stigmatised, and parents are embarrassed to attend them. How can we reposition classes as something “good” parents choose to do, not something “bad” parents are forced to do?

Parents have appetite for information, but they can quickly become overwhelmed -- especially at Health Visitor meetings. How can we better signpost parents through the New Delivery Model?

Visible impact on their children’s development is incredibly motivating to parents. How can we help more parents see the tangible benefits of support services?

FutureGov worked with Tameside to conduct in-depth research and provide recommendations for improving the user experience.

Surrey County Council

As part of a £1 million, three-year digital innovation partnership, FutureGov worked with Surrey Council to set up an innovation space to transform the way public services are designed and delivered.

Initially staffed with a joint team of designers, technology strategists and leaders of transformational change, the lab -- dubbed Shift Surrey -- focused on several exemplar projects to showcase different ways of working. One of those projects is Lantern, an online self-assessment tool that lets citizens identify their own social care eligibility and also recommends an alternative list of services beyond those directly managed by the council.

As a fully embedded space for innovation, Shift Surrey was designed to foster innovation at every level of the organisation. How might a dedicated space for innovation help your organisation plan for five, ten, even twenty years down the line?

A FutureGov designer turns her notes into drawings -- distilling the best of what’s been discussed into an easy-to-remember format. How might it change our organisations if we rethought even small ways of working?

The team looks at how taxi companies could become part of delivering special education needs transport. How might councils partner with for-profit companies to help deliver services?

User research doesn’t have to be stodgy. Shift Surrey uses posters and balloons to ask passersby how they would improve public space. What can we do to make public consultation a fun experience?

After the end of our three-year partnership, the lab became fully self sufficient. It continues to deliver change in Surrey through work with the council, its partners, and local residents.

Wigan Council

Nearly 2,000 social care professionals across the UK and Australia use Patchwork, a FutureGov product that facilitates inter-agency connection around shared clients. In 2014, we partnered with Wigan to implement Patchwork with their local agencies—and now 35 organisations, from Adult Social Care to the Greater Manchester Police, are using the tool to provide better, more integrated care.

A Patchwork alert helped one care worker better prepare to help a vulnerable client -- thanks to a colleague at another agency, she knew their shared client was likely to be intoxicated and in distress when he visited her. What would social care look like if more professionals knew when their clients were in distress?

People who access social care often feel as if they have to repeat the same stories over and over to different agencies. How could we minimise the redundancy clients experience by sharing information between care workers?

GPs have ten minutes to assess a child’s injuries and determine if there are safeguarding concerns. How else might police, fire, or medical professionals benefit from having more information about their clients?

Professionals spend hours each week trying to track down contact information for colleagues at other agencies. What are the financial implications of this time? What else could professionals be spending their time on?

FutureGov partnered with Wigan to implement Patchwork with their local agencies—and now 35 organisations, from Adult Social Care to the Greater Manchester Police, are using the tool to provide better, more integrated care.

Bolton Council

In the face of significant budget cuts, we partnered with Bolton Council to reconsider their approach to customer engagement. Using Bolton’s housing benefit process as a case study, we worked with the council’s customer service team and local residents to understand what their strategy would mean for citizens, as well as what other opportunities remained to help the council create an excellent experience for their customers.

Informed by research with citizens and staff, we delivered a fully fledged digital transformation strategy, along with a roadmap for implementation. We also developed a working digital prototype for the council to test with customers.

An Ethiopian man works with a translator to access council services. 9% of Bolton residents do not speak English as their preferred language—but those 9% make up 25% of all calls to the Housing Benefit team. How can we make services more accessible to non-English-speakers?

A “one stop shop” is meant to simplify slides but often complicates them. To avoid long queues, customers phone the housing team from across the room. Instead of “pushing” people to cost-effective channels, how do we make those channels their first choice?

“Fully a quarter” of calls to the team are people checking on the status of their applications. Are there better ways people could track their applications? What digital tools could support that?

Residents are never sure which documents they need to provide; the team’s hardware often fails, so people have to bring the same evidence over and over again. How can we make sure people only need to provide their evidence once?

Informed by research with citizens and staff, we delivered a fully fledged digital transformation strategy, along with a roadmap for implementation. We also developed a working digital prototype for the council to test with customers.

Coventry Council

As part of their commitment to unify and simplify the customer experience, Coventry City Council recently consolidated their existing customer service centres into one new single point of access.

To build on the new centre’s successful launch, and to help inform a wider strategy around channel shift, Coventry asked FutureGov to help understand and optimise user experience.

Direct quotes from Coventry residents. What issues in your users’ everyday lives might affect how they engage with your service?

Coventry’s new customer service centre has an open floor plan, natural light, and comfortable booths for visitors to sit at. What kind of physical environment have you designed for your users?

The team explores ways to reduce “evidencing,” or the amount of information required of users. How many times are your users required to provide information? Can any of them be eliminated or combined?

FutureGov designers create an “as-is” journey map to understand every step of the housing benefit process. Have you tracked your user experience from the moment citizens first contact you until their issues are resolved?

After extensive research we delivered recommendations to reduce footfall, simplify scanning and validation, and improve customer satisfaction. We also distilled user feedback into a set of key principles for “what good looks like," providing a simple set of guidelines for future improvement.