Monitor and improve
Plan to continuously improve
Continuous improvement means more than doing basic maintenance to fix bugs or errors. It's about responding to changes in user needs, technology and policy. Your service should remain relevant and fit for purpose. You should be proactive and retire your service intentionally rather than neglecting it.
Content, information and technology can change at a fast pace. So can business and user needs and how you measure success.
Once your product or service goes live, set clear review dates to assess, address and report on:
- how it's meeting your success measures
- if usability testing results show it still meet's user needs
- any changes in user needs
- any changes in policy
- performance issues.
Explore two project scenarios of an approach to planning, where a team’s service design goal is to increase the user’s uptake of accreditation.
Allocate team resources
Know what resources you will need to make improvements. It's critical that you plan for resources and budget early on. You will need to maintain, iterate and improve the service throughout its lifetime.
If there's no trigger for a new iteration immediately after launch, you should scale back your resources.
Allocate budget and people to ensure you keep your service running and fit for purpose. You will usually need less resources to maintain your service, but a full team for significant improvements. For example, when you address a user pain point that you uncover post launch, which would result in changes to the service.
Make sure a team or person has oversight of the service to ensure:
- it is secure and stable
- privacy and security safeguards
- it's continually monitored.
Under-resourced teams will result in poor outcomes (in cost or quality) for improvement work. You should use the same design and build team for the iteration process. Otherwise, consider who you'll need to make the improvements.
Trigger points to monitor
Set up an ongoing monitoring process during the life of your product or service. Identify triggers that will let you know when something has failed or is no longer for purpose.
This will help you know when to act to make improvements and fix any issues with your service.
Trigger points can include:
- feedback from your users gathered through usability testing, surveys, reviews and so on
- a set amount of time
- a predefined increase or decrease in your metrics of success
- a drop in technical performance
- security patches.
Use evidence to improve
You will have set metrics to track the success of your service and established a baseline.
You can use tools like web and data analytics to track performance. They will show you how it's improved. Consider things like:
- rate of escalation in complaints
- response speed
- conversion rates.
Capture and act on feedback from your users to assess how well the service is meeting their needs. Look at customer comments on feedback pages, app store reviews, usability testing and user research after go-live.
Use the data and information you gather to support any decisions to improve or make changes Don't forget to test any new features or changes you make.
Keep up to date with changes
Keep up to date with any technology, policy or legal changes in your sector. This will ensure you provide customers with accurate, timely and relevant services.
Also assess whether your product or service could provide a simpler or faster way of doing things. If you don't, you run the risk of it being outdated and unusable.
Test your service
Test performance at regular intervals after go-live. This includes basic maintenance. Testing helps to identify improvements you need to make.
Follow your agency's standard templates and artefacts for testing. Also see Gov.UK and the 18F testing cookbook for guidance.
Maintain your service
With basic maintenance activities you will help to keep the service running as intended. Do things like:
- check that content is still accurate, current and relevant. If not, either update or archive it
- implement security patches when they become available
- practice vulnerability, penetration and security testing
- performance test to maintain speed, responsiveness and availability of your service.
Document and share improvements
Document any changes you make to the product or service. Tell your users, stakeholders and leaders about it. Send an Electronic Direct Mail (EDM), blog about it, or hold regular presentations.
Add any future improvement opportunities to your backlog.