Customer Driven Business Development
CLARITY - Open eGovernment Services
27Feb
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Customer Driven Business Development

by   |   27 Feb, 2018

During 2017, the City of Skellefteå engaged in a project focused on work with service design. It has contained two parts. The first part consists of three services in the “My Skellefteå” app for citizens, developed with residents and employees (based on challenges formulated by the municipality). The second part, that has also used the same method, has had municipal managers as the target group, and has focused on what needs they have to increase the ability to change and digitize the operations.
 
One of the most important parts of the project has been the methods for engaging citizens to participate in development work. The participants have received a theoretical education, which has since been the basis for practical work, and then a theoretical education has been obtained in the next step, once again used as base for practical work, in an iterative loop. The mix between theoretical education and the practical work of interviewing and testing solutions with citizens has been highly appreciated by the participants. It has been perceived that the working method provides opportunities that we previously lacked in our toolbox and that they can be used in many contexts.
 
The results from the first part of the project—based on the three challenges that the project received from the municipality's activities—were mixed, and the reasons for that is something that can be discussed. The first challenge was very wide with an overall goal and the business had no specific plans for what should be developed. The second was just the opposite, with very specific plans and goals from the business. In principle, it consisted of digitizing a very simple form. The last challenge concerned a more demarcated area with a service where the provider was prepared to change the service range and the services provided.
 
For the first service, no clear winner was found in the proposals developed. Instead three different proposals ended up about the same. In the end, one of the proposals was chosen, but there was no overall consensus that it was absolutely right. As there were some legal complications regarding responsibility, the service was handed over to a retirement association that is now deploying the service on Facebook based on one of the project's customer needs.
 
Due to its limitations, the second service was difficult to pass on to the citizens so the project group broadened the issue, to that of communication between the administration and the home. Then the problem arose that the provider did not recognize the challenge as theirs. In addition, the specific issue emerged as a need for the citizens, which did not make it easier to recognize the challenge. This meant that one could not utilise the results as planned, i.e. as a service in an app. Instead, the result has been used to develop other communication with the residences.
 
The last service resulted in a great need with many suggestions for citizens' ideas. After discussions, the provider continued working with many of the ideas and they have been the basis of a service in the app currently under construction. Remaining ideas will be used by the business for future development.

The conclusions that can be drawn from these examples are that in service design and innovation work it is important to choose the right scope for the challenge. With an excessive question it can be difficult to get a clear answer. If the question becomes too narrow, it’s difficult to get any response from the citizens. It is also important that the person who orders a work based on service design has insight that the needs of citizens may differ from what the provider believes.
 
The project's other sub-projects addressed to managers have also used service design where 20 managers have been interviewed. Insights have led to an action plan that will support managers to increase the ability to change. The most important aspects are to create a framework for high quality systems and to simplify the structures that surround managers. A toolbox is also needed to make it easier for managers to change the provider as well as the ability to get help and call away expertise, as a business developer in change work.

 

Author: Gustaf Ulander

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