Helping teams define their focus

Melanie Cannon
Aug 18, 2017 · 2 min read

First published on 28 February 2017 : https://dwpdigital.blog.gov.uk/2017/02/28/helping-teams-define-their-focus/

Our Content Design team at DWP Digital has been collaborating across our product and design community to help service teams define their focus.

We want to get to the point where every service team has identified and written a service name, a mission statement and a service description.

At DWP Digital we organise our teams around products. These products are all part of the services we deliver. Understanding the service we’re working on and what it does for the person using it is important.

It’s worth investing the time to define a clear focus, written in plain English. It helps teams work effectively and efficiently, knowing everyone is working to solve the same problem.

Part of the content design role is to help service teams communicate clearly, so we’ve come up with some guidance for a standard approach.

Service name

What’s the service called?

This should:

  • start with a verb
  • describe the activity the service lets the user do and reflect the policy intent
  • be made of words the people using the service use
  • be the only way the service is referred to

For example:

Apply for an Access to Work Grant

Mission statement

What’s the long-term goal of the service?

This should:

  • be a single sentence
  • start with a verb
  • not refer to a solution
  • be possible to measure
  • be big enough to aim for
  • be adaptable to change

For example (Apply for an Access to Work Grant):

Be the simplest, fastest way for people with a disability or health condition to get the practical help and support they need to stay in work and live independently.

Service description

What will the service let people do?

This should:

  • explain what the service does
  • start with a verb
  • evolve as the service evolves

For example (Apply for an Access to Work Grant):

Lets people who are disabled, or have a long-term health condition that makes their work life difficult, get and manage a grant to pay for adjustments to their workplace, transport, or support so that they can keep working.

Staying focused

Defining the team’s focus is something we should revisit throughout the lifecycle of delivering a service.

It’s easy to lose sight of the problem we set out to solve. And it’s important to keep questioning our assumptions as we learn more about user needs by delivering new services into the world.

In the discovery phase teams identify user needs and work to understand and shape policy, while exploring what the service will let people do. The service description at this stage will look different to the description in alpha and beta, when more user insights and a better understanding of policy will help refine it.

We deliver services iteratively. Defining our focus is no different. Content design is a way to help us communicate clearly about the problems, long-term goals, products and services we’re working on.

Leading Service Design

Leading Service Design with Kate Tarling, Ben Holliday and guests

Melanie Cannon

Written by

Head of Content Design, Department for Work and Pensions (These are my views)

Leading Service Design

Leading Service Design with Kate Tarling, Ben Holliday and guests