From idea to impact, the crucial steps in digital service delivery

Written by Laura Burnett, Delivery Director, Central & Devolved Industry, Made Tech

In the ever-changing landscape of public service delivery, the use of digital technology is a crucial way to meet citizens’ needs effectively. But after years of working in tech delivery, and driving positive change using digital services, I’ve found that while meeting user needs remains key, it’s equally important to make sure that digital products and services align with the original business case. This balance is particularly crucial in government, where budgets are shrinking and there’s a real need to achieve more with fewer resources. 


In this blog, I’d like to share some personal insights into how the initiation and discovery phases can help you create impactful and valuable digital services that deliver the benefits you set out to achieve at the start


So what is a valuable service?

It’s useful to remind ourselves first of all, about what constitutes a valuable service. A valuable service is usually defined as one that delivers a combination of these elements:


  • addresses a problem or fulfils a need for users
  • aligns with objectives
  • delivers economic benefits
  • saves time
  • streamlines processes
  • is accessible to all 


The Government Digital Service’s service standard provides a structured framework for building these valuable digital services and includes discovery, alpha, beta and live stages.  What’s often missed by digital teams is remembering to revisit the drivers that led to the project being funded in the initial business case. Taking the opportunity to revisit the legislative or financial reasons behind a project is crucial to success.


Understanding the value proposition

Crafting a valuable service starts right at the beginning, by looking to understand the core value proposition. It’s about delivering tangible benefits that resonate with both users and stakeholders. That’s why I’m a big advocate of collaborative exercises like the MadLibs workshop. 

Bringing together key stakeholders, we fill in the blanks to articulate why our service matters and the impact it will have. It’s a simple yet powerful way to align everyone towards a shared understanding of our mission and vision. Using this exercise, stakeholders are given prompts such as “Our service helps to _________, so ________.” Each participant fills in the blanks with their perspective, resulting in a collective understanding of the service’s value proposition.

Ultimately, the value proposition should be a one or 2 sentence summation of the key components of the business case, helping the team remain focused on the expected outcomes.


A hands-on approach to identifying users and their needs

But crafting a value proposition is just the beginning. As we move into the discovery phase, it’s all about rolling up our sleeves and diving into user research. We don’t just rely on data or intuition – we go out there and talk to the people who will actually use our service. By understanding their pain points and needs first-hand, we can validate that solving the identified user problems would meet the aims of the business case, using tools such as benefits mapping. 


Quantifying outcomes and benefits

And of course, no discovery is complete without defining outcomes and quantifying the predicted benefits. It’s not just about crunching numbers; it’s about taking a holistic perspective. We look beyond the metrics to understand the real impact our service is having on people’s lives. Are we saving them time? Are we making their lives easier? These are the questions that drive us forward and ensure that our future service will make a real difference in the world.


A journey of discovery and impact

Navigating the initiation and discovery phases of digital service delivery is more than just following a methodology – it’s a journey. By understanding the pain-points first-hand, creating a value proposition, and identifying anticipated outcomes, we can create services that not only meet citizens’ needs but also deliver tangible benefits against the business case. And for me, that’s what it’s all about—using technology to make a real difference in people’s lives.

Watch my recent Digital Leaders webinar to find out more about this topic and the subsequent phases of delivery. In particular, there’s a matrix to help you look at cost versus value decisions in a slightly different way

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