“It takes an average of 18 months to go from a blank piece of paper to go-live on a brand new platform and site, but Slough Borough Council did just that in eight months, in a pandemic,” Simon Putnam told attendees of our recent Digital Leaders Week webinar. It’s a remarkable achievement and one I’m proud we’ve been a part of!
Simon (Slough Borough Council’s IT & Digital Strategy Lead), is heading up a digital transformation as part of Slough’s ambition to become a ‘world class council’. The ‘world class’ ambition – which originates from the council’s Chief Executive Josie Wragg – spells out the aim of meeting the highest standards, whilst leaving enough room for individual interpretation. Simon explained that to him it means the council should be an exemplar for delivering outstanding services.
To achieve that aim, a digital ‘quantum leap’ was needed.
While 85 percent of Slough’s residents have access to digital council services, not many had been using them. A channel shift (encouraging people to access information and services online, rather than via the phone or in person) was needed to improve the customer/council interaction experience, and to provide cost efficiencies.
Without a digital team in place at the time, Simon began by defining a list of requirements for the new site on his own. It needed to be clean and easy to use (for both customers and staff). It needed to be accessible and digitally inclusive (usable by those with impairments). And it needed to be designed in line with the GDS (Government Digital Service) principles of not just building a website, but building digital services.
Simon was clear that a full redesign was needed, rather than a refresh.
Slough undertook market testing and selected the full Jadu platform, including Jadu CMS (Content Management System) eforms and customer experience management. Simon explained that Jadu is an ‘all-rounder’ and was chosen because of its ease-of-use and extensive integrations with other local government technology providers (he also referenced the importance of the Jadu Library, which is a shared repository of local government building blocks).
Simon brought in digital transformation specialists Methods to conduct a rapid discovery and build process. Matt Culpin, Business Development Director at Methods joined us to provide an overview of the accelerated five week discovery period that was undertaken. He laid out the prioritisation approach taken, which saw 280 processes become 50 initial services, and detailed how Methods developed a roadmap and built those processes in Jadu.
I then had the opportunity to run through the design process we undertook to create the new Slough.gov.uk. We had really clear direction, and a laser focus on producing a clean design that put functionality front and centre. There were no delays in signing things off thanks to the decisiveness and speed of Slough. This meant that the momentum was maintained and resulted in a really smooth project.
Accessibility is at the core of the design, as is functionality. This wasn’t just about the visuals but more about the difference the site can make to the people of Slough.
Navigation was key; we wanted to ensure that when people arrived at pages via searches, that their journey could continue in the most effective way possible. It was vital that people be able to find what they’re looking for (rather than calling in the first instance).
Thanks to the rapid delivery and build, things moved quickly. The before and after is like night and day. Navigation has been greatly improved. The new site is accessible and fully inclusive. The recent scoring from the Silktide Accessibility Index shows Slough is now amongst the Top 30 councils in the UK, scoring ‘Excellent’ for WCAG 2.1 AA compliance. We also know that more people are using digital services online due to the quality of design, improved navigation and vastly improved user experience.
Ultimately, this project has been such a success because of the team work. Methods brought expertise and objectivity, we at Jadu brought the platform, functionality and design creativity, and Slough Borough Council provided the clear vision, decisiveness and steadfast commitment to producing the best possible site. Ultimately, that’s what digital collaboration and good leadership is all about!