Public sector co-creation in action: Flexible service design with LeanLab

Case Digital and Population Data Services Agency

When public services are being digitalised, it is key to align ways of working to ensure that the end result is of high quality and that it adds value to the users. The Ministry of Finance lists the 9 principles of digitalisation on their website, with the first principle being: “We will provide services based on our customers’ needs”.

The Suomi.fi user community plays a key role in ensuring this principle is followed.

The online community operating on the LeanLab platform was set-up during the autumn of 2017 to support the development of the Suomi.fi service in a user centric way. The community consists of 200 Finnish consumers across various regions, from students to pensioners. Digital and Population Data Services Agency (DDV) maintains the community together with Digitalist’s experts.

The LeanLab community is utilised for various needs from defining big strategical lines to iterating small details. Utilising different activities and methodologies ensures that the insights gathered are of high quality and that the community participants remain actively engaged. For some an open group discussion is motivating, while for others selecting their favourite keeps them engaged.

The versatile usage of the LeanLab community as part of service design

The development of the Suomi.fi service is done using agile and lean methods. This has made it possible to involve community participants throughout the different phases of development. Typically, during the first phase, consumers’ needs and thoughts on the topic are mapped using discussions and a survey. After this ideation as well as evaluation of different implementation options is done and after launch consumers are asked for feedback on the outcome. For example, the different versions of the front page of the Suomi.fi website has been evaluated and co-iterated by consumers several times during the development.

The Suomi.fi service covers various different public services and the content included on the website covers several complex topics and is based on legal texts. The content created for the service is done by qualified professionals, who are experienced in their specific field. However, the challenge sometimes is how to express certain things so that all consumers understand the content and are able to take actions based on it. The evaluation of different content and how easy they are to understand are often part of the community activities. Consumers have for example evaluated and co-iterated testament and social benefit texts as well as selected how to label different topics.

The community is also utilised to support other methodologies. For example, when designing user tests and other research, the community has been used to find out preconceptions and experiences of different topics as well as what different factors should be considered. After service design workshops and qualitative interviews, the community has been used to quantify the findings and shed light on the challenges that have been discussed. Community members have also been recruited to participate in in-depth interviews as well as workshops.

The benefits of the LeanLab community

Using LeanLab as part of service design is fast, easy and cost effective. Launching a discussion or a short survey is effortless, and results are ready in only a couple of days.
The Suomi.fi service covers various different public services and the content included on the website covers several complex topics and is based on legal texts. The content created for the service is done by qualified professionals, who are experienced in their specific field. However, the challenge sometimes is how to express certain things so that all consumers understand the content and are able to take actions based on it. The evaluation of different content and how easy they are to understand are often part of the community activities. Consumers have for example evaluated and co-iterated testament and social benefit texts as well as selected how to label different topics.

In addition, the LeanLab community has allowed us to engage a larger and wider audience across the whole of Finland in the service development process (compared to traditional qualitative and service design methods).  This has also allowed us to understand the differences between target groups. The community brings the most value when combined with other service design methods.

Particularly when it comes to public services it is crucial that consumers are involved in the development process in a comprehensive way – providing them with a real opportunity to influence the development and outcome.

The LeanLab community approach is a concrete way to make sure that the defined objectives are achieved by involving consumers in true co-creation and development of the services.

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