Life journey mapping is emerging as a go-to technique for government agencies looking to design their services around users. Jurisdictions around the nation are adopting the collaborative approach which has found success in other world-leading digital governments in the UK and New Zealand (NZ).
Service design for life events
The NSW government recently hosted two NZ public servants to expound on the lessons learnt from the creation of the SmartStart website. The website compiles all the relevant information and services required for a pregnant woman’s journey through maternity. By collating and chronologically presenting this information, it can streamline what had historically been a process which required contact with four different agencies and no one single repository of targeted information.
SmartStart was created on a budget of NZ$1M and the website has had 400,000 visits over one year with around 60,000 births in NZ.
This emergent direction in service design professes to be human-centred and non-hierarchical among agencies. The rationale for the strategy is the acknowledgement of the difficulty of navigating government as an individual. It highlights the importance of adopting life journey mapping methods around new and stressful events for citizens such as birth or the death of a loved one.
Therefore, removing silos between agencies and establishing WofG digital identity providers are emerging as crucial government goals in the development of such platforms.
The ChildStory website created by Family and Community Services (FACS) for children in out-of-home-care (OOHC) is one such example of life journey mapping in NSW. The website is intended to centre the child in the OOHC process, to provide a more coherent end-user experience. It also helps to allocate resources and caseworkers more effectively with a full view of an individual child’s ‘journey’ through the system. The platform did however have initial teething problems, costing $90 million over several years of development.
NZ’s successful experience with multiagency collaboration had its genesis in the NZ Service Innovation Lab which will be partnering with its NSW counterpart the digital.NSW Accelerator (DNA) Lab.
The NSW DNA Lab has three key functions:
- Cross-agency collaboration on digital service design.
- Understand the life journeys of NSW citizens holistically.
- To establish reusable infrastructure that can facilitate the growth of such systems.
Part of the digital transformation project towards adopting life journey mapping and other similar projects has meant the hiring of specific technology, policymaker and service-delivery roles by the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation (DFSI). The intention of these positions is to enable “genuine collaboration” within the public service through the conduit of digital government, likely through initiatives like the DNA Lab.
The United Kingdom (UK) is another member of the Digital 7 countries that has its own digitally focussed Policy Lab. Like the NZ and NSW labs it stresses an “agile, flexible and iterative” and user-centric approach to service design.
Life journey mapping in other jurisdictions
Similar approaches have found currency in the UK Government. Like in the experience of NZ SmartStart, journey mapping was emphasised as not an “end in itself” but more of a technique for creating useful services for citizens. Furthermore, journey mapping does not require large budgets and can be started as a small project which will develop over time as practices evolve and platforms begin to have an uptake by customers.
The recently released Digital Transformation Strategy envisioned the federal government’s take on life journey mapping through a series of “user stories”. These vignettes focused on maternity and end of life like NZ and demonstrated the possibility of applying similar principles to the unemployed and small business owners.
The South Australian Department of Education recently announced a large contract with Civica Education for their VIEW cloud-based platform. Civica’s platform hopes to create a personalised and student-centric experience for students and parents alike to have more streamlined access to their child’s education.
The Queensland Government has also signalled cross-agency collaboration and user journey mapping as essential skills in the creation of a new Department of Transport and Main Roads supplier panel.