Client: DPC    |    Timeframe: 6 months    |   My role: User Researcher   
Team: Product owner, technical consultant, UI designer, PM     |    Tools: MIRO, Figma, Teams, Forms
I was employed on the project as a User Researcher to join the efforts in the discovery and implementation of a new digital briefing system for the DPC.  
Working alongside the product owner and UI designer, we facilitated research workshops and interviews, created design prototypes and continuously validated them with our end users to ensure the launch solution was intuitive to the user and efficiently tackled the original problem​​​​​​​
Due to the lack of pre-knowledge of government systems and an absence of desk research or competitor analysis, the initial research demanded extensive pre-work and engagement with stakeholders and experts to delve into the intricate process. The research program was designed to incorporate a combination of more technical requirements gathering with user needs, before validating the solutions that brought the two together. 
1. Stakeholder vision & success workshops
The project began with a series of vision and success workshops. These workshops provided the true vision for the project, the background to the problem and the objectives that we truly want to achieve. The sessions aligned the project team towards a shared goal so that everyone understood the pain points that we were trying to achieve. 
2. Existing data and system immersion
To equip ourselves with a solid foundation, and take advantage of research already done. I immersed myself in existing process maps, existing systems used, personas, guides and documents. I also had the chance side by side with some members of the team in the office to observe, and get background information from the project team.
3. Discovery workshops and interviews
These sessions allowed us to dive into the project's complexities, spending valuable time with individuals from various roles involved in the process. By capturing the details of all micro-processes and understanding each participant's role, interactions, and responsibilities, we gained insight to create a full process map. 
We asked users about their experience with the current system, their pain points and needs for the new system. They also were asking to complete a SUS score survey for the existing process to get a baseline metric. These interviews and workshops were conducted continuously, both formally and informally, throughout the project duration. This iterative approach enabled us to refine our understanding, address knowledge gaps, and continually inform our user story backlog.
4. Current state journey mapping
Compiling the steps onto a journey map allowed us to humanise the process by documenting the user's emotions, pain points, and opportunities. We took this shared visual into an interactive workshop to collaborate on the 'thinking, feeling, and doing' section to get a closer grasp on the current experiences of users. From the journey map, we could generate further user stories for our backlog focusing on the user output as opposed to the system requirement. 
5. Prototype usability testing
As the designer completed user journey concepts, I created clickable prototypes and usability tested them on both desktop and mobile in online sessions with the end-users. Findings from the usability tests were analysed together by the design team and tasks were made for the designer to make changes. 
As the designer created a whole comprehensive design system and templates before starting the screens, he was able to finish a full user journey at a time. This iterative process meant that we could consolidate the timeline and test user journeys as we went. 
Some of the UX changes found during these sessions included:
- An overuse of abbreviations meant that new starters couldn't follow the process without referencing other materials. 
- Simplified and conversational language on form field labels rather than using legacy ones that made no sense without prior knowledge (or a tooltip added when unavoidable) 
- Some supporting text being too small on mobile and not readable by some users.
- Making the sort and filter button easier to find in a more conventional place. 
6. Agile continuous usability testing
After designs were tested, altered and signed off, user stories were added into development sprints. As the front-end of the website took shape, we conducted user testing on the in-development site. The rapid testing rounds were syncronised with the agile sprints, ensuring the signed-off proposed changes were ready for the planning session for the next sprint. This allowed us to incorporate user testing into the build phase, validating screens, interactions and any changes made as we went, refining the solution based on user feedback. 
Some of the UX changes found during these sessions included:
- The save progress interaction wasn't consistent when moving through the sections (some auto-saved, some you clicked save, some you saved after filling in a pop-up) so people often moved on without saving
- The 'add document' and 'attach to brief' process was overly complicated and users often got lost. 
DPC Design Sprint Process - Image shows the 3 week sprint cycle of research

The 3-week sprint turnaround schedule

Outputs & Reflections
Since its launch in November 2021, ABC has been rolled out to 1,250 employees with 2000+ briefs successfully passed through the solution. The implementation has significantly increased the speed and efficiency of handling briefs and correspondence, cutting the number of steps in the briefing process from 51 to 20 and for the first time allowing the automation of time-intensive manual tasks.

ABC was awarded the ‘Service Design’ award at the Victorian Premier’s Design Awards in March 2022. The solution commended for its flexibility it now provides for employees, as well as transforming how the department can manage the thousands of matters each year. Read the full article here.
Reflection 1: Rapid continuous research
This project was a learning experience that taught me the value of rapid research and how to organise my workload to accommodate it. 
Rapid research meant that I could test portions of the real website and its interactions on different devices (rather than flat prototypes) and stay agile to test specific processes and validate changes as we needed. 
To keep the pace, I had to streamline my analysis and informalise my presentations with the project team to be more interactive workshops with actionable outcomes. This in-sprint turnaround involved meticulous organisation; preparing and recruiting for the next sprint while still executing the current sprint.

Reflection 2: Ideation
When researching products for the public, relatability comes naturally. We draw from personal experiences, adding pre-context to our research questions. For example, I’ve hired a car before, I’ve booked a holiday before, I could add some pre-context to my research questions and understanding. However, did I ever go through the 15 steps of implementing a government brief before? No, not even close.
This project pushed me into the realm of service design, demanding extensive pre-work and engagement with stakeholders and experts. I had to fully immerse myself into the team and work hard to cultivate empathy. 

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