5 minute read

How iESE is using design principles

iESE has been using design principles to inform its own product design. Here we look at how design has helped shape two upcoming products - a new Case Management System for the social care sector and Alchemy, an online networking platform for public sector professionals.

When iESE was imaging how a new Case Management System (CMS) could revolutionise social work and the way client records are kept it realised input from a wide range of stakeholders was key.

Using expert help from service designer Molly Balcom Raleigh, iESE sought to involve users from all areas of care service delivery and create a set of design principles which would underpin the project. According to Balcom Raleigh, if you get the design principles right, the work required to create the product or service should unfold from the principles and provide high-level metrics for evaluating the work because they allow you to assess whether you achieved your goals.

“The design principles capture what you understand from your user research as most important to achieve and embody in the service or product you’re creating. In articulating those aspirations, you are also encoding the ability to evaluate the outcomes,” she explains.

The reimagined CMS currently being designed and built by iESE aims to give access to real time information from multiple stakeholders, including the recipient of care, allowing social workers to make more informed decisions, spend less time inputting data and more time with their clients.

“Our design principles have been developed through an iterative process of understanding the problem space, and the key to that is including as many stakeholders in the problem space as possible,” she explains. “You can’t really have design principles from three people sitting at a table, they are the accumulated wisdom of the user research that is understood through collecting and analysing many perspectives on the problem.”

There are currently four underlying design principles for the CMS (see the slides opposite). They are top level statements, which anyone working on the project should be able to remember, and then there is a further explanation which drills down to the next level and what they mean. The four top level statements are:

1. CMS 2030 is a trusted partner in the work.

2. CMS 2030 tells the right stories.

3. CMS 2030 empowers people who use care services.

4. CMS 2030 supports social workers, as they are, and as they will be.

With wider stakeholder involvement being a key factor of design success, Balcom Raleigh encouraged all readers to engage with the CMS project. “More voices included in the development will result in a better product we can bring to the market. I know everyone is busy but CMS 2030 is a really hopeful and significant project in terms of the positive change we want to bring to the sector,” she adds.

Design methodologies: Alchemy

While design principles look at the wider underlying goals, iESE has also been using design methodologies to help create new products such as Alchemy, a social networking platform to help public sector professionals seek support and share knowledge with colleagues from other organisations.

Sherif Attia, Design and Research Lead at iESE, explained how iESE used design thinking to create Alchemy. “We did a five-day design sprint where we were looking at the problem relating to executive support. We started with a problem definition, took it into a design sprint and then used a series of techniques and strategies drawn down from the human-centred design school of thinking. Some of the early ideas for Alchemy were like ‘Transformation Tinder’, the idea being that if you had a particular issue you could articulate that and get matched with someone who could help solve your problem,” Attia explained.

The idea of a design sprint is that you rapidly work through a problem and answer a critical question. “What we did was talk about the problem from different perspectives. The point is to get as many different stakeholders impacted by the problem to the table to describe the experiences and issues they have faced in the past. From that we used different techniques that helped identify a solution. The techniques we used included workshop-style exercises such as Crazy Eights, where you fold a piece of paper into eight and spend eight minutes drawing eight distinct ideas or solutions to tackle your challenge,” he added.

This way of working on products and services is one iESE is embracing. Attia says it allows an organisation to rapidly try out ideas and see what works, learn from it, develop it, or move on. “There are so many approaches and techniques within the service design school and way of thinking. We are trying to develop and evolve that methodology internally, so not only doing design sprints but using a variety of workshops and techniques to achieve different things.”

iESE is bringing some of these techniques into its development of existing products too, such as CareCubed, for which it holds regular customer workshops and conducts live prototype testing.

• The Alchemy product and CMS are still in development. To find out more contact: Sherif.Attia@iese.org.uk

Suggested design reading:

- Designing for Services: Key Issues and New Directions

- Good Services: How to design services that work 

- A Civic Technologist's Practice Guide The Service Innovation handbook