In our introductory blog post we talked about the three areas of focus for this alpha phase of the Centre. These are the workstreams that I’m leading as programme manager- a squad for digital transformation, a knowledge hub and skills & capability.

We’ll be blogging about progress with all of these — they are all important parts of not just setting up the Centre but really demonstrating value to those delivering our public services in Wales and the people we deliver the services to.

Getting started

The first project to kick off has been our squad looking at digital transformation. One of the challenges for the public sector in Wales is finding the expertise and skills to start working in a different way and designing services with user need at the heart. Whilst our digital skills and knowledge hub projects will start addressing that, we also need to look at hands on engagement and skills transfer. We’re doing that by having an expert team, a digital transformation squad, who can work alongside teams in organisations to support them in developing services based on user centred service design.

Following a procurement exercise to find that expertise, our first squad is being run by Social Finance. Their role is to deliver rapid support to three local authorities to act as a test case for wider roll-out of this approach.

Picking a service

We decided to work with three local authorities, Neath Port Talbot (NPT), Torfaen and Blaenau Gwent, who don’t normally work together on these kinds of projects, to test the concept of collaborating in a fresh environment. The leads from each authority were keen to champion digital and new ways to improve services for their residents. The team, consisting of representatives from each local authority and the expert team from Social Finance has been looking at issues in how citizens access social care, specifically drilling down into issues in accessing adult social care, the lack of digital information provision and transactional service delivery. The team is being guided by the user research and data gathered during the early discovery phase.

This service was an ideal candidate for our first expert squad to support as:

· it has been badly affected by recent COVID issues and will continue to face challenges as pressure mounts on services

· it draws in wider dependencies and interactions with other partners such as health providers and third sector organisations

· it has potential for significant efficiency in terms of time and cost to deliver as a service

· it has potential for significant improvements in terms of user satisfaction and the perception of good service delivery

We also hope that what we learn from this project will be helpful for all local authorities and service providers in Wales and we’re keen to share that learning as things progress.

What’s next?

We’ve been working with the teams from the three local authorities for a few weeks now. It’s been fast, there have been challenges, but there’s been loads of learning too. In future posts we’ll be hearing from the project leads in each of the local authorities about being part of this first squad project and we’ll be sharing the learning from the discovery phase.

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