During discovery we carried out user research with the Standards Assurance team at GDS, who are responsible for approving digital and technology spend across government. We also ran interviews and contextual studies with assurance teams in government departments and found that users’ needs and the process for approving spend have evolved over time, but the tools and systems to support them haven’t.

The current tool used to log and track cases is clunky and difficult to use. We found that teams in GDS and departments have created their own shadow systems and workarounds to do their work. As a result, there’s no single source of truth for spend requests, as data lives in so many different places and in different formats. It’s therefore difficult for users to share data, reconcile information and carry out tasks such as producing reports.

At the end of discovery, we held a co-design workshop with users and stakeholders to sketch ideas and produce prototypes. This left GDS with a set of actionable findings and something tangible to test with users at the start of alpha to validate the hypotheses we came up with.

After a successful bid, dxw was awarded the alpha project, which has focussed on building, testing and iterating a prototype of what a new portfolio assurance tool could look like. We split the work into a series of design sprints which focussed on a different user group that we identified in discovery. This enabled us to cover a broader scope and look more closely at the competing user needs we identified. Through our work, we’ve helped GDS define a vision for the new tool and created a plan for moving the project into a beta phase.