[Project Risks] [Project Stages] [Project Types] [E-gov risks]

HCD to mitigate e-gov Risks

The move to electronic service delivery by governments makes ease of access and understanding important aspects of citizenship (PIU, 2000).  User-centred design has now reached a level of definition that allows Human Factors and HCI to meet these challenges, i.e. there is an engineering statement of best practice against which its capability can be assessed. This statement is a powerful tool to introduce and train user centred design in organisations (through assessments).

This page uses the processes for Human-Centred Design set out in ISO TR  18529, the process model derived from the standard ISO 13407:1999 Human-centred design processes for interactive systems. The page identifies:

  • Public sector priorities and how they affect application of the standard,  i.e. the particular demands of public sector systems and e-government;
  • How application of the standard helps the public sector meet these priorities.

Ensure HCD content in systems strategy (HCD.1)

Process, Purpose and Outcome

Public Sector Priorities

To establish and maintain a focus on stakeholder and  user issues in each part of the organisation which deal with system markets, concept, development and support.

As a result of successful implementation of this process:

-  marketing will take account of usability, ergonomics and socio-technical issues

-  systems will be targeted to meet users™ needs and expectations

-  planners will consider stakeholder and organisation requirements in setting out systems strategy

-  systems will be more responsive to changes in users (their needs, tasks,  context, etc.)

- the  enterprise will be more responsive to changes in its users

- systems are less likely  to be rejected by the market

User-centred design high profile for e-Government.

'Usability, accessibility and trust'.

Citizen-centred Electronic Service Delivery seen  as essential to modernising government.

"The delivery of public services that are focused on the needs of customers and citizens is one of the central aims of the  Scottish Executive™s strategic vision for the modernisation of government. Developing a customer/citizen focused approach to the delivery of public  services is an integral element of key cross cutting initiatives such as Best Value, Community Planning and 21st Century Government. It is also a central  feature of a range of other initiatives in key policy areas such as health,  education, housing, planning and social justice." (GRF8)


Contribution by ISO TR 18529

represent  stakeholders

collect market intelligence

define and plan system strategy

collect market feedback

analyse user trends

Structure initiatives that relate to HCD.1, such as the people's panel, and  work by the PIU to identify future needs.

Structure user feedback and data collection with inclusion and other  initiatives

Offer a reference model for self-assessment and Process Improvement at Central, Departmental and Local Authority levels



Plan and manage the HCD process  (HCD.2)

Process, Purpose and Outcome

Public Sector Priorities

To specify how the human-centred activities fit into the whole system lifecycle process and the enterprise.

As a result of successful implementation of this process:

- the  project plan will allow for iteration and incorporation of user feedback

-  resources will be allocated for effective communication between the design team  participants

-  potential conflicts and trade-offs between human-centred and other issues will  be reconciled

-  human-centred processes will be incorporated into quality systems, procedures  and standards

- human-centred issues will be supported and promoted within the organisation.

"There are two main risks which departments have to manage if the benefits of e-government are to be achieved:

Citizen take up – The risk that groups in society  are excluded from the benefits for example those without access to a computer and the public see no advantage in accessing services electronically and take up is low.

Supply side barriers – The risk that departments do not provide the services citizens want to access electronically or fail to  take advantage of new technology to improve services and efficiency or that IT suppliers do not deliver the intended services to cost, time and quality requirements." (NAO)

Quality of planning and management very variable.

Organisational fragmentation can make this more difficult.

Multiple stakeholders makes planning and management more difficult.

Deadlines can become political and undermine user involvement and  feedback.

'Identifying users' a priority (OGC)

"..initiatives that span multiple agencies require a disproportionate amount  of political backing and funding. The result is that over 60% of e-government projects are doomed to failure." (Gartner Group)

"..departments may not provide the services that people want online, or may  fail to deliver projects on time, within budget and up to the desired quality. Departments need to change the way they operate to achieve e-government and this  requires strong leadership" (NAO)


Contribution by ISO TR 18529

consult  stakeholders

plan user  involvement

select human-centred  methods

ensure a human-centred  approach

plan HCD activities  manage HC activities

champion HC approach

support HCD

Compatible with OGC Gateway reviews - would help get a good result.

Avoid common failure modes found by NAO/PAC.

Manage inclusion agenda.

Address main risks to e-gov.


Specify the stakeholder and organisational requirements (HCD.3)

Process, Purpose and Outcome

Public Sector Priorities

To establish the requirements of the organisation and other interested parties for the system. This process takes full account of the needs,  competencies and working environment of each relevant stakeholder in the system.

As a result of successful implementation of the  process, the following will be defined:

-  required performance of new system against operational and functional objectives

-  relevant statutory or legislative requirements

-  co-operation and communication between users and other relevant parties

- the  users™ jobs (including the allocation of tasks, users™ comfort, safety, health  and motivation)

- task performance of the user when supported by the system

- work design, and organisational practices and structure

-  feasibility of operation and maintenance

- objectives for the operation and/or use of the software and hardware components of the system

Lots and lots of requirements.

  • Probity and traceability, audit trails

  • trust (should mean more than encryption, but accountability gets in the way).

  • Accessibility and needs of lobby groups.

  • Conflicted approach to risk and innovation.

  • Requirements of 'political' origin can get in the way.

  • Greater efficiency for internal users.

“quicker, more convenient and can be designed around the customer"

"Public Services Trust Charter ... emphasis on data management and data  quality. There is concern about the high error rate in some datasets and public  confidence can only be grown by solid assurances in these areas. From the point of view of bodies wishing to share data there is little point in sharing if  quality cannot be assured."

"..the public may see no advantage in accessing services electronically and take-up may be low. To overcome this departments need to set take-up targets and  provide incentives such as cost savings to users" (NAO)

"Ease of use – unless new services are easy to use and not complex there is a risk take up will be low for example, websites that are conservatively designed, use bureaucratic language and contain no incentives to explore the site will  remain largely unused."

" Benefits – the benefits for the public of interacting with departments on-line must be clear or else demand and subsequent take up will remain low."

"Re-engineer ways of working – departments may fail to re-engineer services and ways of working believing that technology induced change will be minimal and  that the benefits will be modest. In doing so they will fail to realise the  benefits of e-government in terms of improved efficiency and service delivery  because they will rely on existing increasingly inefficient channels of service  delivery."

"User focus – if departments do not sufficiently understand citizen needs and fail to provide services in the way that meets them it will lead to low take up  of services delivered on-line. For example if departments only replicate  existing services on-line they will fail to secure the improvements offered by  innovative on-line solutions to service delivery."

"Individual members of the public interact with and have an interest in the  work of public service providers in a number of different capacities and  "wearing a number of different hats" - as customers, citizens and members of  communities of place and interest. This is an important factor that needs to be  taken into account in developing effective mechanisms for seeking feedback from and consulting with members of the public." (GRF8)


Contribution by ISO TR 18529

clarify system goals

analyse stakeholders

assess H&S risk

define system

generate requirements

set quality in use objectives

Structure to key activity - mediate between political imperatives and  technical solutions.

QIU objectives can provide meaningful Performance Indicators. e.g. passport  processing time. Break out from transaction-level criteria. Support Public Service Agreements.


Understand and specify the context of use (HCD.4)

Process, Purpose and Outcome

Public Sector Priorities

To identify, clarify and record the characteristics  of the stakeholders, their tasks and the organisational and physical environment in which the system will operate.

As a result of successful implementation of this process the following will be achieved:

-  definition of the characteristics of the intended users

-  definition of the tasks the users are to perform

-  definition of the organisation and environment in which the system is used

-  implications for design made explicit

- the context of use is  available and used at all relevant points in the lifecycle.

Wide range of user types for e-gov including those with lack of access and ability to use IT "People have different needs. Departments, therefore, need to have a good understanding of the needs and  preferences of the users of their services. The elderly for example, have a range of requirements depending on their income, health, general well-being and where they live. Other groups such as students, children, parents, the unemployed and businesses will have different requirements. There is, however, considerable variation in the quality of information which departments have on  their key users and client groups for example on the frequency and ways in which citizens access government services." (NAO)

Expectations of multiple delivery channels.

Internal/external changes.

Changes between departments.

Need to find incentives for people to use ESD.

".. people without access to computers could be excluded from the benefits of  online services. Departments may be able to compensate for this by promoting key  services for specific groups, such as old people, that are provided in the same  place." (NAO)

"departments may increasingly need to use intermediaries such as banks, building societies, post offices, retail outlets to provide services to citizens  as people already have experience of transacting with these organisations on a day-to-day basis." (NAO)


Contribution by ISO TR 18529

identify user™s  tasks

identify user  attributes

identify organisational environment

identify technical environment

identify physical environment

Scenarios to give focus e.g. going to refuge to escape domestic violence.

Structure and manage the large number of personae and services.

Identify related services - avoid stovepipes and e.g. break out from government-only websites.


Produce design solutions (HCD.5)

Process, Purpose and Outcome

Public Sector Priorities

To create potential design solutions by drawing on established state-of-the-art practice, the experience and knowledge of the participants and  the results of the context of use analysis.

As a result of successful implementation of the process:

- the  whole socio-technical system in which any technical components operate will be  considered in the design

- user characteristics and needs will be taken into account in the purchasing of system components

- user characteristics and needs will be taken into account in the design of the  system

-  existing knowledge of best practice from socio-technical systems engineering, ergonomics, psychology, cognitive science and other relevant disciplines will be  integrated into the system

-  communication between stakeholders in the system will be improved because the  design decisions will be more explicit

- the  development team will be able to explore several design concepts before they settle on one

-  feedback from end users and other stakeholders will be incorporated in the design early in the development process

- it will be possible to evaluate several iterations of a design and alternative designs

- the  interface between the user and the software, hardware and organisational components of the system will be designed

- user training and support  will be developed.

Design guidance at widget level rather than task  level - now with Quality Framework.

Interface re-designed, but re-designed business processes harder to achieve.

Good commitment to prototypes and pilots.


Contribution by ISO TR 18529

allocate functions

produce task model

explore system design

develop design solutions

specify system and use

develop  prototypes

develop user training

develop user support

Structure prototyping.

Consideration of training.

Task model rather than graphics ideas or departmental structure etc. Break  out of traditional business processes.


Evaluate designs against requirements (HCD.6)

Process, Purpose and Outcome

Public Sector Priorities

To collect feedback on the developing design. This feedback will be collected from end users and other representative sources.

As a result of successful implementation of this process:

-  feedback will be provided to improve the design

- there  will be an assessment of whether stakeholder and organisational objectives have been achieved or not

-  long-term use of the system will be monitored.

In the case of evaluation to identify improvements to the system (formative evaluation), successful implementation of the  process will reflect:

-  potential problems and scope for improvements in: the technology, supporting material, organisational or physical environment and the training

- which  design option best fits the functional and stakeholder and organisational requirements

-  feedback and further requirements from the users.

In the case of evaluation to assess whether  objectives have been met (summativeevaluation), successful  implementation of the process will demonstrate:

- how  well the system meets its organisational goals

- that a particular design meets the human-centred requirements

- conformity to  international, national and/or statutory requirements.

Harmonisation with Best Value Performance Indicators.

Hard to bury skeletons.

"All government sector agencies should put in place  appropriate management information to regularly monitor usage of their Web sites and electronic services, and to 'play back' this information to the content  providers and divisions responsible for originating Web materials and Internet services." (NAO)

For service quality, almost all metrics at transaction level rather than  task.

For e-gov, metrics are implementation rather than usage (see NAO report).

“in return for additional resources delivery organisations are therefore being asked to agree stretching targets for the take-up of e-services.”

A systematic way of measuring customer feedback will be introduced for April  2001. This will be followed by a programme of work designed to achieve a year on  year increase in the numbers of our ‘customers™ who are "very satisfied" with  the information or support service provided. We are committed to publicising the results of customer feedback. For 1999-00 we replied to 85% of Ministerial  correspondence within 15 days. The target for 2001-02 is 90%, in 2002-03 91% and  in 2003-04 92%.

SOCITM and other customer satisfaction benchmarks done regularly but not as part of lifecycle

"Public sector organisations are less likely to analyse feedback from  customers to monitor trends or identify potential service improvements than to respond to individual cases." (GRF8)

"...surveys that are targeted upon people who have had recent experience of  using a particular service are more likely to provide information that can be  used to inform decision making. However, a relatively small proportion of  customer surveys are targeted on frequent or recent service users." (GRF8)


Contribution by ISO TR 18529

specify context of evaluation

evaluate for requirements

evaluate to improve  design

evaluate against system  requirements

evaluate against required practice

evaluate in use

HCD evaluation should meet the needs of both the system designers and the  political evaluation community.

Meaningful metrics. Usage not availability.

Interpretation of usage statistics. Feedback linked to lifecycle


Introduce and operate the system (HCD.7)

Process, Purpose and Outcome

Public Sector Priorities

To establish the human-system aspects of the support and implementation of  the system.

As a result of successful implementation of this process:

- the  needs of the stakeholders of the system will be communicated to the project

- the  management of change, including the responsibilities of users and developers,  will be specified

- the  support requirements of end-users, maintainers and other stakeholders will be addressed

- there  will be compliance to health and safety procedures

- local  customisation of the system will be supported

- user reactions will be collected and the resulting changes to the system reported back to stakeholders.

Change management within Civil Service - large  changes to structure, market, information flow.

E-gov roll-out high profile and can't be seen to fail.

"Partnerships with other organisations are needed to deliver integrated IT services"

"The risk of IT-enabled change adversely affecting  existing services requires careful management "


Contribution by ISO TR 18529

manage change

determine impact

customisation and local design

deliver user training

support users

conformance to ergonomic legislation



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