Digital Service Design – From User Stories through Digital Storytelling

An essential aspect of Agile Development is that it is linked to a robust Service Design methodology, to provide a control system that ensures the software being built meets user needs.

For example the Dept of Transport shares an ongoing blog series on their use of the practices to develop their digital services.

The Scottish Government defines ‘SAtSD‘, the Scottish approach to Service Design, explaining the method on their blog. Social Security Scotland has engaged Sopra Steria’s service design team, and it’s a core goal of the National Digital Platform team.

Digital Service Design can be seen as a component of Digital Business Architecture when considering the challenge of scaling Agile across large enterprise organizations, where it provides the framework for linking service design activities to business architecture and transformation ROI planning.

User Stories

The building block of this activity are ‘User Stories’. documents a guide for how to write them, and Registers of Scotland offer this example. The Agile Modeling guide describes a detailed analysis of their role within Agile practices, within a context of Stakeholder Engagement.

Digital Service Design

These are only the building block, a critical success factor is a holistic design process that focuses on the entire user journey.

It must encompass all variables within the user experience, for example Designing for Irrational Users, and fully understanding how best to integrate technologies like self-service chatbots et al.

Service Design as Product Management

An effective way of encouraging a holistic design process is to treat Service Design as Product Management; DZone explores how this synchronizes the different team roles, and in this video the DWP Digital Academy asks ‘What Makes a Good Product Owner‘?

This team work is the key ingredient for success, especially when combined with the right tool set.

These tools and practices facilitate the most important control system dynamic of gathering feedback from the frontline users, marrying these to the work products and prioritizing them accordingly. This is the core features of ‘PLM’ (Product Lifecycle Management) apps like UserVoice.

Another option is Aha, and in their blog they explore the comparison between Scrum Master and Product Manager and how they work together.

The combination can underpin productive user engagement exercises, such as ‘Sprints’. For example Charity News describes how they can be structured as a product innovation process.

Digital Storytelling

In addition to these structured work management tools another key capability now possible with the plethora of rich media content devices and tools is the idea of ‘Digital Storytelling’ as a method of user research.

Jennifer Jones offers this excellent in-depth article that explores what’s involved, explaining how ubiquitous resources like smartphones, social media and video make it possible to gather rich insights from users that go far beyond one dimensional user stories.

She references case studies like Mindwaves, a mental health community news programme in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, who use both creative writing, amateur journalism and photography and a technique called ‘social reporting’ to support users of their service explore positive stories of mental health recovery.

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