GovWire

Apply for a large countryside productivity grant alpha assessment

Government Digital Service

April 8
14:20 2021

From: Central Digital & Data Office (CDDO)
Assessment date: 28/10/2020
Stage: Alpha
Result: Not met
Service provider: Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Service description

Farmers and rural businesses can apply for grants for projects that improve irrigation or manage slurry. They can get up to 40% of the project costs and receive grants from 35,000 to 1 million. The application process is long and complex. This service allows farmers to:

  • Check if they are eligible to apply
  • Create and send an expression of interest

The expression of interest allows users to outline the benefits of their project. EOIs are assessed and compared with other projects. Those invited to make a full application can be confident that it is worth the time and effort.

Overview of service users

  • Farmers/land managers
  • Agents acting on behalf of farmers/land managers
  • Internal back office staff

1. Understand users and their needs

User research assessor

Decision

The service did not meet point 1 of the Standard.

What the team has done well

The panel was impressed by:

  • the team had a good process in place for testing their prototype. The team is clearly involved in observing research sessions and partaking in analysis using Miro
  • user research is clearly influencing iteration of the design (such as the example shown around information architecture).

What the team needs to explore

The changes in people within the team has clearly had an impact on the amount of research the team has been able to do, and the team was aware that they hadnt yet got to the saturation point where they were seeing the same findings coming up again. Overall the amount of research done for both discovery and alpha felt light.

Before their next assessment, the team needs to:

  • do more discovery research to expand out the user needs, and build a deeper understanding of the different types of farmers or agents in particular
  • do further research with agents to better understand how they manage applications for farmers and get them the funding they are seeking. For example do they apply for multiple schemes or one project (i.e. applying for both small grants and large grants to get money on the same project?)
  • research with RPA staff to better understand how the assessment process will work, and how the EOI speeds up and helps the assessing/decision-making side of the process. Are there further changes to the EOI form or process that will really help them?
  • further to the research gaps already identified around digital inclusion, assisted digital and accessibility needs - also consider what devices (i.e. mobile, tablet) people are using to find out about, as well as do their EOIs, and ensure you are testing on these devices
  • consider supplementing the existing recruitment process with other means (i.e. recruitment agency) to find farmers (particularly prospective applicants) who know less about the process of getting grants, and are potentially less engaged with Defra or the RPA.

2. Solve a whole problem for users

Lead assessor, particularly with design and research input

Decision

The service did not meet point 2 of the Standard.

What the team has done well

The panel was impressed that:

  • consideration had been given to what the end to end journey was, and whilst waiting for the strategic solution, there was a potential immediate opportunity to improve the outcome for users through expression of interest and eligibility checker
  • whilst working within a particularly narrow scope, that is far from ideal but the panel can understand, and given immovable constraints, the service team members have worked across boundaries to share/gain knowledge on other aspects of the wider programme, and that there is now a central team in place doing more work on the end-to-end across grants etc.

What the team needs to explore

Before their next assessment, the team needs to:

  • build on the recommendations under point 1 to demonstrate that this tactical service is enabling all farmers intended to benefit from large grants to reach that goal with greater ease. Its worth better understanding their context and what it means for the service. Support of family members for some farmers was pointed at, which is good. It appeared the context on the agent side of things could be more developed - why agents are used, what the impact of this would be on consideration and EOIs
  • develop a good understanding of all the touch points across the public sector (and with other actors) that applying for a Large Grant could generate, and whether aspects of this service could improve those other touch points and vice versa. For example, if the same information is being reused elsewhere or could be used here
  • refocus on users most likely to struggle with the service as this will help build a service that works for everyone. Not having researched enough with users with assisted digital and accessibility needs (which could be high) means opportunities to build the service from the ground up with these needs in mind could be missed, and this could cause issues for many actual users.

3. Provide a joined-up experience across all channels

Lead assessor, particularly with design and research input

Decision

The service did not meet point 3 of the Standard.

What the team has done well

The panel was impressed that:

  • the team had developed an outline of the end-to-end process that this tactical service fits within
  • guidance around the schemes has been rethought and prototyped within GOV.UK.

What the team needs to explore

Before their next assessment, the team needs to:

  • test the overall experience moving between channels (ie. from knowledge of the scheme, through to submitting an EOI, receiving feedback and then completing the actual application) even if the primary focus of the service is a smaller part of that journey
  • develop a deeper understanding of users likely to struggle with the digital channel to ensure they can still get a consistent experience
  • investigate ways for the whole process to feel designed as one service, such as reviewing and rewriting the final application form and correspondence templates
  • include back office staff in the design process, making sure that the information they need is captured in the EOI and application process.

4. Make the service simple to use

Design assessor

Decision

The service met point 4 of the Standard.

What the team has done well

The panel was impressed that:

  • high quality prototypes had been made for 2 of the grant journeys, following the GOV.UK Design System
  • iterations had been made based on user research
  • content pages had been included to explore the split between guidance and service
  • a language guide has been created to keep terms consistent throughout the service.

What the team needs to explore

Before their next assessment, the team needs to:

  • continue to iterate the 2 journeys that have been created based on thorough user research with a wide range of participants
  • design and iterate the remaining 4 journeys
  • include the policy team in the research and design of the question protocols, changing policy where the user need is unclear or creating pain points (such as need for planning permission before applying for the grant), or the information farmers need to supply makes the service hard to use
  • continue to research with a wide range of agents to make sure the service works for them
  • get regular feedback from back office staff to make sure the information being captured is useful in making decisions about grants, and iterate the question protocols
  • explore, design and iterate solutions for save and return
  • work with GOV.UK to design the content around the service, including exploring the use of step by step naviga

Related Articles

Comments

  1. We don't have any comments for this article yet. Why not join in and start a discussion.

Write a Comment

Your name:
Your email:
Comments:

Post my comment

Recent Comments

Follow Us on Twitter

Share This


Enjoyed this? Why not share it with others if you've found it useful by using one of the tools below: