The strategic goal of any digital transformation effort should be to empower users.  More adaptive systems, improved integration of data for decision-making and a better user experience all support mission innovation and productivity.  Design thinking and service design are increasingly used to align digital transformation with user needs and positive mission outcomes.

This is the topic that Pablo Alejo, Group Technology and Growth Director for the Accenture Federal Digital Studio and I addressed at the recent Pega Government Empowered conference in Washington D.C.  Our audience of federal government leaders gave us a chance to share what we have learned and to explore possibilities for how Pega can help federal leaders transform mission services. In our keynote address, Pablo and I looked specifically at design-led digital transformation.

Meaning what, exactly? Pablo laid it out in his opening anecdote, which described how a group of well-intentioned engineers tried to create a more effective cooking stove for use by women in African villages. The new stove was not utilized by the villagers and while well suited for camping did not fit its intended purpose. Why? Because the outside experts never talked to the women to understand their specific needs and to involve them in the design process.

Similarly, to succeed, a design-led digital transformation must first and foremost be a partnership, a collaboration among designers, developers and end users.

There has been a lot of talk about this lately in the federal space, with an increased focus on concepts like “human-centered design” and the “human-centric approach.” But what do those terms really mean, and how do they apply to the actual user experience?

For government workers and citizens alike, design thinking is all about integrating the user experience into service delivery. Too often, service designers and IT developers are not in sync. It is easy enough to apply design thinking to the user interface – to make the screens accessible and intuitive. But when we go deeper, that surface experience does not always align with the business process. How does a government employee or citizen actually find information or perform a desired task?

Pablo and I encouraged federal agencies to go to that deeper level, to apply human thinking not just to the UI but across the spectrum of targeted mission services.

In our presentation, we described how Accenture Federal Digital Studio works with Pega delivery teams to empower service designers and developers to jointly follow the flow of work, without extensive training. I noted that the Design Studio team has done this with the government audience firmly in mind, embracing the mission-focused nature of the federal enterprise.

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Accenture’s Radica Sipcic, PhD. and Pablo Alejo present “Design-led Digital Transformation: How to Create Government Services People Want” at the Pega Government Empowered conference.

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This collaborative approach to design thinking works best when agencies put in place channels of communication to connect designers and users. They may embed developers within the front-end design teams, or they may establish processes and escalation paths within the agile development methodology to ensure that the business and design concerns are well represented within the development process.

The Pega Government Empowered conference highlighted the ways in which a platform approach can empower both government employees and citizen users. By enabling government to meet its mission needs, Accenture and Pega together are helping to drive a seamless and intuitive citizen experience.  I encourage you to watch our presentation to learn more.

Radica Sipcic, PhD

Senior Manager – Accenture Federal Services, Digital Platforms, Pega

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