Discovery phase

Duration: 8-weeks (January - March 2019)

The team began the project with a discovery phase, aligned with the GDS Service Standard, to explore the problem space and identify the needs of planning officers and planning managers.

Activities across the discovery phase included:

User research — carrying out contextual face-to-face interviews, shadowing planning officers using existing back-office systems, user journey mapping, user story formation and defining emerging design principles

Technical exploration — tracking data through the current planning application systems and processes, and investigating emerging data standards across other related systems and projects

Business case definition — exploring cost per application type across different councils and identifying opportunities based on time spent per application per team

Concept creation — facilitating co-design workshops with planning officers, creating a series of concept prototypes based on emerging user research, and testing concepts across London and non-London council teams to gather feedback

As part of user research, the team carried out:

  • 17 x user interviews with planning teams
  • 2 x existing system demonstrations
  • 3 x insight and co-design workshops
  • 4 x planning application process shadowing sessions
  • 12 x back-office concept prototype testing sessions

The team engaged with:

  • 7 x London borough councils (Southwark, Hackney, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets, Haringey, Lambeth and Islington)
  • 1 x Metropolitan district council (Leeds)
  • 2 x other councils (Canterbury and Huntingdonshire)

To conclude the discovery phase, the team identified and validated two propositions:

  1. A data-informed workflow
  2. A collaborative 3D workflow

See the full discovery report here.

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A user-centred Back-office Planning System (BoPS) for local authorities

BoPS is a collaborative local authority project, funded by the MHCLG Local Digital Fund and led by Southwark Council & Partners.

  1. About the project
  2. Project background
  3. Our approach
  4. User research
  5. Discovery phase
  6. Alpha phase
  7. Beta phase
  8. Weeknotes and sprint notes

If you are part of a local authority team or an interested party and would like to find out more about contributing, collaborating and/or our approach, please get in touch:

Project contact
Tom Buttrick, Southwark Council


Michelle Isme, Delivery Manager, Unboxed

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