Legacy vs transformation: the challenges of user-centred design

In today's rapidly evolving digital landscape, public sector leaders are increasingly focused on User-Centred Design (UCD) and the broader need to bring citizen experience to the heart of public services. DDaT leaders across Whitehall and beyond are tasked with aligning strategic organisational and technical objectives with actions that directly impact both citizens and employee experiences. 

But how well is the UK public sector doing in turning that intent into reality in the design and delivery of services? New research conducted jointly by Government Transformation Magazine and Adobe highlights several key areas where significant improvements are needed to fully realise this vision. 

The report - State of Digital Government - includes exclusive quantitative research, supported by interviews and commentary with government leaders. Key findings include:

A shift in focus is required

Despite the growing emphasis on UCD among senior leadership, our research reveals  substantial investment continues in maintaining existing systems. This indicates a critical need for realignment to ensure that strategic objectives are closely matched with actions that directly benefit citizen outcomes and positive employee experiences.

Data strategy realignment

The ambition to deliver user-centric services is often hampered by challenges in data management, sharing, and governance. Addressing these foundations is crucial for unlocking the full potential of user-centric public services.

Technological and process modernisation

High-maintenance legacy technology and the persistence of paper-based processes continue to impede public sector transformation. A strategic pivot towards modernising these areas is essential for reducing operational inefficiencies and better aligning with the goal of improving citizen experience.

The quantitative research in the report paints a similar picture, with DDaT leaders conflicted between ambitions to drive service transformation but hindered by the burden of legacy technology. Key statistics include:

  • 36% of Directors say that user-centred design is a bigger priority than budget or policy.
  • 39.6% of Directors say this focus on data is driven by their desire to support better service design.
  • 49.1% of Directors cite data, data governance, and structuring data as their "digital priority".
  • 50.4% of respondents spend more than 40% of their time and budget on maintaining legacy technology.

Download your copy of the report by clicking the banner below.

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