Improving public services and pathways through co-design

Meaningfully engaging with communities and public service providers to design new services

The challenge

There are several key drivers for improving services and redesigning pathways:

Public service needs assessments and equity audits may highlight services in specific communities and contexts that require focused attention.

Benchmarks and performance indicators may identify sub-optimal outcomes where the social return on investment is poor.

Public service consumers may provide service feedback and complaints.

Public service professionals may flag opportunities for improved integration and opportunities to apply new information technologies.

Co-design brings together the right stakeholders in a coordinated program to improve public services. This ensures that:​​

  • There is a full understanding of the existing public service pathways from all perspectives, the intended improvements in outcomes and value.
  • There is balanced attention on the public service delivery, the consumer experience, the professional experience and the strategic ‘fit’ within the overall system blueprint.
  • The case for change can be communicated to different audiences with confidence.
  • The new pathway is ‘owned’, which is a crucial enabler for decommissioning the legacy pathway.
  • The resulting service specification has the defined outcomes and performance indicators that matter most to the people using the service and their improvement trajectory can be tracked.

Co-design is not straightforward. It requires a willingness to listen to messages that may be different to what was expected.

Co-design should never be used to endorse a service pathway that has been developed by professionals and commissioners at the exclusion of public service consumers.

Co-design should not shy away from discussions about priorities, relative investment and the recognition that demand will typically exceed the resources that can be invested.

Public service consumers involved in co-design will expect and demand a mature dialogue that is framed in the realities of public service funding.

It also needs to be culturally responsive to recognise that public services requires a holistic response.

What we do

We apply a systematic approach to co-designing public services that blends diverse engagement techniques

We bring together a range of co-design techniques to build public services that resonate with consumers and the professionals who work together to run the service.

Co-design with public service consumers and professionals generates honest feedback and innovative ideas on how to improve the service

Listening events facilitate a discovery of the status quo, the drivers for change, the inefficiencies and fragmentation in existing pathways.

These listening events are shaped according to the cultural context. They use ‘hard’ analysis of activity, finance, access and outcomes. This ‘hard’ analysis is combined with ‘soft’ data about consumer experiences, complaints and the impact of sub-optimal pathways on consumers and public service professionals.

Our consumer engagement techniques include gathering consumer stories, mapping consumer journeys, conducting experience surveys and developing consumer personas.

Co-design with public service professionals and system partners ensures robust services are developed based on expertise and evidence

To develop robust services, we conduct literature and evidence reviews, and run interviews and focus groups with the professionals involved in running the service.

We engage closely with consumers and professionals to develop a strong public service logic model which underpins the new public service pathway.

An example co-design plan is shown below:

  • The new public service pathway describes the desired ‘inputs’, ‘activities’, ‘outputs’ and ‘outcomes’ so there is a confident platform for implementation using procurement, decommissioning and change management.
  • Significantly, it identifies the key dependencies requiring support from information technology, data management, workflow and workforce.
  • It also provides the means to evaluate success from the different stakeholder perspectives and track the improvement trajectories compared to the intended outcomes and identified deficiencies in the legacy pathway.

Get in touch to discuss how we can support you to co-design public services