Earlier this year we set out the importance of the core proposition of the organisation: we help people to solve a problem. This applies to the great new content that the digital team have been working hard on, but it is also fundamental to how we develop the replacement of the Citizens Advice case management product, currently known as Petra.
I was recently asked by a colleague what I was working on and I explained it was ‘a case management web site for a charity’. I got a blank-faced expression. Really, it is better described as ‘software to help advisers help people’ and keeping this in mind should ensure we focus on getting the important features working well for users.
We have a new agile team focussed on making case management a great product for advisers and Citizens Advice. We’re calling this product Casebook. I’d like to introduce the team:
Chris McCormack → Product Lead
Alastair Pugh → Delivery Manager
Kal Chottai → UX Lead
Mauro Donadio → Senior Software Developer
Dominik Sipowicz → Senior Software Developer
Karl Goldstraw → Digital Designer
Chris, Kal and Mauro in a planning workshop
A Minimum Viable Product
Our focus is to deliver a ‘minimum viable product’, or MVP. It encapsulates the minimum set of user needs and features and nothing more. Some may wonder why we are initially aiming for ‘minimum’ rather than ‘maximum’ – shouldn’t a brand new case management tool do everything people wish of it from the outset? We don’t think so, and here’s why:
MVP is predominantly about prototyping and testing core features on users swiftly. This is a key principle of Agile product development and it means you should get at least some good new stuff quickly. Users can then try it and feed back on it. We take those learnings and hone each feature, testing as we go and iterating as required. The end result should be functionality that works reliably and efficiently.
As our Chief Digital Officer Bea explained at Future Forums this month, we start with an MVP so that we can test and learn quickly and cheaply. It stops us spending time and money on features that aren’t right. We’ll be testing features at the earliest stage, so if you’ve signed up to be a tester don’t expect perfect products – they may well be wrong – but allow us to design the right thing with advisers and chief officers, our primary users. If you haven’t signed up, please do get involved.
An MVP for Citizens Advice is also about acknowledging the limitations of the existing product Petra and making bold steps to remedy them.
There are familiar themes around performance, intuitive experiences, integrating with advice sites intelligently and moving away from legacy products and technologies that are beyond redemption. We’ll be keeping these themes front of mind as we work on the new solution.