We hear a lot about agile software development being used in work with customers and end users. User stories are developed, coders and programmers turn them into prototypes, then testing is done to make sure the features work and do what is expected. But, agile is more than a way to develop software; it’s a mindset that favors iteration over knowing everything up front. So how can you have an agile mindset inside YOUR agency?
Government product managers sit at the intersection of three circles—business, design and technology. We play a key role in user experience (UX), because we are tasked with understanding users to build a product that is desirable and viable. This product could be a paper or online form, a website or a mobile app. Product management is different from project management. Product managers are the defenders and voice of the product’s customers, while a project manager is more concerned with balancing costs, scope and schedule issues.
There are several things federal agencies need to think about in the mobile space. Is my website responsive, so that consumers can view it on any device (desktop/laptop, tablet, smartphone)? Do I have mobile apps that fill citizen needs? But does texting have a place in the U.S. government, as we strive to serve citizens where THEY are? Here are at least 9 factors you need to consider, according to GovDelivery, and Forrester analysts Art Schoeller and Thomas Husson:
Get your customer personas right, and you will improve the customer experience (CX) for the rest of your audience. That’s advice Rick Parrish from Forrester Research gave in response to an audience question during the September 29 DigitalGov University webinar on the state of CX in the federal government. Your key customers are those that are most important to the organization, and often most difficult to serve, he explained.
Many of you are part of a government community. We lead a few of them here, and new ones are forming all the time. In fact, as I was writing this article, I stumbled upon a community for government Drupal users. A co-worker recently asked me for research on communities because she is trying to increase the sense of community among her program’s customers. Her question made me realize that the public and private sectors use communities in different ways.
Recently, Forrester Research analyst Leah Buley wrote a blog post and report that reminded me of our “what’s the diff?” article on customer experience vs. user experience. In them, she describes the difference between customer experience professionals (CX) and user experience professionals (UX). A Forrester survey found that about 40% of the time, CX and UX are formalized functions in a corporation. That’s good news, but they are only a joint operation about 10% of the time.
The federal government has IT challenges, and innovative federal projects are tackling those challenges head-on. As projects gain momentum, outside organizations have taken notice. Recently, Data.gov and DigitalGov’s Digital Analytics Program (DAP) were recognized by the American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council (ACT-IAC), among 30 other finalists for the Igniting Innovation Award. ACT-IAC’s 2015 Igniting Innovation Showcase and Awards recognized tools, solutions, services and programs developed by government and industry leaders.
A well-developed communications plan is critical to the success of a challenge competition, but too often it is one item managers leave to consider at the end of prize design. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Jarah Meador shared the Desal Prize plan and results in the September 16 webinar, “Why Your Gov Prize Competition Needs a Communications Strategy.” Consider the following advice and insight for help with planning your own challenge.
The U.S. government has launched more than 45 challenge and prize competitions so far in Fiscal Year 2014. What trends are we seeing? Well, the trend is…diversity. That might sound like an oxymoron, but federal agencies are really putting themselves out there, asking the crowd to help tackle a wide array of problems. Until August 3rd, NASA is seeking ways to improve email for astronauts on the International Space Station.
Got innovation? Well, we do! On Wednesday May 28, the Challenge.gov team gathered the Challenges and Prizes Community of Practice. The group covered two topics: Highlights from challenge competitions run in 2013. Concepts and tips for working with solvers to build teams. Cristin Dorgelo, Assistant Director for Grand Challenges at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, shared the results of a recent report on challenge and prize competitions conducted under America COMPETES Act Authority.
Interested in running a challenge and prize competition, but don’t know where to start? Well, here are all the resources GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies has to offer: 1) Challenge.gov. Put your agency’s challenges on this government-wide listing and learn about more than 300 public prizes run over the past four years. You can filter by agency and challenge type, such as software, ideas, designs. Built and hosted by GSA, you can also use it to run crowdsourcing competitions end to end.
I’m sure many of you have heard the expression “there’s an app for that.” Well, now you can say “there’s a schedule for that” as you plan challenge and prize competitions with your colleagues. In 2010, GSA was asked to build Challenge.gov and set up a schedule (a list of pre-negotiated contracts) that can help federal agencies run effective challenge and prize competitions. We answered the call with Schedule 541 4G.
You’ve run a challenge and prize competition, selected your winners, and distributed the prizes. If you think you’re done, guess again. There’s much more to challenge and prize competition success than getting a solution that solves your problem or meets the criteria. You need to measure success right after your challenge as you work to implement the winning solution. But you also need to measure success over time by keeping in touch with your winners and the other contestants.
Not sure how to craft a video challenge that will result in the creative solutions your agency is looking for? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Jason Crusan from NASA and Tammi Marcoullier from Challenge.gov joined a recent DigitalGov University webinar to share best practices and hurdles in running video competitions. We’ve recapped their advice and key takeaways here: Video challenges are a great way to engage the public around a visual story.
As you’re planning your challenge, you’ll want to review the relevant policies, memos and legislation pertaining to challenge competitions. The most important is the Prize Authority in the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act (PDF, 275 KB, 12 pages, August 2011) for it gives all executive branch agencies a baseline authority to run prize competitions. Be sure to consult with your agency’s attorneys on this to learn how your agency has decided to implement challenge competitions conducted under COMPETES at your agency.
Tips for Conducting an Ideation Challenge Examples of Ideation Challenges Criteria for Choosing an Ideation Platform Online Platforms and Tools Challenge and prize competitions are one tool that federal agencies use to drive innovation and solve mission-centric problems—whether technical, scientific, or creative. One type of competition is ideation, which allows you to collect ideas from a wide and diverse population to solve a particular business problem. Ideas could include suggestions, approaches, plans, proposals, designs, or other proposed solutions in written, graphic, or video form.
Challenge and prize competitions are one path that federal agencies take to drive innovation and solve mission-centric problems—whether technical, scientific, or creative. One type of competition is software and apps challenges, where solvers are asked to develop specific software or other code-based technical solutions, such as websites, mobile applications, or algorithms. Here you’ll find tips on running a software/apps challenge, resources, examples and information about online platforms you can use to host your competition.
What is a Challenge? In a challenge, a “seeker” challenges “solvers” to identify a solution to a particular problem, or rewards contestants for accomplishing a goal. The solutions may be: ideas, designs, logos, videos, finished products, digital games, or mobile applications. There are many challenge success stories in government: Challenges Conducted in 2011 Under America COMPETES Act Authority (PDF, 486 KB, 53 pages, March 2012) Challenges Conducted in 2012 Under America COMPETES Act Authority (PDF, 1,257 KB, 95 pages, December 2013) Challenges can offer incentive prizes that are either monetary or non-monetary.
Challenge and prize competitions are one path that federal agencies take to drive innovation and solve mission-centric problems—whether technical, scientific, or creative. Creative competitions include multimedia, photo, poster, and design competitions. Here you’ll find tips on running a creative challenge, resources, examples, and information about online platforms you can use to host your competition. Definition Creative competitions and challenges are about (1) seeking professional, high-quality products, (2) aimed at driving mass citizen awareness and engagement around the message in the challenge, or (3) both.
Challenge and prize competitions are one path that federal agencies take to drive innovation and solve mission-centric problems—whether technical, scientific, or creative. One type of competition is technology demonstration and market stimulation prizes, competitions that result in fully developed solutions to address market failures, solve significant problems facing society, or catalyze and demonstrate breakthrough technical innovations. Here you’ll find tips on running these types of prizes, resources, examples and information about vendors and partners who can help you design and administer your competition.
The right partner can be the key to a successful challenge competition. If you’re planning a challenge for your agency, you’ve probably had to ask: “Do we have the tools and capabilities to pull off this challenge on our own?” Why we form partnerships Often times, the answer is, “no.” But that shouldn’t stop you from pursuing solutions to your problems. Challenge managers weighed-in on partnerships at a recent community meeting, and here are a few of their tips on how agencies partner for success.
Apps challenges are a great way to spur innovation and help your agency meet its mission. But before you jump in, learn about how apps challenges work, to ensure yours is successful. Design Concept or Functioning App? What kind of product do you want from your apps challenge? A working app; or A concept for an app To widen the pool of entries and participants, don’t put limits on submissions.
The contest is over, but your work isn’t finished. Maintain a positive relationship with the community you’ve developed around your challenge. You will want to reach out to them in the future. Close the challenge and present awards Hold an awards ceremony to draw attention to the winners and to your challenge. The team behind the HHS myHealthyPeopleChallenge partnered with a prominent health conference to demo the winners’ applications.
Recruiting the right judges, writing clear rules, and ensuring the public can find your apps challenge online will help ensure success. Recruit the judges Reach out to those who have expertise in your topic or are influential in the area. Well-known judges will help you draw attention to your challenge, and the judges are likely to announce their participation through their networks. Judges for the HHS myHealthyPeople Application Developer Challenge included top officials at HHS, CDC, and NIH, and executives from influential health foundations and organizations.