Government employees encounter problems to solve on a daily basis. Maybe you need to define and implement new services for people eligible for a government program, or identify a process improvement that saves time, money, or resources. Often, these solutions involve software products. We’ve seen our fair share of failed government projects in the news. We’ve also seen many great digital services that serve citizens so well that they become a reminder that the government is on your side. In our experience, these successes result from project teams shifting their mindset to product thinking.
Product thinking focuses on outcomes—what happens when problems are solved—instead of outputs. Outputs—the things teams produce, such as software features or product releases—are important, but they are not the same as outcomes which directly relate to achieving goals. It doesn’t matter how many features that were built, or deadlines that were adhered to if, at the end of the day, somebody using the software product can’t access the government service they need (e.g., sign up for health insurance coverage, apply for disability benefits, or help an employee serve a beneficiary).
Lauren Peterson is a Senior Product Manager at Nava PBC, building services that help the government serve people. She’s currently working with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as they implement Paid Family and Medical Leave. Previously, she worked on tools to improve how the Department of Veterans Affairs processes appeals, a process that currently takes years. She loves live music, ice cream, and the golden hour.
Skippy Williams is a product manager at 18F, a digital consultancy within the Federal government’s Technology Transformation Service. He has previously managed hardware and software products spanning across the corporate, nonprofit, and government sectors. His work included delivering online access to video records for thousands of government agencies at Granicus and providing nonpartisan information on elections in California through Voter’s Edge.
This talk is hosted by the 18F Product Chapter and Digital.gov. The 18F Product Chapter is a team within GSA’s Technology Transformation Services that serves as product managers for our partners across the federal government.