Part three of our co-production series discusses a successful case study where an agile development framework and co-production techniques were used within the healthcare sector to improve processes and minimise disruption when moving to new systems.
“Adopting SAFe has set in motion the skill development and mindset for successful organisational change even as we scale to new programs, release trains, and people”
– Gary Dawson, Assistant Director, Solutions Delivery.
The NHS Blood and Transplant department (NHSBT) is a joint England and Wales Special Health Authority service. They deliver blood supply and solid organs to to hospitals nationwide, which requires safeguarding, collecting, testing, processing and storage that contribute to saving countless lives each year. With an increased need for this service, NHSBT recognised that effective technology was crucial for delivering a safe service for patients. Replacing an ageing infrastructure, migrating to cloud-based technology and replacing critical operational applications was the goal. This required careful consideration with regards to choosing the most efficient way of working, since so many other agencies were interdependent on the current infrastructure and the transformation was of a complex nature.
Adopting a scaled agile framework would allow them to implement the required systematic changes with minimal impact on the existing culture.
- NHSBT needed to improve business processes and supporting IT environment, realigning infrastructure to cloud based technology
- The project would also evaluate current IT systems in line with organisational needs
- NHSBT were challenged to incorporate new technical platforms and architecture with minimal risk to management – the threat of effects on the culture of the organisation
- The teams involved worked collaboratively to introduce solutions and training so internal changes were manageable and everybody was working from the same page
- Introduced SAFe – Scaled Agile Framework: hands-on software delivery
- A two day workshop to managers explained SAFe
- Management were given definitive roles within SAFe
- Planning sessions were organised across the larger organisation to explain SAFe to all employees
- Developed and worked effectively as a team and projects delivered on time
- Early delivery of significant business benefits
- Skillset and mindset for successful organisational change
Bitjam recognise the ways in which these modern working methods are highly adaptable and efficient, and have been adopting them across many projects for some time now. One example of where we used co-production with a client to create a project that was delivered on time and to a high standard, was Logga – a system for communicating timetables, homework and student progress in collaboration with Sixth Form College. We ran a number of design workshops with the students and set up beta testing groups via Android and the Apple app store. Meeting with teachers and admin staff weekly also contributed to the success of the project, as regular progress was updated and we were all given the opportunity to “give and get”. Read our case study for more details here.
In summary, the adoption of co-production within an agile framework for working, when applied within the public sector has some proven powerful benefits for improving efficiency with the NHS. It’s encouraging to see that the healthcare sector are trying and testing new and better ways of working in order to ultimately improve the end experience for patients, whilst upholding a duty of care to NHS staff who are subject to a fast-paced and evolving environment and need extra support from management during projects and changing processes.
In the second part of our co-production series we take a look at Agile Development, another productivity tool that assists in changing the work based mindset and encouraging a more efficient approach to organisational development and changes.
The Shift From Sequential Processes to Agile Methodology
Agile methods encourage teams to build quickly, test what they’ve built and iterate their work based on regular feedback. It was introduced as a modern alternative to the traditional waterfall model.
The waterfall model is a sequential design process, in which progress is seen as flowing steadily downwards. It was used in software development processes, through the phases of conception, initiation, analysis, design, construction, testing, production, implementation and maintenance. Because it was created in a time when no formal software development methodologies existed, this hardware-oriented model was simply adapted for software development
The agile process takes a different approach. Gathering requirements, planning, designing, building and testing are conducted simultaneously. Starting small in the discovery and alpha phases make way for growing the project into something large-scale.
- Productivity will improve as teams will quickly establish any challenges in certain areas of the project, since all elements are started together
- The focus on the end users contributes to speed, value and efficiency as the team continuously have the experience in mind
- Strong communication is required between stakeholders and business owners
- The business needs to be able to adapt to changes within internal processes with minimal disruption
Co-Production in Agile Software Development
To recap from our previous blog post, co-production creates a collaborative eco-system in which all parties receive a balanced “give and get”.Similarly to agile development, it contributes to service provisions, which can have both benefits and implications. Working with end users, for example clinicians, patients or carers who can contribute regular ideas and feedback from the very end of the UX can speed up process. Distribution of power to citizens means sharing of the decision making process could actually cause delays in project productiveness, as contributors may be unable to agree upon certain elements of the tasks.
The adoption of co-production within an agile framework has some powerful benefits, and is a great example of the changing mindset within the public sector. It also provides a morale boost for teams, as they are able to achieve their goals efficiently and effectively. This is why bitjam favour such working techniques, as everybody involved – from the teams to the end user – can enjoy better ways of working. In the last of our 3 part series on co-production, we’ll take a look at a case study within an NHS department that trialed co-production and scaled agile development, and the benefits and results they received.
This is part one of a series of three posts in which we will explore the concept of co-production and explain how this aligns itself to agile software development in healthcare technology design.
Already a valuable and productive approach to progressing ways of working within the public sector, it seems only natural that healthcare tech providers adopt the values of co-production when developing technological solutions.
What Is Co-production?
“Co-production is a key concept in the development of public services. It has the potential to make an important contribution to all of the big challenges that face care services” – Scie.org
According to research by the Health Evaluation Team at Coventry University, as part of The Health Foundation, “Collaborative co-production requires users to be experts in their own circumstances and capable of making decisions, while professionals must move from being fixers to facilitators. To be truly transformative, co-production requires a relocation of power towards service users. This necessitates new relationships with front-line professionals who need training to be empowered to take on these new roles”
In terms of healthcare, patients are much more than recipients of care, and can actually contribute to a high level of service throughout the experience. Patient empowerment is an integral part of delivering high-quality and efficient service as it allows the patient to feel confident and in control. At the same time, empowerment can also be applied to front-line staff who deal with high volumes of patients everyday. We discussed the benefits of promoting patient empowerment in our previous post How Healthcare Technology Providers Can Reach More People.
The Benefits of Co-production
- Creates better services for people – patients and users get the opportunity to have input in their care and service providers receive regular feedback to use to make necessary improvements
- Improved sense of community – helps people work better collectively
- Great results encourage other services to work together more often
- Works similarly to the “agile approach” as it encourages users to work in simpler yet innovative ways to produce better results
The Challenges of Co-production
- Opposition from people involved in the project could slow down progress
- Diverse views – partners from all walks of life and with different experiences might have different ideas about how the end product or service should look
- Trying to produce something that everybody agrees on may result in the project moving too far beyond the brief and not actually fulfilling the original idea
Co-production creates a collaborative eco-system in which all parties receive a balanced “give and get”. Similarly, “agile Development” is a process of “learning by doing” in which partners contribute their needs, and solutions are regularly fed back to promote a healthy and scheduled timeline of productivity. In part two of our co-production series, we will explore further the benefits and challenges of agile development and how co-production works in harmony with this teamwork-driven approach to working.