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Government Digital Service Guidelines (Beta Version) 

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The Guidelines are for government to develop user-centric digital services and completely evaluate matters needing attention during digital service life cycle. The purpose is to let users obtain government services in the most convenient, fast and simple way and encourage them to employ digital service with top priority. There are 13 clauses in the Guidelines as follows:

1: Understand users’ needs

Identifying and understanding your target users (including any users who may need assisted digital support) is a critical task for services innovation. That is, developing a deep knowledge for what users’ needs are and what are the critical intentions that users are going to achieve through employing the services.

The better you understand your users, the more able you are to design and build a service that works well for them. When designing a government service, always start by learning who are the target users (including various stakeholders), and know the ways the service will fit into their lives. Service must fulfill what users need instead of what the service recipients or providers want. Furthermore, the assisted digital supports for any user who needs them must be considered. Do ongoing research with users to explore their needs and to continually improve service.

2: Have a multidisciplinary collaboration mechanism

A collaboration mechanism for building a government service needs to be organized. The mechanism must have professionals with various roles and skills. The service owner must have suitable ability and decision-making authority to deliver on all aspects of a government service project.

To continually design, build, maintain and improve services (also called ‘life cycle’) and to allow fast decision-making, a collaboration mechanism must be organized. This mechanism should be led by a suitably skilled decision-maker and it must involve multidisciplinary, cross-department communication and cooperation. Members of this mechanism must have various different skills and roles to ensure a real multidisciplinary cooperation mechanism can be established. 

3: Plan multiple service channels

Ensure that users who employ the digital service can also employ other available channels if needed, without repetition or confusion.

To allow the users to switch successfully between different service channels, attention should be paid to the consistency of different service channels, in particular switching between non-digital and digital service channels. You need to make sure that users’ switching between different channels, if needed, is as smooth as possible. Also, allow users to employ our services through different devices and channels, including computer, mobile device, on the telephone or at the counter.

4: Adopt continuous improvement method

Continue to improve service through Rapid Prototyping, Iterative and incremental software development way.

In response to technological innovation, policy challenges, and changes in users’ needs, it is advisable to consider users’ need change, service overall framework, and technical resource maturity at various stages of the service life cycle. Adopt iterative development procedures and continually incorporate users’ feedback to quickly respond and refine services.

5: Ensure the resources required for the service

Considering the integrity of the development of digital service, it’s necessary to ensure the resources required for the service, such as manpower, equipment, funds, technology, and to assess the inclusion of relevant civil resources. 

To provide various resources that meets the service life cycle, it’s necessary to ensure sufficient resources, which can include public-private cooperation mechanism (not limited to outsourcing bidding), and assess the introduction of non-governmental resources, to achieve sustainable development of services.

6: Evaluate tools and systems

Evaluate which tools, systems and infrastructure are used to meet the requirements of each stage of the service life cycle.

To promote efficiency in building service and continual improvement, it is better to adopt appropriate tools, systems and infrastructure at each stage of the service life cycle, including assessing the extent to which the risks and limitations are acceptable, avoiding contracts that lock in and stop improving service, evaluating the use of highly stable open source tools and systems, and considering the system environment commonly employed by users, to sustainably support service management and improvement.

7: Pay attention to information security, privacy and convenience

At each stage of the service life cycle, information security, personal privacy and service convenience should be paid attention to when collecting, processing and using data.

To maintain information security, protect personal privacy and consider service convenience simultaneously, agencies should evaluate service risk and check information system regularly. Besides, taking appropriate measures and eliminating potential threats can ensure users employ the service with peace of mind.

8: Give priority to openness

Adopt a reusable solution that meets the open standards and introduce private innovation capability to reduce the overall cost of digital service.

To save time and total cost on developing service, openness should be priority when designing and building service. Meanwhile, encourage users to innovate and optimize service through open data and open source code. Use reusable common platforms and components, which meet open standards and have passed testing, to improve service rapidly.

9: Continual testing and rapid deployment of service

To provide quality assurance, test all functions of service in an environment identical to that of the live version and update service continually by an automated deployment process.

To accelerate software testing and deployment, identify service problems early and fix in time before going live, the schedule of testing and deploying service ought to be shortened. Perform end-to-end test and usability test in an environment that’s as similar to live as possible to ensure the service can be accessed from all common devices and systems and meet users’ needs. Meanwhile, iteratively improve service by automatic deployment.

10: Make a plan for going offline

Identify risk which may affect service run, develop corresponding measures, carry out service monitoring and conduct regular exercise.

To respond to scheduled maintenance or unplanned service downtime (including service fails outside of normal office hours), a plan is necessary for what to do during the time service goes offline. By regular exercises, find out the reasons why service is unavailable and reduce the impact on the public.

11: Follow the ease-of-use principle

In each stage of the service life cycle, use the personal experience of actual users to confirm the ease-of-use of service, establishing a simple and intuitive service interface and process.

Make sure users (including any user who may need assisted digital support) can get through the service end-to-end without assistance. Create a service which is simple, clear, fast and consistent to employ and intuitive enough that users succeed the first time, unaided.

12: Encourage digital use

Encourage users to employ digital service, including reducing the overall costs of obtaining digital service by the users and promoting and designing methods that help users learn digital use. 

Increased digital take-ups mean users can improve their service experience interacting with government. This will result in greater cost efficiencies for agencies. As you build strategy for providing simpler and faster services, the digital channel will become more convenient for users than non-digital ones. You also need to help your users to develop their digital skills. Every service experience will move the user closer towards their goal.

13: Measure service performance

All services must be measured by performance. Measuring indicators (such as user behavior analysis) should be formulated. Use tools to collect data. Use data to analyze the performance of the service, and convert performance into features and tasks for next-phase service improvement.

Appropriate measures should be used to assess service performance so that service quality and the user satisfaction can be increased. The information related to service effectiveness should be open for the stakeholders to analyze users’ needs and continuously improve services. Thus, the objective of driving service improvement can be achieved.

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