Over the line
The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG)’s lasting power of attorney digital service has just gone from beta to live. This is the first exemplar service to pass the Digital by Default service standard assessment to go into live service. The service has been built by a team made up of OPG, GDS and MoJ Digital Services, so this is a great day for us all.
You can find the service here.
What this means to our users
Visually, not much has changed - the beta banner has been removed, and the wording of the terms and conditions has been tweaked. This is because, over the months we've been in beta, over 30 feature releases have already been done, making the small improvements our users have asked for or will benefit from – we only ever do these small, frequent types of release.
The good news in doing things this way is that users see the changes they need quickly, and know that they've got a major stake in the product we've built for them.
What it means for OPG and the team
We've been working hard over the last few months to make sure this is a service that's so good users will continue to choose to use it. One of the biggest steps on the path to go live was passing the new service standard assessment.
Passing the assessment involved three and a half hours with me, the product owner, the delivery manager and our technical architect answering questions on each of 26 points. This was quite a demanding meeting and it was a great relief when, a few days later, we heard we’d passed.
And here is your host ...
As with any product launch, it hasn't been a totally smooth path to get here. What can be seen as a minor change to our users is backed up by months of work to make sure the service will perform well for the growing numbers of users we'll be seeing.
As well as figuring out some puzzles, such as how to architect the system given the new security classifications, we've also had to build new and better ways of monitoring and change hosting provider. All this will help us to prepare for a big increase in our digital applications - and we've got some exciting plans in place to make that happen.
After a quick celebration? More of the same. As long as we've got users, we've got a service we want to develop. We've got big plans for the LPA service; we've only just started on the road to channel shift, so we're going to be raising awareness of the service and working with interest groups to encourage professional uptake.
We're looking at making every aspect of applying for an LPA as user-centric as the digital service is, and we've got a backlog of features which we'll be getting straight to in the morning.
All in all, this might be the end of one journey but it's the beginning of another.
Exemplar 25 Lasting power of attorney
May 2014, live
Kit Collingwood-Richardson, Service Manager
LPA stands for lasting power of attorney, and it's a deed that you put in place where you appoint people to manage your affairs in case you were to ever lack mental capacity in the future. And we've just built a digital service so you can do that online.
Chris Mitchell, Transformation Lead
For users it's much easier than the paper form. They can fill things in once rather than repeatedly.
We've built a clone button in because we know that people often want to make one lasting power of attorney application based on another one.
Nadine Drelaud, Delivery Manager
It means that they don't then have to fill out a lot of the forms, they can reproduce it really quickly and just change the key details. There was a lot of form filling, there was a lot of duplication, so what our form does is it actually takes a lot of that out.
It's far less daunting, the guidance, and help is provided as you need it, in context.
A lady had come to us. She wanted to put a lasting power of attorney in place. So this lady had started that process with a solicitor using the paper forms, and in the middle of her doing that our beta service had come online and she'd taken the opportunity to do that by herself in front of a computer with her family. So she saved herself some money because that was to her an unnecessary legal fee. And she'd also managed to fill in the application form that much more quickly and in the comfort of her own home.
For our users it's just saving them so much time and money.
You can see exactly which decisions you need to make and make them as easily as possible.