How do you know where to make improvements in a large organisation?

Helping the Food Standards Agency to make a difference

Cost-effectively finding ways of improving services for end users

Managing broad product and service offerings across a large organisation is a complex undertaking. Complicated organisational structures, diverse departments, and a wide range of legacy technologies make it difficult to identify areas for improvement - both for internal and external users.

As a result, even when organisations know that they want to make improvements to their products and services, it is not always evident where to start. They first need to fully understand what their users are trying to achieve, any obstacles that are in the way, and where in the organisation the most impactful changes can be made.

At Foundry4, we partner with organisations to help them understand – and then improve – their current services, systems and data flows through Discoveries. The F4 Discovery is a two stage research and testing process that typically lasts 6-12 weeks.

In the first phase, we understand the needs of the internal and external users, and determine if there is enough evidence to justify investing time and energy towards better meeting these needs. If there is, we move on to the second phase, where we map the users' journey and prepare the service for design and testing. Splitting Discoveries into two phases allows our teams to cost-effectively identify areas for improvement, as time is not wasted on developments that lack potential.

Working with the Food Standards Agency

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is a government department responsible for food safety and food hygiene in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Over a 6 month programme Foundry4 worked in partnership with the FSA, successfully completing 11 Discoveries across different domains including incident management and reporting, allergen reporting, local authority data flows, HR and financial processing, customer services, and field operations and inspections.

11 Discoveries in just 6 months

How we did it

Our teams worked together with the FSA's business teams and their Digital, Data & Technology (DDAT) team. Working at multiple sites across the UK, we conducted qualitative interviews with users from across the organisation to analyse how the people, processes and technology were interacting and how this could be improved. At the end of each Discovery, we assembled assessment panels which helped the FSA decide whether or not to progress each project to the next stage.

The FSA had not been as exposed to the GDS Service Standard ways of working due to falling outside of the GOV.UK remit. We therefore worked with them to help set their internal standards and build their capabilities. Throughout our Discoveries, DDAT colleagues were paired up with key members of our team to promote upskilling and the transfer of knowledge from Foundry4 to the FSA.

We also introduced the FSA to working in the open, documenting our findings as we went for anyone to see. As such, our research and analysis were available for all members of the organisation to view, comment on and challenge. This transparency helps us to get feedback as early as possible, ensuring we deliver the best results.

How we made the difference

At the FSA, we identified that several core services weren't meeting users’ needs and were being held back by underlying legacy technology. Our Discoveries set out how this could be addressed in order to free data from silos, provide better business intelligence, and deliver services that met the needs of all stakeholders.