Web consolidation strategic assessment

A collage of screenshots from a large number of websites
A sample of the many, many websites with a something.govt.nz address

In the Result 10 team, we’re currently working on a web consolidation strategic assessment, focusing on information about services. I’m leading the project team on this work, and many people around government have asked me just what a ‘web consolidation strategic assessment’ actually is and who is involved. In this blog post, I’ll answer those questions and provide some international context for the work.

Note: If you’d like background on what ‘Result 10’ is, have a look at Richard Foy’s blog post.

International focus

In recent years, governments around the world are beginning to recognise that, after more than a decade of government website proliferation, we’ve built large and complex online ecosystems that are difficult for our customers to navigate and inefficient to maintain. There is significant international discussion around this as we gain more insight into how users engage with large organisations online, and how we can best meet the needs of those users.

The Result 10 team joins a monthly conference call with staff from other jurisdictions that are working on improving all-of-government digital delivery. Participants include the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, and state or provincial governments of Ontario, South Australia, and Queensland. Many of the participants are at various stages of considering or implementing web consolidation and we’re sharing information and ideas about what works and what doesn’t.

In New Zealand

In New Zealand, government web consolidation is listed as an action in the Government ICT Strategy and Action Plan to 2017 as well as the Result 10 Blueprint. In May 2014, the Result 10 Digital Services Council (which acts as an advisory body for Result 10 work) asked the Result 10 team to do a web consolidation strategic assessment.

This web consolidation strategic assessment will:

  • look at the strategic context for consolidation
  • outline any case for change
  • provide an opportunity for stakeholders to comment
  • provide a current and future state analysis
  • explore vision and principles to guide the work
  • make recommendations for next steps.

When considering web consolidation, we’re focusing on the customer’s needs and what information they require about services. Consolidation won't necessarily mean having one giant website, but it would probably mean having fewer than the approximately 550 websites that we are looking at.

Current state survey

As part of our current state analysis, we are using data from 10 government organisations who have participated in a survey. The survey collected information such as cost of delivery and website analytics so that we can get a good understanding, based on evidence, of what the government online domain looks like.

We’re taking a data sampling approach where we’ll extrapolate out the data from 10 representative agencies to get a picture of the entire government domain. We’re doing this to avoid going out to a huge number of agencies and asking them all to fill out a survey.

The survey participants include different types of organisations as well as organisations with a small, medium, and large number of websites. Information will be amalgamated to provide a broad understanding of the current state.

Advisory group

We’ve also established an advisory group to help the Result 10 team develop the web consolidation strategic assessment.

The purpose of the group is to:

  • provide input, review and feedback on the future state vision, options and recommendations
  • provide stakeholder perspectives on the development of the benefits, risks and problems with the options and recommendations
  • encourage ownership of the process and outcomes by stakeholders
  • comment on specific papers and draft papers.

The Advisory Group is made up of representatives from agencies across the government domain, including a mix of strategic thinkers and individuals with a strong understanding of the digital environment. Members include representatives from:

  • Department of Conservation
  • Department of Internal Affairs
  • Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet
  • Electricity Authority
  • Inland Revenue Department
  • Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment
  • Ministry of Education
  • Ministry of Health
  • Ministry of Social Development
  • New Zealand Police.

In addition to this Advisory Group, we’ve also got a Project Board that includes:

  • Department of Internal Affairs
  • Electricity Authority
  • Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Our Executive Sponsor is from the Department of Conservation. So it’s truly a cross-agency initiative, with input and oversight from far and wide.

Relationship to Govt.nz

The web consolidation strategic assessment work is related to Govt.nz in that both streams of work focus on making it easier for New Zealanders to interact with government online by transforming the way the Government delivers information and services. Launched July 2014,  Govt.nz has been created as the authoritative central source of government information designed from the user’s perspective, delivering content in topics relevant to users, rather than the structure or delivery of government. Functionality and content on Govt.nz will continue to evolve based on user research, feedback and collaboration with agency stakeholders.

The web consolidation strategic assessment is looking at the potential for consolidation of the government domain. Working together and sharing learnings across government, it builds on knowledge, experience and opportunities created by Govt.nz

Timeline

We’re planning to be finished with the web consolidation strategic assessment in December 2014. We’ll be blogging about our work periodically on the Web Toolkit as work the progresses, and we’ll provide an update when we’re done.

Update (17-12-2014): The strategic assessment is now scheduled to finish in the first quarter 2015.

2 comments

  1. Comment #1. Phillip:

    Would this make the services more efficent/accessible?

    Or would combining to a super site make services more difficult to access and find?

  2. Comment #2. Jared Gulian

    Good question. Where government web consolidation work has been successful in other jurisdictions, it has prioritised meeting user needs. The premise is that delivering information based on user need (rather than the structure of government) makes it easier for users to find and access that information.

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