Human centered design in digital transformation

The City of Unley’s Digital Transformation Lead, Alex Keay and Spatial and Business Intelligence Analyst, Stephen Yates talk about their “do more with less” approach to digital transformation and service delivery.

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The City of Unley’s is leveraging people centered design in their focus on digital services for a more citizen friendly and efficient government. From their $ relaunched website$  to more streamlined self-help services, Unley is relying on empathy and collaboration to make the most of new technologies.

Governments across the globe are exploring digital transformation and local governments of all sizes are launching new, more self service and accessible websites. $ Clark County, NV$  recently launched their rebranded website to deliver digital ways for their residents to apply for a business license or building permit to pay property taxes or $ license renewals$  online, rather than visiting a government office.

The City of Unley is a local government serving a community less than 2% of the size of Clark County, yet their work to deliver digital tools and a more seamless user experience is quite similar. This goes to show superior service delivery through the use of digital tools just may be achievable for governments of any size.

Establish a people centered project framework

Alex Keay, Digital Transformation Lead credits their focus on people centered design and the agile project delivery framework for their success promoting quick iteration based on feedback. She encourages all teams, regardless of the project, to get everyone in the room before you start the process to really determine what problems you're trying to solve and get everyone on the same page.

While Unley relied heavily on technology to deliver these improved services, Keay emphasized the digital piece never took the lead of the conversation, rather digital was an enabler to better, more people-centric service delivery.

Keay and team focused on three guiding principles in their digital transformation efforts:

  • streamlining our service delivery around the community;
  • having conversations about the importance of a customer lens on everything we do; and
  • empowering our workforce in that conversation
She says: “The technology was a huge part [...], but we try to position our strategy around people, the people we're designing for.”

Leverage low code tools to boost efficiency

Coupled with their work to engage stakeholders including frontline workers and the community to improve clunky processes and move toward a more digital, self-service government, Unley has also done impressive work to automate much of their reporting.

Stephen Yates refers to himself as the data guy but is technically known as Unley’s Spatial and Business Intelligence Analyst. From building a model using Power BI to automatically combine and nicely package reporting from the various departments to more recently automating the remote work approval workflow using tools in MS Teams, Yates is a big fan of low or no code and low maintenance tools to help boost efficiency. Yates says:

“Using those low and no code solutions that you can build in house with relatively low skill sets that are all transferable user-driven analytics [...] people actually taking ownership over their thing instead of relying on one or two people within the organization to do everything. That's what excites me.”

Having a more people-centric approach to service delivery is a newer concept for many in IT running the back of the house. Yates says:

“being quite the tech head, you don't quite get it, but when you start seeing what it all means, being digital first, technology's actually not the answer in many cases.”

Listen to the full episode to learn more about Unley’s success through digital transformation and the various low code tools being used to make their government work better or check out other stories of digital transformation and innovation on the $ Govlaunch podcast$ .

Additional Story Information



The City of Unley, SA

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