To build and maintain a user-centred service, you need team members with a range of skills and who are open to collaborating.
To build the right thing in the best way, the service team must include specialists in specific roles. As a team they bring capabilities in research, design and delivery. This is called a multidisciplinary team.
You may need to include other roles, skills or capability depending on the size of the service and where it is in the service design and delivery process. It’s ideal to have the same people in the same roles through the whole process, but the team needs to be flexible and adjust to fit the work.
If you are responsible for recruiting for a team you should understand:
- what each role does
- the concept of a multidisciplinary team and T-shaped skills
- how to build team culture
Meeting the Digital Service Standard
In your assessments you will need to explain how these roles have been filled.
The Digital Service Standard guides teams to build services that are simpler, clearer and faster.
Roles your team needs
A team building a government service needs to have people with the following roles, either in the team or available to it:
- service manager
- product manager
- delivery manager
- user researcher
- designers (content designer, service designer and interaction designer)
You may not need all roles in all stages of the service design and delivery process. Sometimes you may need additional support in some stages of the process (for example, you may bring in subject matter experts in Alpha stage).
Finding people and training on the Digital Marketplace
You can find people and training for your government multidisciplinary team on the Digital Marketplace.
When you hire people, think about how you will transfer knowledge.
Only work with sellers willing to share expertise.
The team self-organises
Some of the people in a multidisciplinary team will focus more on managing the team’s activities (for example, the product manager and delivery manager). These people are still part of the team and work with the others to work out the right thing for the team to do next.
Your whole team, and in particular your designers, user researchers, content designers and developers, must work together to design, build and iterate a service based on the user needs of the people your service is aimed at.
Everyone who is in your team should be open to collaborating and understand what a multidisciplinary team looks like.
People can have different levels of experience in their roles
It’s important that team members are practitioners in their roles (for example, interaction design or user research). They should also have some knowledge about other related roles.
People who have both expertise in their role and the ability to collaborate across others are said to have T-shaped skills.
It’s fine if a team member is still building experience in their role, but they do need a depth of knowledge about the area in which they’re working. A person with generalist skills usually won’t be able to deliver what the team needs.
It can help to pair up people in the same role, so the person with more experience can mentor the other.
Two traits that help people succeed on multidisciplinary teams are openness to trying new things and willingness to ask for help.
What each role does
You need each of these roles in your multidisciplinary team.
The product manager leads strategic direction and product delivery. They:
- work with the user researcher and service designer to understand the current state of the product
- work with the team to set the vision for improving the product
- work with the user researcher, service designer and delivery manager to make sure the product meets user needs
- own the product backlog and manage execution
- prioritise user stories
- accept user stories when they’re delivered
- manage approvals
- manage the budget
- ensure the right team culture develops
- are on hand to answer questions from the team
- facilitate travel
The service manager owns and is responsible for the whole user experience of the digital service. They are:
- a senior executive with the capacity to unblock obstacles, present and champion the service at the most senior levels of the Australian Public Service
- experienced leaders with a strong understanding of their service and its users
- able to ensure the service is delivered successfully and meets the needs of the users
- able to assist in making sure internal processes are focused on achieving results for the service
- available to the team, but not necessarily present with them at all times
The delivery manager enables the team to deliver high-quality services. They remove blockers to progress and run product meetings. They:
- deliver products and services using agile methodologies, iterating products and processes frequently to meet users’ needs
- work with product managers to plan the work needed to deliver products and services
- run the daily stand up and weekly team meetings
- make sure that the backlog and team artefacts are up to date
- manage the budget with the product manager
Find out more about what a delivery manager does on the Digital Transformation Agency blog.
The user researcher helps the team develop a deep understanding of users and their needs. They:
- work closely with the product manager and designers to ensure prioritisation of the work to meet the needs of the users
- are responsible for building understanding of the users and their behaviour, and providing insight to the team about how users interact with products and services
- take the lead on running sessions with real users, and communicating findings back to the whole team, creating actionable insights to guide work
Designers help your team create user-focused services and a consistent user experience.
Depending on the type of service you’re building, you may need a team of designers with a range of different skills (for example, in interaction or user experience design).
The service designer works from the user research to identify how a service could be delivered so that it better meets user needs. They:
- design user-focused services that meet web standards for all users, channels and touchpoints
- create a blueprint or map of the proposed service to make sure the main parts are built in from the start
- help the team in the development and continual iteration of services, making sure that there are consistent user experiences
The content designer makes sure that the content in the service meets user needs. They are focused on written content, but also work on the visual and interactive parts of products. They:
- develop content plans and strategies based on user needs
- write clear, usable content in plain English
- review content to make sure it’s accurate, relevant and written in line with the GOV.AU Content Guide
- communicate the principles of content design to the service team and others across your organisation
- advocate for users of the service by challenging requests that don’t support their needs
The interaction designer is responsible for designing a user-focused and accessible service, and making use of established design patterns. They:
- create the user interface for the service, ensuring that it is designed to work across devices and browsers
- make sure the interface meets web standards, is accessible and able to be used by people regardless of their digital literacy
- make use of agreed design patterns and contribute to the design community to improve and add to design patterns
- either make prototypes in HTML or have enough familiarity with code to work closely with developers to make the HTML prototypes
Interaction designers work closely with other members of the team:
- content designer — to improve the usability of the service
- user researcher — to conduct usability testing and design experiments
- technical team members — to develop and iterate prototypes to help improve the service
The developer designs quality well-tested software and sites according to standards and best practice. They:
- build software with a focus on what users need from your service and how they’ll use it
- write quality well-tested code and try to find the simplest solution to a given problem
- keep security, accessibility and open standards in mind
- improve (refactor) the technical implementation as they go along
- solve technical problems
Your team might have a mixture of developers that specialise in being front-end or back-end developers, but most will have solid skills in both areas.
Some developers may need mentoring in user-centred design. If you involve them from the Discovery stage, it will help them to build empathy with users. They’ll also gain experience in user research and bring their expertise to the insights gained.
Sometimes the team will need a technical lead to make it easier to prioritise work. This person is still part of the team and collaborates with everyone to make decisions.
You may need other roles for only part of the process
There are some roles with specific skills or capabilities that the team will only need for part of the service design and delivery process:
- subject matter experts
- business analyst
- web operations engineer
- support operations staff
- ethical hacker
- performance analyst
- IT security specialists
- procurement and contract managers