Designing and Facilitating Stakeholder Processes for the Agency Data Exchange Program
Our work with the California Health and Human Services (CalHHS) empowered hundreds of agency employees to intake and exchange datasets so they can more efficiently and effectively serve California’s most vulnerable populations.
The California Health & Human Services Agency (CalHHS) oversees departments and state entities that support California's most vulnerable populations. They work together with counties, cities, and communities, as well as public, private, faith, and educational partners to make California a healthy, vibrant, inclusive community. The California Health & Human Services Agency is comprised of six distinct offices that collectively make up the Office of the Secretary; the Office of Legislative Affairs, Office of External Affairs, Office of the Agency General Counsel, Office of Program and Fiscal Affairs, Office of the Agency Information Officer, Administration Unit, and the Office of Policy and Strategic Planning. The combination of these agencies governs the legislative, legal, analysis, and execution of programs through their delivery of data and technology solutions.
CalHHS monitors and is responsible for the quality of life for Californians, and their role in expediting service delivery is directly correlated with the speed at which help is delivered to safety-net populations across the state.
When Exygy entered into the partnership, the Agency Data Exchange program was in year two of its development. The strategy and platform were still at their foundational stages, and our team noticed its potential to create a high social impact very early on. At its core, the Agency Data Exchange initiative works to solve inefficiencies between social service agencies that often cause a negative user experience for those who are already in dire need of help. For example, a person who might have recently visited the DMV might have already given the same information to her Medicare provider, but is asked to enter and validate the same information again. The lack of communication between these agencies is prone to errors and duplicative data where the burden of the mistake is often placed on the applicants themselves.
The intake of data from hundreds of state agencies is a big undertaking. From fire hazard alerts to evacuation sites, foster care systems, and health records, the separation of data forces researchers to refresh and untangle insights repeatedly. As a result, the data itself becomes stale over time and the entire process needs to be restarted. By creating a successful Agency Data Exchange initiative, not only are researchers able to extract key insights to inform policymakers, but applicants from vulnerable communities will also benefit by tapping into a centralized system when they need it.
As the CalHHS’ strategy and design partners, we prioritized understanding the user experience, design decisions, personas, and other factors that create a service blueprint for the product. The goal was to consolidate pain points and barriers within the existing user journey that can be resolved with design and technology. These discoveries and learnings allow our product ideation to be built upon a laser-focused approach to solving pain points that resonate with the social services agencies.
The process started with a User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) audit. We joined in leading their UX work from a technical point of view. Combined with the brand, tone of voice, and the value proposition of CalHHS, we began the process of building a design system grounded in a service blueprint that maps out complex user personas, experiences, and journeys.
Along with their existing Agile process, we implemented internal documentation processes to manage stakeholder relationships. This allowed us to facilitate meetings to foster internal alignment and engagement. By the end of the process, stakeholders of varying capacities can choose to keep themselves updated with the latest developments while choosing when to opt-in or out of decision-making processes. Our process layered on top of their existing Agile process added to their internal operations to allow for a more efficient project management practice, conduct and facilitate workshops, and create product planning goals with internal alignment.
For an initiative as large as the Agency Data Exchange at CalHHS, the impact of our engagement contributed to a stronger foundation for the product moving forward. Our facilitation and Agile coaching increased internal team alignment, stakeholder engagement, and refined processes to reduce time and resources between sprints and iterations. Our design prototype, including ancillary work on a common application amongst these service agencies, kicked off learnings that helped inform technical and design decisions.
The CalHHS team has responded to the call to build the Agency Data Exchange—an integrated data ecosystem which will ultimately support a more equitable California. The massive scope of this project is only outmatched by its importance. I was honored to support it with Human-Centered Design leadership, and by reimagining stakeholder engagement with deep qualitative analysis. Seeing its impact in my home state will be very fulfilling.