Request A Historic Service Record

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Previous assessment reports

  • Alpha assessment report: 7th August 2017, MOD Internal Assessment, Met

Service description

MOD holds around 10 million archived service records including information on people who served in the armed forces from 1780 to1960 The present service offers a set of downloadable kinds which can be completed and sent by post to the service disclosure branches (Army, Navy and RAF) and needs payment by cheque of the ₤30 administration cost. The service currently receives around 30,000 demands per year.

On receipt of a demand, the disclosure branch logs the request and carries out a search for the record based on the details provided. Private beta for the brand-new service begun in May 2019 with crucial aims of improving user journeys by getting rid of the need to publish kinds and payment.

Service users

Users fall under 2 essential groups:

  • member of the family– users vary from those just starting their journey in household history research study or making a one-off demand ‘I want my grandpa’s service record’ to those who are experienced and enthusiastic family history scientists knowledgeable about the many authorities channels and processes included e.g. findmypast.com, ancestry.com, local records workplaces, national archives

  • genealogists – expert family history scientists and historians likewise use the service. Genealogists and household history scientists typically work on behalf of others and request numerous records related to a family/name. Military historians and historical researchers may be trying to find details of members of a troop or program and once again may request multiple records at one time

1. Understand user needs

Decision

The service satisfied point 1 of the Requirement

What the team has done well

The panel was amazed that:

  • the group performed user research study in Discovery and Alpha to determine user needs which have actually been utilized during the style and version of the Beta

What the group needs to check out

Prior to their next evaluation, the group needs to:

  • present how the existing end to end service (including the online and offline parts) is meeting or not meeting the user needs, this will assist to recognize service gaps and locations in requirement of improvement
  • present how the user needs have been even more developed or prioritised in the Beta stage based on the additional research performed
  • evaluate web analytics to comprehend problems users have

2. Do continuous user research study

Decision

The service fulfilled point 2 of the Standard

What the team has actually succeeded

The panel was amazed that:

  • the group checked the beta at roadshows and conferences i.e. The Genealogy Conference at the NEC in Birmingham, The Household History Show in York and Roostech Household History Conference at the Master London. This meant that an optimised variation of the service was utilized by 180 people
  • insights from the screening at the roadshows and conferences were utilized to repeat the beta and solved some of the functionality concerns with the service
  • the team gathered insights about the user issues from the Disclosure Branches (Army, Navy and RAF). Disclosure Branches are the teams that handle all requests relating to disclosure of details in MOD and supply a helpdesk center as part of this service

What the team needs to check out

Prior to their next assessment, the group requires to:

  • conduct functionality screening of completion to end service in genuine conditions instead of in optimised conditions i.e. the turn-around to receive a report was lowered from numerous months to 3 hours at the Rootstech Conference
  • conduct functionality screening of the end to end service with all user types i.e. member of the family and professional users (genealogists and historians)
  • test the service with people with gain access to needs
  • present outputs from user research study so the assessors can see how the user research study has impacted the service
  • present how the team prioritised design changes based on user research study
  • evaluate web analytics to understand issues users have and examine these issues in user research study

3. Have a multidisciplinary team

Decision

The service met point 3 of the Requirement

What the group has done well

The panel was impressed that:

  • the project uses a totally spread out multidisciplinary team
  • the group is collocated across the UK and appears to coordinate and work together well

What the team needs to explore

Before their next assessment, the group needs to:

  • guarantee that they continue to transfer knowledge from contractor resource to in-team staff (FTE)

4. Use nimble approaches

Decision

The service met point 4 of the Requirement

What the group has done well

The panel was satisfied that:

  • the group follows scrum principles and is fully ‘nimble’ and runs 2 week sprints
  • the group runs remote everyday stand-ups to identify blockers/issues etc
  • communication techniques consist of Trello

What the team needs to explore

Before their next evaluation, the group requires to:

  • continue to use agile tools and approaches in their digital delivery

5. Iterate and improve regularly

Decision

The service satisfied point 5 of the Standard

What the team has actually done well

The panel was satisfied that:

  • the team utilizes semi and totally automated screening procedures to speed up advancement and deployment

What the team requires to explore

Before their next evaluation, the team requires to:

  • guarantee that dynamic mistake checking is in place to track service problems with real-time notices
  • guarantee that efficiency analytics and feedback are utilized to notify service improvement

Choice

The service satisfied point 6 of the Standard

What the team has done well

The panel was amazed that:

  • the group has picked the GOV.UK PaaS cloud service and prevented on-premise hosting
  • the group picked GOV.UK Pay and GOV.UK Notify for payments and e-mails, avoiding lock-in contracts

What the group needs to explore

Before their next assessment, the team needs to:

  • review the remaining third-party services used (Sentry for tracking and Travis for deploying) and options for the service: explore what to keep track of and why before picking tools and systems. See the Service Manual for information
  • review the choice of web structure. While PHP Laravelle is an appropriate choice, it isn’t as popular as other languages and structures, and so carries some danger with maintenance and designer onboarding
  • evaluate the support plans and what to do if a 3rd party service was to become unavailable or if the team needed to alter hosting platforms for any reason

7. Understand security and privacy issues

Choice

The service did not meet point 7 of the Standard

What the team has succeeded

The panel was amazed that:

  • the group has actually decided not to save any individual data on the service, by keeping session info as an internet browser cookie until the process is total and the information is sent out to by email by means of the server (and the data is erased right away). Although this is an unusual alternative to ‘conserve and return’, the team has found no evidence of a user requirement for it, most likely due to the fact that the whole deal is long enough that multiple sessions are not expected to finish it
  • the group has actually examined security dangers and dangers that have actually caused the option above

What the group needs to explore

Prior to their next evaluation, the group needs to:

  • saving the session data as a cookie has personal privacy downsides: a cookie set to expire at the end of the session will not end when the user closes a tab or a window, however just when the entire web browser is closed. There is a risk that someone using the computer system after the user will be able to obtain their personal information. The user needs to be warned of that truth and offered a method to delete the data at the end of their interaction with the service
  • using Google Tag Supervisor opens the application to destructive activities: it enables people with admin access to the Google Analytics account utilized to inject code into the service pages. The last publishing must be done by the Tech Lead/ Designer or somebody certified
  • include a privacy policy page describing what happens to the user’s data and how they can ask for adjustments under the terms of the Data Protection Act
  • add a cookie policy page explaining what cookies are used (both essential and optional)

8. Make all new source code open

Decision

The service met point 8 of the Requirement

What the team has actually done well

The panel was amazed that:

What the group needs to check out

Prior to their next evaluation, the team requires to:

  • expand the paperwork and describe the context in the repo, link the repository back to the service page
  • release a software application licence and a copyright declaration
  • make it simpler for other services to recycle the code

9. Usage open standards and common platforms

Decision

The service met point 9 of the Requirement

What the team has actually succeeded

The panel was pleased that:

  • the group primarily utilizes the GOV.UK stack: PaaS, Notify and Pay
  • the code uses PHP and Laravelle, both open source

What the group requires to check out

Prior to their next evaluation, the group needs to:

  • think about using the nation register (https://country.register.gov.uk/) and the GOV.UK nation picker (https://designnotes.blog.gov.uk/2017/04/20/ were-building-an-autocomplete/). To prevent needing to keep a list of countries, and to also prevent a long and hostile country dropdown

10 Test the end-to-end service

Decision

The service did not satisfy point 10 of the Requirement.

What the group has actually succeeded

The panel was pleased that:

  • the code includes practical and unit tests
  • there are numerous environments for dev and screening
  • the constant integration (CI) process runs the tests automatically
  • the team has actually tested significant web browsers and assistive technology (note that??/??/?? doesn’t check out too well using text-to-speech and using readable text like “not available” works much better)

What the team needs to check out

Prior to their next assessment, the team requires to:

  • the GitHub repository currently reveal CI stopping working, and has actually been for more than a week
  • offered the lots of crashes and mistakes that the panels experienced when checking the service, it is clear that the service team requires to put a lot more work into testing

The panel recommends:

  1. creating automated smoke tests

  2. making sure the application can not be released if tests don’t pass

  3. appropriately established notifies if tests stop working or the application breakdowns, including ensuring there’s always going to be somebody to receive the alerts

  • have a third party carry out a penetration test at the application level, and not simply count on the truth that the PaaS platform is currently pen-tested
  • the 2MB limit on uploaded files enforced by GOV.UK Notify is a strong restriction when it concerns uploading scanned documents. Although the service group have not experienced the problem when evaluating the private beta service it is expected that during public beta users will find that they can’t submit pictures that they have actually taken of the needed files with their phone. It is suggested to allow for larger files to be uploaded, perhaps by resizing them on the server before sending out to Alert, or by keeping them on a server that can be accessed by the email’s recipient
  • make sure that service implementations lead to no downtime by utilizing blue-green release

11 Make a plan for being offline

Decision

The service did not meet point 11 of the Requirement

What the group has actually succeeded

The panel was impressed that:

  • the team checked out how users would be impacted if the service was not available
  • the group provided a strategy for dealing with blackouts

What the team requires to check out

Before their next assessment, the group requires to:

  • check out situations in which the application crashes to the point where it’s not able to serve error pages. There ought to be a static 500 page hosted separately, which the user can be rerouted to prevent them being confused and exist with an offline option (the previous process)
  • estimate the most likely causes for the service going offline and articulate a strategy to deal with them
  • combine the technique for handling interruptions so that it does not depend on a single developer

12 Make certain users be successful the first time

Decision

The service satisfied point 12 of the Standard

What the team has actually done well

The panel was amazed that:

  • the team has repeated numerous elements of the service reacting to findings from their user research
  • the group tested their online service with a plethora of users and showed users are being successful the first time
  • the group thought about the possibility of information combination with other parts of federal government e.g. GRO to simplify the journey and minimize the burden on users, who presently need to provide a death certificate alongside their record demand

What the group requires to check out

Before their next evaluation, the group needs to:

  • whilst the team provided proof that users are prospering very first time when finishing an online demand, it is likewise real that the model was evaluated considerably more with one user group (member of the family) than others. The team needs to test the end-to-end service (from finding the service up until receiving the records) with a variety of individuals representing all user groups recognized in the research, as expert users (genealogists/historians) may have various needs and expectations
  • there’s a chance for the group to look more closely at the ‘offline’ parts of the end-to-end service– more particularly, what occurs after a user completes the request online (constantly bearing in mind the user’s goal is finished just when they get the records they asked for). The digital service provided at the evaluation represents just a part of the user journey, whilst the other parts of the service are not being made digital. There is space to make processes more streamlined and joined-up at the backstage, when DBS’s get and process users’ requests, taking a look at not just to decrease the waiting time for users however likewise to possibly lower the expense to serve and making the service consistent between the various providers
  • the guidelines of the service are somewhat made complex and there’s space to make it clearer to users– e.g. the records will contain more or less detail depending upon who requests it. Explore setting the expectations of users throughout the journey, offering relevant assistance at essential points, rather of only at the landing page Think about users would do things in a different way (e.g. have the near relative to make the demand instead) if they understand the rules and implications
  • the group need to keep an eye on the upload of death certificate during their public beta to comprehend whether the file size limitation provides an issue in the journey and if so, goal to address it as quickly as possible

13 Make the user experience constant with GOV.UK

Choice

The service did not meet point 13 of the Requirement

What the team has actually succeeded

The panel was amazed that:

  • the service is integrated to GOV.UK Pay and Inform

What the group requires to check out

Prior to their next assessment, the team requires to:

  • the model offered the evaluation had some broken elements on the code (e.g. typeface was defaulted to Arial, arrow images not loading on the start button). These need to be repaired to make the style consistent to GOV.UK
  • the start page presents a tab pattern, which is not presently the advised style. In any case, the start page need to be developed in combination with the GOV.UK group
  • the pages must be evaluated for where GOV.UK parts and patterns are not acting according to the style system (e.g. font style on radio pattern alternatives being presented in strong)
  • the copy ought to be examined throughout the service, based on the content evaluation (sent independently to the group), and preferably, this ought to be done with the aid of a material designer. In addition to what is explained on the material evaluation, in several pages, there is unneeded repetition of the question/call to action, which look like the page title in addition to prior to the kind fields. In some pages, there is also what seems to be a page-filler copy on the lines of ‘fill this information so we can complete your request’. Attention is likewise required on material that can behave unexpectedly on various screen readers– for example, the slash sign (serviceman/woman). Prefer plain English over symbols (‘ or’ instead of ‘/’ )
  • needed fields in the type could benefit from recognition to be constant with the guidelines of the service along with assistance avoid user mistakes– e.g. date of birth validation restricting it to today date or a specific year. User errors could also be avoided by keeping consistency of needed fields– e.g. city/town not required on contact details page however needed on the payment page

14 Encourage everybody to use the digital service

Decision

The service did not fulfill point 14 of the Standard

What the team has actually done well

The panel was amazed that:

  • the service group has thought about multiple user types and has actually currently engaged with external stakeholders to promote the service (e.g. Rootstech)
  • showed that Google search terminology has actually been thought about

What the group needs to explore

Prior to their next evaluation, the team needs to:

  • address the problems in Point 12 above in order to accommodate the needs of the user types highlighted by the team e.g. Genealogists
  • working with the GOV.UK content team to make sure that landing content is properly presented to make sure simpleness of user experience after showing up at/searching for the service

15 Collect performance information

Choice

The service did not fulfill point 15 of the Standard

What the group has succeeded

The panel was amazed that:

  • the group has actually begun deal with calculating the cost per transaction for the service

What the group requires to explore

Prior to their next assessment, the group needs to:

  • ensure that the application of Google Analytics (GA) and Google Tag Manager is documented so that other developers can quickly pick up the work
  • utilize GA to track particular events on the service kind (e.g. validation errors, menu choices) – to provide more useful information, these could be segmented by user type (e.g. genealogists or one-off users)
  • acquire and monitor data from offline sources such as the disclosure team, the telephone assistance service or the external suppliers. This would help the team to understand how well the requirements of users are being satisfied: for example, how long are users waiting for documents, how much information do they usually receive, how frequently can no records be found, what issues do they have using the online service.
  • compare the efficiency of using online and offline sources: for example, is there a distinction in processing times, less requirement to contact users, or are there fewer errors as an outcome of utilizing the online process? Such information might help to reveal that investment in the service leads to higher performance, and could help to justify more improvements in the end-to-end process
  • make strategies to measure user complete satisfaction for the end-to-end procedure – that wants the service record has been received – not just after the request has been submitted

16 Recognize efficiency indicators

Decision

The service did not fulfill point 16 of the Requirement

What the team has succeeded

The panel was amazed that:

  • the group will be monitoring conclusion rate, drop-out-points, and user fulfillment to measure success of the service

What the group needs to explore

Before their next assessment, the team requires to:

  • identify more service-specific measures for evaluating success– the existing steps identified are the standard GDS KPIs which do not show all of the user requires for this service
  • run a performance framework exercise to assist recognize more metrics based upon the particular objectives of the service and the needs of its users

17 Report performance data on the Efficiency Platform

Decision

The service satisfied point 17 of the Requirement

What the group has actually done well

The panel was amazed that:

  • the team was proactive in calling the efficiency platform group in advance about setting up a control panel. There are substantial delays in establishing control panels, but this is through no fault of the service group

What the team needs to explore

Prior to their next assessment, the team needs to:

  • guarantee that data for the 4 compulsory metrics is supplied so that the control panel can be inhabited and published
  • put in location a process for guaranteeing the dashboard stays current

18 Test with the minister

Choice

The service satisfied point 18 of the Standard

What the group has actually done well

The panel was pleased that:

  • The group had checked the service with the Chief of Defence Worker, Lt General Richard Nugee – anecdotally he asked for and got his grandfather’s service record during the test!

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