Ofgem – helping an organisation become agile

The official logo of Ofgem

Ofgem is the United Kingdom’s energy regulator. It oversees the energy generation, transmission and supplier markets. Ofgem aims to creating a technically stable and a price competitive market for energy consumers.

We’ve worked with Ofgem on several, very different services over the past couple of years. Each has presented its own challenges along side introducing agile, iterative delivery to an organisation unfamiliar and slightly distrusting of it.

Check Your Energy Deal – simple access to open data

The Competition and Markets Authority presented Ofgem with a substantial report and some very specific ideas on how to increase switching rates amongst domestic energy consumers. Ofgem was about to create the services the CMA had specified and asked us for advice on user research and service design.A brief Discovery period focussing on intensive qualitative research revealed the the CMA’s ideas were not technically viable and would not meet users’ needs. We worked with the delivery team to produced tangible, meaningful evidence to present to the Ofgem board with the aim of changing the service’s direction, delivering iteratively and meeting users’ needs. We were successful and led the Ofgem team and their digital delivery partner through a successful Government Digital Service Alpha assessment into a substantial Private Beta.

External Recruitment Service – breaking away fro ‘big IT’

Ofgem’s third party HR management systems had become increasingly unreliable and the HR Director was exploring options. We helped the HR Director deconstruct and separate the service(s) the current systems were and weren’t providing. In doing this, we identified that external recruitment had become excessively time consuming and error prone. We completed two swift rounds of qualitative research with the HR team and we recruited recent and potential external recruits.

With a straightforward set of user needs as a starting point – we led a small, independent technology partner to deliver a fully functional, public facing Minimum Viable service inside 6 weeks. Additionally, we’d enabled the wider HR team to learn and adopt iterative delivery processes for future work.

Staff Appraisal and performance management processes – challenging the status quo

Ofgem’s staff appraisal process had been taken from the standard Civil Service model. However, as Ofgem introduced significant organisational change, the existing process would not meet either organisational or user needs.

We designed a research approach that would allow us to engage a broad range of Ofgem staff who could remain anonymous. This meant we got to ‘authentic’ user needs that could reshape the appraisal and performance management processes. Equipped with evidenced user needs, we worked with Ofgem’s Senior HR leaders, line managers and staff at all levels to create a new process that was piloted across the organisation almost immediately.

The new process has proved highly effective in improving staff engagement and enabled Ofgem to change its organisation and culture.

Public-facing website – putting user research at the heart of service design

We were asked to evaluate the existing Ofgem website from a user perspective. We identified and recruited users from across the energy industry along with business and domestic energy consumers and representatives of lobby groups.

During a strictly time-boxed Discovery, we conducted over 40 1:1 research sessions across the UK. The findings were ‘difficult’ for Ofgem but, using the evidenced user needs, we were able to help them find a viable starting point for developing and iterating services rather than waiting for the perfect time/situation for a big bang redevelopment.