Today, we’re excited to announce that Ad Hoc is launching a new set of services from our Innovation team. These new services are designed to be low-risk introductions to digital service methods (such as agile and human-centered design) for government teams, in the context of a specific product or service. Our workshops and short discovery sprints will help teams incorporate short, iterative cycles into their projects. Too often, government teams are forced to make critical decisions related to hiring, budgeting, procurement, and even launch deadlines when they have the least information about their product. Our Innovation team wants to change that.
We’ve grown to more than 200 from just 50 people two years ago, expanding our delivery arm and recruiting top-tier, dedicated people that excel in product management, engineering, design, and user research. These disciplines make up the core of the government digital services movement that includes other vendors but also government organizations like the U.S. Digital Service (USDS) and 18F.
We can recruit excellent people to work on government projects, but there has to be some readiness and familiarity with agile and human-centered design methods on the government side so we can effectively work together to deliver better outcomes. And when you haven’t been exposed to those ways of working, it’s difficult to design a project that embraces them. 18F and USDS have been experimenting with new ways of procuring and building large delivery services to increase the likelihood of success — now Ad Hoc is launching some of our own experiments. As digital service vendors, we must help the market co-evolve to ensure these new ways of working take hold.
To that end, our new services are designed to:
- Build product and UX capacity in government
- Identify critical product assumptions early on in the product life-cycle
- Develop early stage product strategy in government products and services
Over the past several months, our team has been piloting some new services to accomplish these goals in short, low-risk ways. In one experiment, we conducted a 4-day Discovery Sprint with the City of San Jose. In another, we fit a user research cycle into a 2-week engagement under the micropurchase threshold. What we’ve learned is that these engagements must rely heavily on co-creation and collaboration with our customer teams. Rather than disappearing for six weeks and returning with a glossy user research report that garners minimal customer engagement, we find it much more effective to get everyone’s hands dirty with rapid prototyping and have them observe usability tests firsthand. Not only does this bring our customers closer to their users, but they’re better equipped to explain the insights from usability testing to others, and carry the product forward after we’ve left.
The Innovation Team’s first services will be a 2-Hour Workshop and a 5-Week Discovery Sprint. The workshop is right for teams who aren’t sure whether they’re ready to adopt these new methods. It’s a low-risk way to learn from technical experts and keep the cost under the micro-purchase threshold. The Discovery Sprint is designed for teams ready to bring human-centered design and iterative development into their project, but who aren’t sure how to get started, or which of a set of problems to tackle first. This service includes usability testing and prototype development along with training to help your team run your next Discovery Sprint on your own.