Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
As part of the Veteran-facing Services Platform (VSP) at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Platform Analytics & Insights team helps other teams build digital products and services for Veterans.
Ad Hoc, as a subcontractor to the Prime contractor, Oddball, and in support of the VA program requirements, creates data products and provides training and other resources that help teams make more meaningful, data-informed decisions. We want to ensure that those who are building forms, improving searches, developing user portals, and creating other content for Veterans are looking at actual usage data related to the outcomes they're trying to reach.
As of December 2021, more than 20 Veteran-facing services (VFS) teams are building on VA.gov, with more to come. To support their work, Platform Analytics must prioritize solutions that are as automated and scalable as possible. For example, when designing dashboards that display key performance indicators (KPIs) for task completion, ease of use, findability, and satisfaction, the team needed to identify opportunities for standardization so that dashboards could meet the demands of multiple VFS products.
The Platform Analytics team also faces issues common in datawork, including:
Data silos across programs and teams. Data sources that could be useful to many teams are not always known about or accessible outside the team owning the data.
Low data literacy among target users. Many users of dashboards and other data products may not feel comfortable working with quantitative data or confident in how to use data insights when making decisions.
Lack of visibility into offline VA processes. This visibility would provide a more holistic view of performance. In a perfect world, we’d be able to compare our digital products’ performance to their paper-based counterparts.
In the first years of the contract, the Platform Analytics team focused on building a data-informed culture on the VSP and at the VA. The team advocated for greater data use to inform VFS product decisions, encouraged more teams to share quantitative metrics at the weekly Team of Teams meetings, and provided education around KPI selection and interpretation.
By 2020,the Platform Analytics team had pitched and implemented a data warehouse and business intelligence tool to support custom metrics, create reports, and make data more accessible to VFS teams.
In 2021, after a period of creating custom dashboards, the Platform Analytics team pivoted to a new approach of creating widely available standardized dashboards and data pipelines for similar products. Doing so drastically reduced delivery times and expanded the number of teams served.
At the height of the pandemic, the team worked to develop a COVID-19 digital response dashboard to help the VA quickly understand trends and meet the needs of Veterans and families.
Moving forward, the team intends to increase the types of data stored in the warehouse and expand the types of data products offered to teams to include experimentation and other more advanced analytics.
Based on the changes the Platform Analytics team has made to address various issues and streamline our approaches, we’ve seen numerous improvements, including:
Interested in bringing proven methods to your agency to elevate your digital services?