Department for Work & Pensions

Mapping the full child maintenance service


Department for Work & Pensions


Service Design


April 2017-Present


Marie Cheung


During the 1.5 years as a service designer at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in the UK government. I helped build up the service design community, supported and connected services across the country and worked to bring policy and design closer together. I have worked with the Government Digital Service and adopted their Introduction to service design training to the North of England. I also helped to bring citizen’s voices closer to our service design by working with the Poverty Truth Commission in Leeds. I’ve also innovated new tools and techniques to help DWP become a more user-centred organisation.


Building up the service design community
I ran the first two DWP service design days for anyone in the department with an interest in Service Design. For the second one, I organised the day as a cross-gov Service Design meetup. Both days were a huge success, strengthening the SD community and building momentum around the practice for DWP.

I also organised and ran 2 service design lunch and learn sessions. One on an 'Introduction to Service Design' which lead to an increase in requests for service design support in the department. The second was about applying service design to the learning and development procurement and booking process within the department. I also gave internal talks about service design to colleagues.

At one of the service design community days

Supporting and connecting working age-related services
I held a “kick off” meeting with the team and brough together people designing working age services to look at the current landscape and create a set of values and principles. This helped to create a community and a standard to work towards as well as a shared understanding. Then conducted a “discovery” to investigate all the services and capture their problem and mission statement. I co-organised monthly meet ups with this community to talk about the services, and priorities. I helped build teams adopt a cross-service view which included 12+ services to think about how the different services overlapped or lead into each other, as well as looking at common capabilities across those services.

Bringing policy and design closer together
I helped to co-organise, plan, and facilitate a ‘design challenge’ that got policy makers to think about a problem, generate ideas and then prototype possible solutions in a short space of time. We also ran a similar session in July 2018 at the ‘International design in government’ conference with a more design-focused community to help them empathize with a high-pressure political environment. I also work with the Policy Exploration team to help policymakers consider problems more openly in a way that would enable design teams to work out ways to solve the problem without given pre-defined solutions.

End-to-end, front-to-back service design
I worked with the policy, operational and digital colleagues to map out the entire current end-to-end process got all our users (parents, agents, employers, etc) for services like the child maintenace service, bereavement as a service and planning for retirement.

Mapping the Department for Work and Pensions
Our service design team decided we needed to map out the entire Department for Work and Pensions in order to create a clearer and more user-centred picture of the problems the department is trying to solve. We created the map based on how our users would experience the services rather than how it is currently organisationally structured.

Introduction to service design training
I ran 2 of these training sessions in Leeds and Newcastle with cross-government participation. I adopted this model and worked with the Government Digital Service to establish this. The first training sold out (to 25 people) within 5 days with 5 people joining the wait list. The second training also sold out very quickly (to 30 people) with a waitlist of 32 people. We’ve also created a 3rd session to be run in August in Blackpool.

Poverty Truth Commission
I initiated and worked towards creating a joint event with Poverty Truth Commission that featured those with lived experiences of povery and DWP staff such as housing strategy, jobcentre plus staff and digital colleagues. We’ve involved them in speaking with policy people around poverty and DWP’s social fund.

Helping DWP become a more user-centred organisation
Through working with many different services, it was apparent that while many teams could map out the current process in a linear way, the difficulty was being able to translate findings into a user-centred future journey. Often times, there were pressures to make a service more cost-effective and efficient as success measures and services ended up only being tweaked to fix specific problems without considering the end-to-end journey. Consequently, I evolved a tool that I call an outcome-based service map. This tool enabled teams to think about its users, stages and outcomes first before even thinking of potential ideal activities and steps that each actor would need to take along the journey.

© Marie Cheung