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https://digitalhealth.blog.gov.uk/2020/10/12/phe-food-and-environmental-proficiency-testing-unit-alpha-assessment/

PHE Food and Environmental Proficiency Testing Unit Alpha Assessment

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Alpha, Assurance, Service assessments

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From: NHSX
Assessment date: 5th October 2020
Stage: Alpha
Result: Met
Service provider: Public Health England (PHE)

Service description

The core value for FEPTU is to assist laboratories world-wide in maintaining standards of excellence in microbiological testing of foods and waters. Public Health England (PHE) food and water microbiology schemes are organised by the Food and Environmental Proficiency Testing Unit (FEPTU).

FEPTU is a world leader in providing microbiology proficiency testing (PT) schemes both in the UK and in over 70 countries internationally to >900 food and water laboratories. 

Laboratories play a vital role in protecting the public’s health by helping to ensure that food is safe to consume, waters are safe to drink and that environmental and recreational waters do not make people ill. Services are 100% revenue generated.

Service users

The users need to have assurance on their testing ability by an external provider as part of their accreditation requirements and this is done by providing simulated samples for them to test. The users of this service are microbiology laboratories for:

  • Food 
  • Water
  • Environmental
  • Clinical
  • Small / medium / large 
  • Private
  • Public
  • Global 

Report contents

  1. Understand users and their needs
  2. Solve a whole problem for users
  3. Provide a joined-up experience across all channels
  4. Make the service simple to use
  5. Make sure everyone can use the service
  6. Have a multidisciplinary team
  7. Use agile ways of working
  8. Iterate and improve frequently
  9. Create a secure service which protects users’ privacy
  10. Define what success looks like and publish performance data
  11. Choose the right tools and technology
  12. Make new source code open
  13. Use and contribute to open standards, common components and patterns
  14. Operate a reliable service

1. Understand users and their needs

Decision

The service did not meet point 1 of the Standard.

What the team has done well

The panel was impressed that:

  • While the team has had problems recruiting research participants, they have made good use of the expertise they have internally to make product iterations.   
  • The team have a solid understanding of the pain points in the current user journey and are testing design concepts which directly attempt to solve these problems.

What the team needs to explore

Before their next assessment, the team needs to:

  • Conduct research with real end users. Failure to do so and relying solely on internal show and tell feedback to iterate could result in confirmation bias.    
  • Consider their research recruitment strategy, and appropriate incentivisation options.    

2. Solve a whole problem for users

Decision

The service met point 2 of the Standard.

What the team has done well

The panel was impressed that:

  • The team is considering their service in the round, and trying to consolidate confusing multiple online channels which exist at present into one service they can invest their time into.

What the team needs to explore

Before their next assessment, the team needs to:

  • Consider a landing page on GOV.UK or NHS.UK to direct users towards the service.

3. Provide a joined-up experience across all channels

Decision

The service met point 3 of the Standard.

What the team has done well

The panel was impressed that:

  • The service team is empowered to design and develop the new site.
  • The operations side of FEPTU have been heavily involved in the creation of the service.

What the team needs to explore

Before their next assessment, the team needs to:

  • Consider how changes to the digital service will affect the use of other channels - will users need ‘offline’ options to complete transactions?

4. Make the service simple to use

Decision

The service met point 4 of the Standard.

What the team has done well

The panel was impressed that:

  • The team are taking into consideration what styling is most appropriate for their service, and using common design patterns where appropriate. 

What the team needs to explore

Before their next assessment, the team needs to:

  • Test the end-to-end user journey flows with real users and scenarios to identify pain points, and iterate where appropriate.
  • Test their chosen styling solution with end users, particularly to gain feedback on how styling influences users understanding of the service offering.

5. Make sure everyone can use the service

Decision

The service met point 5 of the Standard.

What the team has done well

The panel was impressed that:

  • The team have taken into consideration their varied user base in building the service journey map, and have built prototypes incorporating the multiple user journeys.     
  • The team are considering accessibility needs.     

What the team needs to explore

Before their next assessment, the team needs to:

  • Test the end-to-end user journey flows with a range of users, including those with accessibility needs.       
  • Ensure they have appropriate offline support mechanisms in place.

6. Have a multidisciplinary team

Decision

The service met point 6 of the Standard.

What the team has done well

The panel was impressed that:

  • The delivery team encompasses a range of different specialisms.

What the team needs to explore

Before their next assessment, the team needs to:

  • Create a stable, full-time core to the development team, and consider the roles, responsibilities and FTE working on this project. As it moves into private beta, work will proliferate and it will not be enough to borrow time from people who have full-time jobs outside of the project. The project needs to be funded through private and public beta to a degree that allows consistency in the design and development staff who are working on it. In practice, this probably means at least 1 designer and 1 developer working full time on the project, either from FEPTU or an agency. The creation of a stable and sustainable development team will be a condition of any private beta assessment. The project team should work with Liz Thomas to look at whether the current proposals for beta will be well-funded enough to allow this. 

7. Use agile ways of working

Decision

The service met point 7 of the Standard.

What the team has done well

The panel was impressed that:

  • The team has some solid prototypes which have been iterated based on internal testing
  • The team appears to be quite product-oriented, and understand that focusing on the product rather than ‘business needs’ will drive up traffic and eventually revenue.

8. Iterate and improve frequently

Decision

The service met point 8 of the Standard.

What the team has done well

The panel was impressed that:

  • The team does not view the prototype as static, and wants to improve it based on feedback from users.

What the team needs to explore

Before their next assessment, the team needs to:

  • Conduct research with external users before launching the ecommerce aspects of the service in order to better understand the patterns of usage with their customers.

9. Create a secure service which protects users’ privacy

Decision

The service met point 9 of the Standard.

What the team has done well

The panel was impressed that:

  • The team has considered security from the outset ensuring that the service collects the minimal amount of data necessary.
  • The team is engaged with their organisations data protection officer. 

10. Define what success looks like and publish performance data

Decision

The service MET point 10 of the Standard.

What the team has done well

The panel was impressed that:

  • The team aspires to use the 4 mandatory KPIs, and have some understanding of where these may be more or less applicable.
  • The team have a broader understanding of what metrics they can use to track the performance of the service outside of the mandatory KPIs.

What the team needs to explore

Before their next assessment, the team needs to:

  • Leverage analytics to understand where users are being directed to the service from (a landing page would help with this).

11. Choose the right tools and technology

Decision

The service met point 11 of the Standard.

What the team has done well

The panel was impressed that:

  • The team considered the skill set available to them, and chose a technology stack that will meet user needs. 
  • The team is leveraging their organisation's existing platforms to manage backend processes.

12. Make new source code open

Decision

The service N/A point 12 of the Standard.

What the team has done well

The panel was impressed that:

  • The team has committed to host all code on PHE’s public git up repository. They haven’t written any code to date.  

13. Use and contribute to open standards, common components and patterns

Decision

The service met point 13 of the Standard.

What the team has done well

The panel was impressed that:

  •  The team is making good use of common components including:
    • GOV.UK Design System with restrictions.
    • GOV.UK pay as a payment platform.
    • GOV Notify for service notifications.
  • The team is using open source software where possible. 

What the team needs to explore

Before their next assessment, the team needs to:

14. Operate a reliable service

Decision

The service met point 14 of the Standard.

What the team has done well

The panel was impressed that:

  • The team is making use of PHEs existing hybrid cloud infrastructure to leverage the resistance that it provides.

What the team needs to explore

Before their next assessment, the team needs to:

  •     Develop a disaster recovery plan. 

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