How to share updates (and why they increase public trust)

Posted on January 19, 2022


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A new website project ends with a launch, but your website is never done. When you get feedback, you should report out about what you did. An easy way to do this is a regular update with a list of things you’ve done and things you are doing to improve the site.

Sharing updates increases public confidence and trust in your agency because it shows that you are committed to improving and transparent.

This is a chapter called Share the done/doing from Proudly Serving, contributed by Rebecca Woodbury.

Overview

Working in the open makes things better. By regularly sharing what a team is working on, people can follow progress and give input throughout a process rather than at the end. Done/doing updates help teams celebrate wins, keep momentum, get feedback and build trust.

The problem

Government teams need timely input from stakeholders to deliver services that meet people’s needs. This includes people who will use the services as well as other departments or agencies. Government agencies typically ask for feedback on services, programs, and policies at the beginning and near the end of a project. Teams need tools for getting regular feedback throughout the process of designing services.

The solution

Done/doing updates allow teams to regularly share what they’re working on. People track progress and provide feedback while the work is being done. This allows the teams to make iterative changes throughout the process. These updates also help build trust with stakeholders because they provide transparency and a single message to stakeholders and partners. People interested or impacted can follow along and avoid surprises at the end.

Context

Designing government services and policies that work for everyone is hard. Not only do they need to work for the public, they also have to work for the departments and agencies that are part of implementation and delivery.

To get this right, government teams designing these services need feedback and buy-in from different stakeholders.

Feedback

At the start of a project, input is usually general in nature. This input helps align values, develop guiding principles, and shape goals.

Near the end, significant resources have already been spent and changes are more costly. Feedback can be harder to incorporate at a certain point, depending on timelines and budget.

Teams need ways to get feedback throughout the process of designing and creating new things. This allows them to make small changes and test them. The likelihood of project success increases if the team is able to test iteratively throughout the design process, rather than wait until the end to get feedback.

Buy-in

To be successful, services and policies need buy-in from people impacted by them. Often projects encounter challenges when stakeholders feel blindsighted or surprised by a change.

Teams need ways to keep people informed throughout a project. Updates should be easy to understand and concise. They should include ways for people to give feedback.

If these updates are regular and helpful, stakeholders will feel informed and part of the process. This will create buy-in and increased trust in the process, even if they may not agree with final decisions.

Components

A Done/doing update is a simple blog or news post with links to more information for context if needed.

A Done/doing update has these components:

  • A sentence explaining the purpose of the update and dates covered.
  • A section called “Done” that recaps wins and progress from the week.
  • A section called “doing” that explains what the team is working on the following week.
  • A way for people to give feedback, like a link to a comment form or Github.

Mantras

  • Share the Done/doing
  • Update your status

Checklist

  • Create a template for weekly Done/doing updates.
  • Brand the updates so people know what project the update is about.
  • Include a way for people to provide feedback to the team.
  • Allow and invite stakeholders to subscribe to updates.
  • Share Done/doing updates with stakeholders on your website, social media, and email updates.

Questions to ask

  • Are you getting regular feedback from stakeholders?
  • How do people stay informed about projects they’re interested in?
  • Do projects regularly get derailed at the end?

Learn more

Examples of government teams who used Done/doing posts:

Proudly Serving logoAbout Proudly Serving

Proudly Serving is a playbook helping local governments build people-centered digital public services.

It’s an approachable, actionable resource with specific, practical advice local governments can take to make digital services work for everyone.

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