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City of Surrey, Single Family Building permit

Product / Service Design


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Project Info
Project Info


Context
Context


Risk & Challenges
Risk & Challenges


Research – Service Ecosystem
Research – Service Ecosystem


Value Proposition
Value Proposition


Product Preliminary Design
Product Preliminary Design


UI & Interaction Design
UI & Interaction Design


Development
Development


Continuous Improvement
Continuous Improvement


Takeaway
Takeaway

An online application to apply, track, and receive a building permit

[2017 to 2020]

City of Surrey, one the fastest growing cities in BC, Canada

 

Issuing building permits is one of the most common yet complicated services that all the municipalities offer to their citizens and the land development community. It is a long business process (up to two years) that involves many internal and external stakeholders. Until 2019, the city of Surrey didn’t have an online application supporting this permitting service. During a long time of the application process, the applicants had no visibility to their application process, which would lead to a lot of extra communication happening to obtain such information.

City of Surrey, one of the fastest growing cities in Canada

Identified risks and challenges

Co-Design workshop; gathering feedback on the mockup printout

Defining a product within a complex service delivery

Build or buy! We quickly found out that there was no product in the market to deliver the envisioned value at the time.

Service Blueprint mapped in collaboration

We set our initial goal to understand the MVP product requirement and create a road map for the future through some holistic research activities:

Service Blueprint – digitalized

Since there was no existing product to buy or compare in the market, we looked into other sectors with similar problems. We got the most inspiration from looking into Canada’s citizenship requests in the immigration process which also takes a long time. 

Problem solving within a lengthy service delivery

Based on our research, we recognized the four major milestones in the cycle of customer interaction with the city related to building permits. For each stage, we defined the pains and what we needed to put in place to deliver meaningful values for the business unit and the customers: 

Application Intake 
Application type questions to initialize the application request process
Application Process  
Application Result  
Applicant being able to directly download the permit
Post permit-issued 
Applicant being able to apply for additional related permits – Continuous Improvement stage

Product Roadmap, MVP, and Product Flow

The product team (Design lead, business analyst, and digital services manager) helped the business unit establish a roadmap and define the first version to release, focusing on  the Intake, Application Process and Application Result (excluding the chat/comment feature due to the complexity). I led various design activities to help the team collaborate at this stage:

Our design principles for this project:  

 

Refining by iterations: 

Working with external software developers

 

Due to capacity limitation, a significant part of the application development, including the frontend, was outsourced, which needed a collaborative relationship between the in-house design team and the external developers: 

Continuous improvement over four years

The project’s first release was a beta one to a small group of builders and designers requesting more than 30% of all the building permits. Through a feedback cycle, we identified a set of features to design and implement in the subsequent releases: 

Designing for scale 

 

Municipalities’ land development services are challenging and very complex areas. It is vital to break down the complexity into small pieces and understand the real constraints as soon as possible. While working on broken-down problems, it is also crucial to keep thinking multiple scales to maintain the meaningful relationship between micro-decisions on UI and interaction level with the product vision and roadmap. 

 

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