Case Studies & Our Approach

Contact tracing during the COVID-19 pandemic

Working with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to evaluate and select a vendor for contact tracing in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read the case study in detail

Overview

While working with the Department of Public Health and Environment to develop a solution for contact tracing in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, CDS quickly assessed potential vendors' ability to meet user needs and reviewed data APIs for fit with the agency’s needs. 

Our approach

A typical procurement and contracting process might start with the purchasing agency aggregating a long list of business requirements to identify a vendor that meets every need. This practice can be overwhelming and stressful because it implies that if something is not written within the business requirements, then it won’t be included in the solution. 

Business requirements can be incredibly detailed and are a good way to describe individual features, but they don’t do a good job of describing the bigger system or the overall goals of the program. Often, these requirements are written from a solution-first perspective, rather than a problem-first perspective. There are always countless ways to solve a problem, so when we focus on a single path first, we aren’t able to think creatively about different approaches that might offer better solutions. 

The CDS team believes that product management, user experience (UX) research, and procurement paired together create a strong foundation for a vendor evaluation, selection, and implementation. We start with user research in order to understand the current state of the organization in which the technology tool will exist and to learn about the intended future state. We document through written and visual artifacts like user stories, service blueprints, and diagrams to communicate what the tool should ultimately accomplish for the program. Additionally, as a part of our engagement we can also provide technical review of requirements and analysis of software development lifecycle components provided by vendors. 

We look for vendors that are willing to work in an iterative way so that the agency can adjust what it needs over time as it learns from implementation, rather than feeling pressure to define everything up front. We believe in creating strong and collaborative partnerships with vendors from the beginning so that both parties can meet each other’s needs.


Change management for a technology transition team

Guiding the hiring and organizational processes for a technology transition team with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

Overview

CDS collaborated as a strategic partner for CDPHE, with members of the team contributing to the Disease Control and Public Health Response (DCPHR) Technology Transition Team. This effort included creating change management processes to engage stakeholders, facilitating small group feedback sessions, an inventory of technology tools, and assisting with hiring for new roles. 

Our approach

When an organization is new to implementing modern software development practices like agile or human-centered design, it can be challenging to know how to get started. CDS helps teams on their journey to creating processes that work best for their unique environment. This might include coaching/mentorship, facilitating meetings and strategy sessions, assessing organizational structure, and more. This method works best when CDS is paired with strong organizational leaders who will drive the effort in the long-run. 

Change of any kind will be most likely to succeed when the people who are impacted are included in the decision-making process. CDS can advise on practices that enable participation in the process like collaborative working sessions, open office hours, and regular communication with stakeholders.


 

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