Innovation Projects
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Research Goals

  • Gain insight into the broad project tracking/portfolio management practices and needs across City departments.
  • Identify and gain insight into the detailed needs of a subset of City departments that would benefit most from a new project tracking/portfolio management solution.
  • Gain insight into the type of information departments want to share with residents and other City departments.
  • Gain insight into the knowledge residents and City staff want to gain regarding City projects.
  • Gain insight into how users want to interact with information provided in a project tracking tool.
  • Gain insight into the level of interest residents and City staff have to engage with City projects.
  • Gain insight into the user experience of existing “Smart” and open government project tracking tools.
  • Form design implications based on insights to guide the prototype and test phase of the project.

Research plan

Desk Research

We researched project tracking tools, processes, and capabilities for City of Austin projects, as well as practices and tools used by other governments.

Main research questions we sought to understand:

  • What project tracking tools and project management systems currently exist at the City?
  • Who and how many are using existing public facing project reporting/tracking tools (CIVIC, new Bond Tool?, etc.)?
  • What project information/data are City staff already collecting?
  • How many “smart” and open government projects are active, planned or completed at the City of Austin?
  • How might we bin departments/offices by current capabilities and infrastructure?

Competitive Analysis: “Best in class” - what online portfolio management/project tracking tools are already out there? Ex. UK, Canada, Mexico, etc.

Documentation from our desk research is here.

List of project tracking tools currently at use by City of Austin departments is here.

Field Research

Conducted in-person interviews with City of Austin staff and members of the public to understand needs, desires, and capabilities for tracking project information.

  • City staff interviews: Conducted 3 group discussions with City staff (7-10 per interview) from various departments in June 2017.
  • Public stakeholder interviews: Conducted 8 in-person interviews with community members active in local issues, between June-August 2017.

Synthesis Methods

Interview Debriefs: Concluded each interview with an immediate 30-60-minute debrief to document on post-it notes key quotes, stories, and takeaways. Post-its were color coded as followed:

  • Teal - knowledge and facts

  • Rose - experiences

  • Magenta - quotes

  • Lime - ideas and suggestions

  • Orange - questions

Pattern Identification: Clustered takeaways from the interviews and identified key themes. These patterns continued to be merged, resorted, and/or eliminated throughout synthesis. We labeled each theme.

Insight Generation: Came up with statements of truth based on patterns identified from the interviews. These statements describe “what is” and try to reveal the truth, needs, and experiences of people involved.

Identification of User Stories: Drafted statements of what users of a project tracking tool need (known as user stories). User stories inform how we design and build a project tracking tool.

Photos and artifacts from research synthesis