Delivering the UK’s new Product Safety Database service
Deliver the UK’s new product safety monitoring system on a tight schedule against an ever-changing backdrop.
As part of the UK’s Brexit preparations, the government needed a new system and process for monitoring product safety issues. The software element, known as the Product Safety Database (PSD), was required to take over from a variety of EU services.
Key to the PSD was a case-management system, to log information and coordinate nationwide responses between the government’s Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) and other agencies, including local authorities and Trading Standards.
The case-management system needed to be live by 29th March 2019 – the then-Brexit date. We had to deliver in an exceptionally complex and fast-moving landscape of EU exit negotiations and preparations.
We designed an optimised service and delivered the digital tools required to support it, while ensuring EU exit negotiators understood the impact of different Brexit outcomes on UK product safety management.
With key factors having changed since the discovery, we ran a short research phase to ensure our subsequent work would deliver on the OPSS’s needs. Following this, the project followed a typical alpha process and GDS assessment, followed by beta.
Service design: Creating optimised digital tools and processes
At the time we were involved, OPSS was a relatively new organisation, still establishing its ways of working. This gave Softwire and the PSD project team the opportunity to create optimal processes for managing product safety, and craft a digital PSD system that supported them.
Our PSD brought together capabilities previously distributed between multiple systems and spreadsheets. It’s the conduit for the sharing of information, assignment of tasks and management of safety issues between the agencies involved. It also unlocks new ways for OPSS to support external stakeholders.
Improving the user experience
A common issue with the legacy systems was the complexity of inputting data, and the resulting difficulty in categorising and reporting issues efficiently. We created the new PSD in line with GDS design standards, to ensure ease of use, high data quality and accurate reporting and management.
Assisting with Brexit preparations
This project took place during an intense period of EU exit planning and negotiations. We worked closely with the OPSS and its parent, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), to ensure those working on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU were aware of our progress and the likely impact of different Brexit scenarios on the management of product safety in the UK.
We ensured the OPSS had the necessary systems and processes in place ahead of its Brexit deadline. Moreover, its new capabilities will help improve the way OPSS protects UK consumers.
By using established Gov.uk services, such as Notify and PaaS, we minimised development costs and accelerated delivery of the new PSD service.
OPSS ready for Brexit
The service passed its GDS alpha assessment, and following beta development, we launched the core functionality ahead of the 29th March 2019 deadline. This ensured the OPSS had the tools and processes in place to fulfil its functions, and was therefore ready for Brexit.
Enhanced capabilities help keep people safer
The digital tools and processes we shaped and delivered have given OPSS new ways to help keep the public safe. Improved interactions between the Office and other stakeholders mean information-sharing is easier and case-management more automated and proactive.