Oct 18

NMDS-SC 2 - the story so far

Posted: 18 October 2018

We know most people are very pleased that the current 10 year old system is being updated.  Many of you have been asking about progress and how it all works so here’s a brief update.

Well the big news is that we passed the Government Digital Service assessment.  This is important for everyone because it means that we are truly designing and building a system based around your needs. 

To get to this stage, we started designing, building and testing prototypes. We worked with lots of actual users and got detailed feedback on what works, what doesn’t, what they’d like to see and how they use the NMDS-SC. 

We’ve focused on a few very specific key tasks that users have to do such as registering for an NMDS-SC account, editing a worker record and the ‘look and feel’ of the new NMDS-SC layout.

Learning from these early prototypes then informs the basis of the plan of action for the next phase, but until we passed the assessment we couldn’t move to the next phase.  So we’re delighted we passed.

A language of its own

Building a service of this size and scale is complicated and has its own language.  To do this we need to work in to an Agile project approach. We’ve designed a quick guide to ‘Agile’ to help explain how we’re building the new service.  Don’t be put off… it’s all focused on putting users at the heart of this exciting and long overdue development.

How it all came about

The Department of Health and Social Care commissioned an initial discovery report in the sector which determined that Skills for Care was the right organisation to be running and managing the NMDS-SC and that the current system was no longer fit for purpose.  They decided to invest in a new system and commissioned a further report to scope out the needs of the users of NMDS-SC (both data inputters and those who use or interrogate the data).

NMDS-SC 2 and the Care Quality Commission PIR   

One very crucial element to all this was to investigate data sharing with CQC to ensure care providers don’t face additional burden.  If anything – they wanted to try and reduce it. 

This was more complex as CQC is currently making digital changes.  The agreement is that we will continue to share news on each other’s developments and keep this open for review.  An in-depth mapping exercise confirmed that like-for-like duplication was minimal but acknowledged that care providers might not see it this way.

The next stage (October 2018 – March 2019)  

This is called Private Beta.  This is where we start to actually ‘build’ the new NMDS-SC according to the priorities agreed. These priorities will include the basic tasks that users have to be able to do on day 1 of using the new service. This will involve users testing what is developed and then making any required changes.  We need lots of volunteers to help us with this user testing.

Phase 3: April - June 2019

Users will be using the new NMDS-SC2 and their data will be moved across to the new service.  This phase is called Public Beta.

Lots of .gov.uk sites have an ‘In Beta’ sign at the top ; this means that feedback from users is still being taken and changes made where required, or, where development is now moving on from the minimum viable product (what users have to be able to do) to the features and functionality  that users would like to have.

June/July 2019 - Live Running

This is where we will start to look at extra functions.  It’s where we move from the ‘must-haves’ to the ‘would-like-to-haves’ and start planning for development.

The idea of live-running is that you continue to meet users’ needs by constant user research and testing. Business cases are then developed based on these user needs and appropriate funding applied for.

It all starts and finishes with you

In short:

How it used to work in the 'old days': some clever wizards sat in a room developing  fantastic  IT systems that made sense to them, then it was launched as a ‘Ta-da!’ moment, only to find that it didn’t make sense for the  people actually using it.

How it works now: ask users what they want and need; build in small chunks; test with users to see if it actually works for them; make changes and test it again.

One term often used is fail fast, learn, test again.

So please bear with us whilst we beaver away – we’ll keep you updated on all the key stages and as we all continue this journey together towards a faster better NMDS-SC2 we wanted to say thank you for everyone who’s helped us get this far.

You can read more about how we're getting things done here.