For the password to access the prototype pages linked to in this post, email:

The problem: LA account managers could not view VCS organisations’ services

When we demonstrated the 'Manage' service to some of our partner LAs, they told us they had a need for being able to add, view and manage VCS services.

One of the reasons behind this need was the fact they wanted to be able to monitor the use of Manage by VCS organisations. They needed to be able to do this because:

  • some of the incentives for taking part in the family hubs pilot are linked to how active VCSs are in using it
  • they wanted to be able to check on the quality of data that is being added to the directory and to make sure it is being used correctly

This would also allow LAs to have oversight and responsibility for services being added to the directory in their area. This will help ensure better quality data is added to the directory and people are able to better access support they need.

Adding and managing VCS services

Our first step was to look at whether we should allow LA account managers to add and manage VCS services.

We started this by capturing all our related assumptions on a Lucid Board. Next, we got several members of our team to map these assumptions on a matrix which had importance on one axis and difficulty of testing it on the other. We then analysed the averages of the responses we got so we could identify a priority order for exploring them.

After this, we reviewed them and split them into technical and research assumptions. Based on the average scores, we decided where we needed to do more research to address certain questions and reduce potential risks.

Viewing VCS services

Following the assumption mapping, the next step we took was to start looking at how we might allow LA account managers to view VCS services. This was because it was identified as being low risk and an option we had already validated a user need for.

Giving LA account managers this ability would allow them to:

  • check the quality of services that are being added
  • know when VCSs are using the directory of services


The first option we looked at was for LA account managers to receive an email notification when a VCS adds a service. This would require the least amount of effort in terms of development.

However, we were concerned about the potential number of emails that LA account managers would receive. If this ended up being too high it may overwhelm them, make it hard to track VCS use, and lead to frustration and disengagement.

The second option was to allow LA account manager to only view the number of services added by a VCS organisation. This would also be a quick solution but wouldn’t give them the ability to review the specific details and quality of data for the services being added.

Our solution

The option we decided to go with was to give LA account managers the ability to view all the services for a VCS organisation. This includes the details of the service, the date it was last updated and the status of the service.

We have now updated the LA account manager v6 ‘Manage’ prototype to reflect this. When an LA account manager views a service page they will see the same service details that VCS account managers can view, but without the ability to edit any details.

We didn’t include the ability to edit as we haven’t done enough research on the risks involved and whether LAs definitively need this option. This means we met the identified user need without adding additional functionality which could create potential risks.

Next steps: user research

We are going to continue working with LA account managers to explore if we should allow LA account managers to add and manage VCS services. We will run usability testing on the LA account manager v6 prototype and iterate the designs based on any findings.