Digitisation of Bereavement Services

Full Application: Not funded at this stage

The processes within B&NES Bereavement Services for burials, cremations and memorialisations are inefficient and outdated meaning the service is unable to maximise income generating opportunities.  A discovery project would uncover ways to build capacity and create efficiencies to both improve the customer experience and support the growth of the service.

Both national statutory forms and local memorial / interment forms are paper based.  Data is rekeyed into two separate legacy databases.  No data is shared between the two databases, nor beyond e.g. with Funeral Directors who mediate part of the process.  Processes are inefficient and lack resilience.  There are also legal constraints which need to fully understood.  This includes investigating how current laws are applied and how changes could be applied to support a national digital solution for registering deaths, burials, cremations & memorialisations.

Many customers who are burying or cremating loved ones do not live locally.  We would like to understand how these customers would prefer to interact with the service e.g. self-serve online for at least some of the process. However, the current forms and website will not support self-serve in current format.  There has never been formal customer research in this area.  If carried out, this would inform how the future service should be delivered from the customer point of view.

There is no interaction or relationship with the B&NES Registrars service and we would like to investigate what the opportunities might be for sharing customer data and information to support business growth in Bereavement Services.

This project will be led by B&NES but will be resourced by a combination of internal B&NES staff and external partners procured through the Local Digital Fund.  Bristol will also have input but B&NES will be responsible for establishing the multidisciplinary team to carry out the Discovery research.

We will organise work into Agile sprints and establish regular standups, show and tells, planning meetings and retrospectives.

Through an initial Inception Workshop with key stakeholders from B&NES & Bristol Registrars and Bereavement Services we will identify links and common opportunities and fully establish what a successful outcome would be for the service.  This will also help to prioritise service goals and problems.

Key tasks and dates will include:

Deadline Event / activity Milestone
18 December 2018 Project kick off meeting Project started
11 January 2019 Inception workshop with partners Consensus on common opportunities, problems and prioritisation
21 January 2019 Core team established, people allocated to the project Multidisciplinary team ready
21 Jan 2019 Data collection and analysis
23 Jan Build user personas

Map Current user experience

Users for research identified
22 February 2019 Plan research

Form hypotheses for user research 1

Carry out user research to test hypotheses

User research 1 complete
20 February 2019 Form initial process improvements

Plan research 2

Initial processes produced
01 Mar 2019 Product options analysis

Service Blueprint first draft

Key benefits identified

Co-design workshop

Product options outlined
06 Mar 2019 Co-design workshop
08 March 2019 Plan research

Form hypotheses for user research 2

Carry out user research to test hypotheses

User research 2 complete
16 March 2019 Iterate processes Process produced
22 March 2019 Processes tested Process finalised
29 March 2019 Write up and share the project findings:

Business case

User research report

Recommendation report

Discovery outputs produced and shared

Other in-house Cems and Crems teams are struggling with similar paper based processes and inefficiencies which prevent a focus on customer needs. They also restrict the ability to  increase income and reduce costs.

Allowing a means for customers & Funeral Director to self serve will reduce the need to staff to be involved in data capture and some processes altogether, freeing them up to support those customers who cannot use the internet or who are elderly.

There will be a Reduction in print and post costs

Reduce the cost of lost / missing paperwork and rework from difficult complex forms being incorrectly completed by customers and funeral directors

Reduce duplication and re-keying of data into disparate databases

Facilitate increased sales opportunities and released capacity to focus on valuable work e.g. improving and monitoring site safety.

A redesigned solution could be offered wherever local councils are still delivering this service or considering options when re-negotiating contracts with delivery partners.

If the project were to move to Alpha stage, any solutions would be created using open standards to enable full sharing.  Contribution to a standard set of processes and patterns for the service.

We have been in discussions with Northumberland to investigate the potential opportunity to join up and to cover both the initial death registration process (their project will cover Registrars including births and marriages) and the subsequent bereavement services process.  Although approached separately we will continue to share outputs and collaborate on the connections and synergies between Registrars and Bereavement Services.  Particularly where there is an evident interface and potential to improve data sharing.

We will include Bristol and Northumberland in show and tell meetings and outputs (using conferencing where appropriate) and seek input and feedback from all relevant stakeholders.

We will share outputs using suitable templates and easy to access documentation (e.g. via googledocs and sheets).  We’ll post updates to Slack and provide links to relevant shareable data and user research outputs.

We will gather financial and qualitative information from project partners and other organisations to explore potential savings and benefits across other authorities. In addition, we will look at data on authorities currently delivering services through a partner and implications for investigating an in-house delivered service for those contracts under review.

We would expect this Discovery project to provide the following:

  • Identify the real issues with the current customer experience, particularly online with journey mapping and user research outputs
  • Identification of a new and improved customer experience and what the business benefits of this are
  • Identify staff time savings
  • Identify reductions in postage, printing and other costs
  • An understanding the constraints and implications of change to customer experience and processes
  • Detailed understanding of the implementation of the desired outcomes at Alpha stage

We will produce:

Output Action
Business case
  • Cost (time and money) likely to be saved through automating processes and providing online forms
  • Cost (time and money) likely to be saved through improved automation and digitisation of paper based processes
  • Cost (time and money) and likely causes of, delayed invoice approval and payment to contractors.
  • Cost / benefit analysis of potential changes to existing LOB systems and how laws are applied
User research report We will publish all outputs in a suitable summary format for sharing.

  • Clear identification of issues experienced by range of customers
  • Willingness / ability of users to move to online communications, any likely blockers to this.
A summary report & recommendations
  • ‘To Be’ user journey maps
  • Solution and technology options
  • Data sharing opportunities
  • Suggested approach to progressing to Alpha

The users are the recently bereaved – who have buried, cremated or memorialised a loved one

  • We will carry out research using a variety of methods including:
  • Create user personas, empathy maps
  • Face to face interviews
  • Carry out surveys/questionnaires
  • Analytics analysis
  • Observation
  • Analysis of existing feedback
  • Review and gather feedback on current website offers

Main objectives will be to:

  • Understand the needs of users of the service
  • Understand how external factors (e.g. policy) impact the service
  • Understand the scope of the problem
  • Test initial findings and begin to consider potential solutions
  • Understand internal/external constraints
  • Identify the skills required to explore and develop the solution further
  • Help communicate the vision for the service

Advice and assistance from MHCLG when required – e.g. how best to share and get feedback on outputs.

Continued access to platforms e.g. Notify