Digital services articles

Two clear signs that you might be underinvesting in your platform

April 11, 2024

As agencies use platforms to deliver better customer experiences for their digital services, issues occasionally crop up. In this blog post, we talk about 2 common ones we’ve seen, what they mean, and how to fix them.

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How emerging-large companies can help agencies like GSA best achieve their goals

March 26, 2024

We believe that emerging-large technology companies like Ad Hoc offer the right balance of expert skills, deep knowledge, and capacity for individualized attention that can help you transform your services.

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Plain language for the win: Improving customer experiences with clearer communication

November 08, 2023

Plain language may be just one facet to improving customer experience across the federal government, but it’s a powerful way agencies can make their services more accessible to everyone. Learn how the Department of Labor created plain language resources that empowered state unemployment offices to create equitable content for millions of people across the country.

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Ad Hoc named a WordPress VIP partner

November 01, 2023

As part of our mission to help organizations deliver people-centered digital services, Ad Hoc is excited to announce we’re now a WordPress Silver Agency VIP partner.

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Funding: The essential ingredient to successful digital modernization

October 30, 2023

Adequate funding is key to helping teams redesign government services to be more efficient and user-friendly. Read this blog post to learn why funding is so important and how agencies like the Department of Labor are using it in their digital modernization efforts to upgrade critical public benefits.

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One year since the President’s executive order on customer experience, and much remains to be done

December 15, 2022

A year ago, the Biden administration released the Executive Order on Transforming Federal Customer Experience and Service Delivery to Rebuild Trust in Government, commonly referred to as the CX EO.

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Why defining your product is an essential question in government digital services

December 09, 2022

One of the most important questions in government digital services is “what is our product?“

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Platforms: More value, more quickly, more securely

October 27, 2022

Adopting a platform strategy should be a key component of how government agencies design and deliver digital services.

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A look under the hood of the new student loan debt relief application

October 21, 2022

As we did with covidtests.gov, let’s take a quick look and see what we can learn about the implementation of this application from a systems design perspective.

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How to use product operations to scale the impact of government digital services

October 19, 2022

We’ve found that product operations can help scale impact by putting objective indicators at the center of product decision-making.

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How to build a data team when you’re not sure where to start

September 27, 2022

Using data to improve government digital services is crucial. But before you can build your data team, it’s important to understand the various data roles and data team structures that can help you maximize your impact.

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Accelerating the ATO process with a platform approach

September 20, 2022

Building compliance into a platform can accelerate security approval, which can also help speed up delivery of critical services to the public. In this post, we’ll explore how it’s done.

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Building a trauma-informed research practice

September 06, 2022

Through our trauma-informed research practice, we’re working to help agencies better understand trauma. From there, we can help them improve how they meet individuals’ needs by offering assistance without triggering existing wounds or creating new ones.

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Using a product approach to build and modernize APIs

August 23, 2022

Hear from our team who spoke at the CMS Convergence event about how we use a product approach when developing APIs and the benefits that come from doing so.

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A quick study in the benefits of a cohesive cross-functional team

July 26, 2022

The benefits of working on a cross-functional team are many, and the experience is impactful for both the team and the customer. Let’s look at an example at how the flexibility of this kind of teaming helped us successfully produce under both time constraints and changing needs.

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The carrots and sticks of platform governance

June 30, 2022

Taking an iterative approach to governance implementation will help you find a balance between the levels of written, automated, and manual enforcement to meet business and user needs without introducing unnecessary restrictions. Here are some recommendations.

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Making the right thing the easiest thing: human-centered governance for platform adoption

June 27, 2022

The way you choose to implement governance processes can make or break your platform’s adoption and level of success.

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The building blocks of platforms

June 13, 2022

We talk about platforms in terms of reuse of services, separation of responsibility, and platform “building blocks.” Framing platforms this way helps teams articulate the design, prioritization, and strategy of their platform.

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Building a mentorship program for product managers

May 25, 2022

We’ve created a supplemental APM mentorship program that provides a place for aspiring product managers to grow and experienced PMs to teach.

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Introducing the Ad Hoc Product Field Guide

April 25, 2022

With this guide, agencies can start moving from a project management mindset to a product-based approach to delivering services that enable them to better serve the public.

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The right benchmarks

November 30, 2021

While government websites don’t need to match or outpace commercial websites on design novelty or retention metrics, they should aim to outperform on ensuring users accomplish their goals easily and efficiently.

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Using CX to align goals for improved service delivery

November 22, 2021

We believe customer experience should serve as more of an active “sense and respond” function that helps agencies reduce friction to service delivery, rather than just a passive reporting role.

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With existing tools, the IRS could connect people with healthcare

May 19, 2021

CMS and IRS could use the digital infrastructure and information they have today to help millions of tax filers find affordable or free healthcare, thereby reducing the number of uninsured people in America.

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How to make vaccination an efficient and equitable process

March 02, 2021

Let’s talk about how governments can change course to create a vaccination process that improves equity and takes the burden of finding appointments off of individuals.

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How to start improving your COVID-19 vaccination digital service

February 12, 2021

We’ve gathered a short list of ways state and local governments can improve their services now and prepare for the upcoming phases of the vaccination rollout.

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Prototyping a COVID-19 vaccination verification app

January 28, 2021

Ad Hoc has created a prototype that would allow Medicare beneficiaries to check their vaccination status in an easy-to-use web app.

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Ad Hoc’s 2020 reading list

December 22, 2020

To wrap up 2020, we wanted to share the highlights from our book clubs and other staff favorites to inspire your winter reading list.

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Imagining an app to simplify student loan forgiveness

December 18, 2020

What’s needed is a simple, purpose-built website to help borrowers apply for loan forgiveness, and help them stay enrolled in payment programs.

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The impact of internal incentives on product outcomes

December 15, 2020

Agencies that take the time to set outcome-based North Stars, align their internal incentives to reward outcomes, and empower their product owners are better prepared to build excellent products for the public.

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How bad incentives can lead projects astray, and how to set things straight

December 08, 2020

While there is a great deal written about how perverse incentives can lead to unintended outcomes, we wanted to focus on how using the right incentives can drive the right behaviors — both at the individual and organizational levels.

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The new Ad Hoc Government Digital Services Playbook

August 18, 2020

The 2020 version is now a standalone playbook that any federal agency can use to replace enterprise software with proven techniques from the world of commercial software.

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How agencies can scale up digital services in the wake of COVID-19

July 21, 2020

Every agency, from federal to local, needs to envision a way they can serve their constituents with as little in-person contact as possible.

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The problem might not be COBOL

July 10, 2020

The government’s problem isn’t using old code or older programming languages. The problem is often that they’re using code that wasn’t designed to meet the needs of people who use it.

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Modernizing how Medicare beneficiaries find and enroll in coverage

April 09, 2020

Our approach to the Medicare Plan Finder was to build a tool and process that would allow us to continuously improve what we provided to beneficiaries and those who support them.

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Four myths about applying human-centered design to government digital services

February 20, 2020

While human-centered design (HCD) is gaining traction, its underlying concepts are sometimes misunderstood. This can mislead teams into thinking they’re working in a human-centered way when in fact, their work is largely driven by requirements.

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The case for listening to enterprise users

November 12, 2019

For companies that rely on consumer sales, there’s a clear business case for creating intuitive, pleasurable user experiences. But what about situations where the consumer or end user is not the customer? Where the organization is the customer, there may seem to be less incentive to design around the needs…

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Design systems in government: How to ease handoffs

October 11, 2019

The end of a contract and subsequent transition represents a risk: not only will the system potentially sit idle or be forgotten, but the culture change you’ve been trying to effect may stop as well.

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Design systems in government: When to start

October 03, 2019

These two systems provide a helpful contrast for what it looks like when you begin a project with a design system and when you add it later. Let’s dig in.

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Design systems in government: Improving documentation for better collaboration

September 26, 2019

In this post, we’re going to provide some guidance on building or maintaining the documentation for design systems, but many of these concepts could easily apply to other types of projects.

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Design systems in government: Communication is critical

September 18, 2019

Design system communication is a two-way street. Establishing a strong communication strategy to get information from teams using the design system and provide the core team with information is critical for its success.

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Design systems in government: Less can be more

September 12, 2019

Let’s examine two directions you can take when creating a government design system: incorporate everything into the design system, or make the design system as small and flexible as possible.

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The 21st Century IDEA Act Playbook Part 5: Scaling design systems

September 10, 2019

The details of how the Office of Management and Budget will interpret this mandate into regulation are still to be determined, and it’s important that those regulations provide a smart, flexible way for agencies to adopt the USWDS.

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The 21st Century IDEA Act Playbook Part 4: Prioritize modernization with user research

September 04, 2019

The 21st Century IDEA Act mandates that every agency prioritize public services that need modernization. The best way for agencies to prioritize their services is to thoroughly research how users interact with those services.

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The 21st Century IDEA Act Playbook Part 3: Customized, mobile-friendly experiences

August 26, 2019

Today, we’ll finish up the first section of the IDEA Act with the final two requirements for public websites and digital services.

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The 21st Century IDEA Act Playbook Part 2: Search, security, and serving users

August 21, 2019

In this section, I’ll continue looking at the IDEA Act’s new requirements for public websites and digital services, including a deep dive into what it means to design services around the needs of your users.

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The 21st Century IDEA Act Playbook Part 1: Accessibility, appearance, and overlap

August 15, 2019

Reading the IDEA Act, I saw much of how Ad Hoc works with our customers on government digital services. I thought it would be helpful to share our experience in implementing these kinds of digital services.

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Defining digital services and what they mean for product teams

August 14, 2019

We don’t have a shared definition for what government digital service means. This post offers one perspective by outlining how we think about digital services and how these ideas relate to our product practice.

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A case for incremental change and accessibility

June 18, 2019

As we consider accessibility, we also need to keep in mind the impact of disruptions, particularly for audiences who rely on predictability and for whom recreating their accommodations can be a painful process.

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Becoming stewards of the social infrastructure

May 03, 2019

As an organization committed to improving social infrastructure, we must also put our research, design, product, and engineering skills to work on all aspects of public service delivery.

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Ad Hoc receives Contractor of the Year award

November 13, 2018

The awards recognize leadership, innovation, and commitment to excellence among contractors, executives, and program partners in the Greater Washington, DC, area.

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A phased approach to modular contracting

May 30, 2018

Using multiple, small contracts does not necessarily guarantee this result, but you can build better products and get better at incorporating new information as you go.

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Getting great people on government contracts

March 20, 2018

Most contracts I’ve seen have a period of performance that starts the day after the award. That doesn’t give the winning vendor much time to assemble an excellent team.

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Staying agile in a shutdown

January 22, 2018

Today marks the first workday since the federal government shutdown. As a federal contractor helping run several large systems, we seek to be of greatest use to our customers and for the people we all seek to serve.

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Ideas for creating mobile applications for Veterans

October 25, 2017

Recently, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs released a Request for Information looking for ideas in how to create mobile applications for Veterans. Here’s a summary of our response.

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