Employment Program of BC

September 2013 – March 2014

Note: All work products for this project are protected under NDA. For more details, please contact me directly.

The Project

The Employment Program of BC (EPBC) is the province of British Columbia’s official employment assistance program. While the program is administered by the BC Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation, the program’s services are actually delivered by contracted Employment Service Centres (ESCs) in 73 geographic catchment areas across the province who use the extranet to deliver services to their clients. In order to ensure that ESCs are providing the correct services to the correct clients in the correct manner, the EPBC Extranet was originally designed and developed in preparation for the EPBC program launch in April 2012. It housed policy and procedural documentation as well as other resources and tools for ESC staff. However, the original extranet was extraordinarily difficult to use – content findability was a consistent and pervasive challenge for all users, both Ministry staff and contracted ESCs, due to a combination of ineffective search functionality and poor information architecture; content currency was questionable; linkages between related content was non-existent; and content additions and updates followed a challenging and poorly communicated process – so much so that some ESC staff and ministry staff actually refused to attempt to find information on it.

Number 41 Media was contracted to conduct user research with both ESC staff and Ministry staff throughout the province and then to apply the research findings to the complete redesign of a brand new extranet. As the lead researcher, I was responsible developing the research plan, scheduling behavioural interviews, organizing travel and other logistics, conducting behavioural interviews, and analyzing the raw data to provide a research findings and recommendations report. As the sole information architect, I am currently working on applying the research findings and recommendations to the development of an information architecture that meets the information and service delivery needs of the extranet’s key user groups.

Research

Particularly because of the volume of content on the existing extranet, an environmental scan was absolutely necessary in order to fully understand the subject matter and the program area. 234 pages later, my understanding of the subject matter and program areas had been significantly enriched. Yet my understanding of the various user groups’ information and service delivery needs  remained stagnant. After consulting with  the Minister’s project leads, I formulated a research plan and worked with the project leads to develop and reach out to a list of potential participants. Interviews were scheduled for November-December 2013 throughout the province. The results of and recommendations based on these research sessions were presented to the client in January 2014.