Citizens Advice: Procuring and implementing an accessible telephony system
How we helped Citizens Advice to procure, test, iterate and audit a new accessible telephony system.
Citizens Advice is a charity that provides free advice to the public from over 3,200 locations nationally through more than 20,000 volunteers.
Nexer has a long-standing relationship with Citizens Advice stretching back over 15 years. Between 2007 and 2012, we designed and developed the organisation’s award-winning Adviceguide (now incorporated into the main site) and CABlink, the bureau extranet that provides vital information to the network of over 20,000 staff and volunteers nationally. Between 2012 and 2017, Nexer completed a major revamp of the charity’s national digital strategy. Nexer have been working with Citizens Advice for over a decade, and we’ve been gently encouraging the organisation to adopt more modern Agile, user-centred ways of working.
In 2021 Citizens Advice approached Nexer Digital to assist them with procuring an accessible telephony system. We helped them through the procurement to ensure accessibility was embedded in the project approach. Then, throughout 2022 we worked with Citizens Advice product teams, their winning bidder Accenture and users to test, iterate and audit the system. Currently, we’re assisting Citizens Advice with the final UAT testing ahead of the product launch.
Citizens Advice recognised that:
- Their old telephony system was outdated and limited to what it could do.
- This not only affected users but also Citizens Advice adviser's ability to help them.
- They needed a new, accessible telephony system to empower their teams to provide help.
- They needed help to procure a telephony system that was flexible enough to design and build a truly accessible service with.
- They needed ongoing help to design and audit the service as it was being created and rolled out.
Phase 1 – Procuring a telephony system
We worked with Citizens Advice to tailor their procurement process to prioritise accessibility and inclusive design. That way, when organisations were tendering for the project the product team could get a good handle on how important accessibility was to them as an organisation, and also how much accessibility and inclusive design played a part in the creation of the system that they were proposing.
We did this by helping write the questions in the Request for Proposals, assisting Citizens Advice mark responses, and recommending that the procurement phase included product demonstrations. We sat in on these product demonstrations and assisted the team with reviewing and considering the impact on the future service's accessibility and usability.
We helped Citizens Advice interview the shortlisted suppliers and come to their final decision. Citizens Advice felt confident that their selection of the winning supplier's system was the one with the most potential for building a truly accessible and inclusive service.
Phase 2 – Advising and auditing the new service
Our involvement continued in the project, as we acted as Citizens Advice’s specialist accessibility team on the Telephony project. We consulted with the product team and the winning supplier (Accenture) to embed accessibility and inclusive design at the heart of the project.
Throughout the project, we guided and shaped the features of the product to ensure they were not only in line with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines but overall accessibility best practice as directed by our accessibility consultants and usability testing results.
Phase 3 – UAT and user testing the new service
During the User Acceptance Testing (UAT) stage, we conducted further accessibility audits of the new telephony system and presented our findings back to the Citizens Advice and Accenture teams. We worked with Accenture’s test scripts, environments and project team to feed back findings and recommended improvements.
During this phase, we also supported the Citizens Advice team to conduct usability testing with a wide range of users with a diverse range of access needs, so that we could accurately depict where further improvements could be made to the service.
Throughout this 2 year project, we worked in collaboration with growing teams at Accenture and Citizens Advice in a truly agile, one-team approach.
Nexer have been an invaluable partner throughout the transformation of our remote advice platforms. Accessibility was at the heart of our vision for a new platform and with Nexer’s expertise we were able to ensure that this was delivered. Nexer have brought the rigour - and the flexibility - needed for such a significant and complex transformation and we look forward to working with them in the future as we continue to evolve our capabilities.