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Federal Court of Australia
Foundation UX Consultation, Analysis & Design

The Digital Court Program is a major I.T. and infrastructure program being undertaken by the Federal Court of Australia. The target of the program is to transform the entire Australian Federal and Family court systems, moving them into the digital era by gradually eradicating the use of paper in the courtroom altogether.

The program effects 4 seperate courts over 50 locations throughout Australia:

  • Federal Court of Australia
  • Family Court of Australia
  • Federal Circuit Court
  • Family Court of Western Australia

This is looking to be achieved, by no easy means, through the enhancement of the existing bespoke 'Case Management System’ applications and the introduction of a highly customised off-the-shelf document management system built on OpenText - the 'Digital Court File'.

The team consisted at it’s peak of around 50+ individuals on-site at the Federal Courts in Sydney's CBD working across a number of work steams and applications. Skillsets included but not exclusive to:

  • Executive Team
  • Program/ Project Managers and SCRUM Masters
  • Infrastructure & Solution Architects
  • Business Analysts
  • User Experience Analysts
  • Interface Designers
  • Front-End Developers
  • Back-End and Infrastructure Developers
  • System Testers

An agile development methodology was seen as the key to the success of the program, releasing usable features early to internal and external users to ease the transition from a physical to virtual court environment.

All projects within the program ran synchronised 3 week sprints. The SCRUM teams consisted of 6-8 people, including team members from the above skillsets as well as subject matter experts playing a joint business analyst role. SCRUM ceremonies had to be well planned and synchronised in order for cross project team members to participate in all the sessions.

User experience analysis, design and testing played a pivotal role in all aspects of the program. In the early stages of the program, the disciplines were seen by some of the executive team to be more on the aesthetic/ visual plane. However, they slowly came to understand the importance of the practices and methodologies behind the strategic, scoping, structural and skeletal planes of interface & experience design.

One of the greatest achievements of the program from an experience design perspective was this transformation within the executive team to embrace the principles of user centric design. Not only did they see its benefits demonstrated on the ground in user sessions but they also saw the benefits of transferring our design methodology and thinking into other areas of the business such as their comms department.

Responsibilities

Personal responsibilities grew from a one man senior user experience design consultant to managing a 5 man integrated analysis, design, test and build SCRUM team. This inevitably saw the shift from a hands on delivery team member to a design team lead position managing 2 senior experience designers, a junior interface developer and a senior full-stack developer. The role also required liaising with other senior team members and reporting directly to executives.

As a senior user experience design consultant, the initial focus was to work closely with key executives, senior stakeholders, subject matter experts and end-users to produce a comprehensive analysis document. The report set out to define the principles and guidelines that would be the foundation document for the rest of the 2–3 year program. In brief, it detailed key personas, pain points from one-on-one interviews with end-users and contextual analysis observations.

The outputs of the initial analysis fed into the planning and facilitation of user workshops, feature analysis and prioritisation, experience mapping/ user journeys, rapid prototyping and user testing sessions. All the while, the foundations were being set for a lean design approach that could be repeated every 3 weeks to feed into an agile development team.

Once this lean design structure had been put in place, personal responsibilities shifted to managing, maintaining, mentoring and reviewing/ allocating user stories to design team members across multiple project streams. It was a personal responsibility to make sure that quality remained high whilst managing a large backlog of stories and forward planning up to 9 weeks in advance.

It become pivotal to the success of program for all streams and disciplines to have clarity and visibility of what was happening across all projects within the program. This made the role of stream leads an essential one as the effectiveness of cross stream pollination and communication became the pivot between success and failure. As a lead, solid relationships with SCRUM masters, program and project managers were the key to this success.

DCP Program Structure

In forthcoming case studies, other aspects of the program will be covered. In this study we’ll be focused on the foundation stage of the program that consisted of a 3 month foundation analysis.

  • Foundation - CURRENT
  • Case Management System Release 1
  • E-filing for Consent Orders Applications
  • Case Management System Release 2
  • Digital Court File Release 1
  • E-filing for Other Online Applications

Foundation Project Structure

The foundation phase of the DCP for user experience followed the structure below:

  • Business Goals & Alignment
  • Definition of UX Principles & Guidelines
  • One-on-One User Interviews
  • User Group Workshops
  • User Needs & Persona Creation
  • Contextual Observations
  • Feature Analysis & User Journeys
  • Accessibility & Usability Analysis
  • Gap Analysis
  • Initial Prototype Development

Detailed in the case study below is a selection of the activities undertaken in the Foundation phase of the DCP.