FedhealthIT Interviews Mike Deutsch and Sean Fitzpatrick on Human Centered Design

Interview with Mike Deutsch, Chief Growth Officer at CollabraLink and Sean Fitzpatrick, Vice President of User Experience reposted from FedHealthIT

What is Human Centered Design?

HCD is a methodology which puts the end user, beneficiary, or consumer of whatever service you are providing at the center of all design efforts. The basic process includes user research to truly understand user needs and behaviors, design and prototyping of solutions to meet those needs, and iterative testing for usability with representative users. This approach has been in practice in the commercial sector for many years and has been called different names – from human factors, to human-computer interaction, to usability – but the core processes are the same, whether you are designing a walk-in service like you might experience at the Post Office or a digital service, such Ed.gov or Healthcare.gov.

It is interesting to note that HCD as a methodology is often at the core of many service disciplines, including CX (Customer Experience) and Service Design.

Finally, on the Government side, the application of HCD lags a bit behind the commercial sector, but thankfully groups like, USDS and 18F have cast a light on its benefits and leading agencies, such as HHS and CMS, are now focused on meeting the rise of digital citizens, who demand usability.

What are Some of the Challenges When HCD is not Employed?

The biggest challenge we see is when Government teams design and build systems and services that do not meet real users’ needs, which leads to low adoption and high frustration. As an example, we worked on a program looking at a digital communications strategy related to opioid use. The presumption was that the audience would be mental health providers, clinicians, academia. We used the HCD processes and user research to confirm who the actual target audience was and found that the assumption was largely incorrect and in fact, the audience included a large segment of the general population who were NOT medical professionals. That knowledge allowed us to pivot and change the direction of our content strategy and overall user experience design approach.

If we think of a care delivery model like Medicaid and supporting digital services, HCD is being applied with great success to design mission-critical systems and services. As we’ve seen, challenges or misunderstandings within the digital space can delay getting care to those who need it. Our approach is to address real user needs based on user research, making the processes as user centric as we can. The result is a more efficient delivery of Healthcare to the people who need it when they need it.

Why is This Not More Standard?

The HCD process sounds intuitive – and in fact it does yield better outcomes – but we aren’t talking about a trivial amount of time or energy. It’s almost a philosophy and while the payoff is significant, it does take that up-front commitment to research your users and iteratively design user experiences (UX) which meet their needs.

The good news is that there is a happy medium in which HCD can be woven into an Agile framework. There are many methods and tactics (user interviews, contextual inquiries, observation, etc.) that we use to conduct initial research quickly, allowing for prototypes and design solutions that we can get in front of those same users for feedback early and often.

The big thing about HCD is that we build empathy for the user AND our agency-partners who “own” the service. That empathy – for the end user and the agency stakeholder – is essential and ensures buy-in from both sides by the time the final solution is delivered.

Change Management

Getting buy-in to the HCD process is critical, as this process is a big change of perspective for many agencies. We know managing this change is hard and when we think of Government, who has been building systems for a long time with an inward, rather than an external user focus, that transformation can be a real challenge. Once people see HCD put into practice and see the real results, they almost invariably embrace it, but at the outset it requires education for all who are involved the process.

We had a recent experience with a client at CMS who was able to come out on the road with us as we conducted baseline user research. This was the first time they were able to interact with one of their key user groups and listen to how they do their jobs and how the systems in place meet – or do not meet – their needs. We found that the existing systems could be dramatically improved to align more closely with external users’ processes and mental models. It was this exercise that allowed our agency partner to “walk in the users’ shoes” to see where change was needed and really see the impact change could create. Importantly, engaging with the users at this early design stage also lays the foundation for adoption as the products are delivered – they maintain a certain equity in the process.

What Skillsets are Needed?

There are many tools available to facilitate HCD but ultimately it requires experts with specialized skill-sets, namely User Researchers (trained in human factors, human-computer interaction, and cognitive psychology), Interaction Designers (skilled in information architecture and the development of user experience (UX) designs to accommodate complex user flows), and Content Strategists (experts in content modeling, taxonomy, metadata strategies, and plain-language content development.)

What Comes Next?

The USDS Playbook was really the first of its kind for Government and codifies HCD, Agile, and DevOps. While we have been practicing HCD in Government for many years, the Playbook really sets the baseline for forward movement. Sitting where we are today, with HCD, DevOps, and Agile – and with a more cloud centric environment–we have a powerful combination of tools to work with in fulfilling modernization and digital transformation.

In addition, there is a lot of market interest in Intelligent Automation (including Robotic Process Automation) and we see great utility in it. This approach will liberate Government staff to get more done, to be more strategic about what they are doing, and to make what they are doing more fulfilling for the stakeholder, for the end user, and for the Government. We really see these automation use cases as a natural outcropping of the HCD we are conducting – by understanding and developing that empathy for their current situations, we can readily identify opportunities to integrate tools like RPA into the mix to add even more value to the solutions we are producing.

Originally posted on FedHealthIT

CollabraLink Awarded a $3.4M Contract by the Department of Transportation (DOT), Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)

McLean, Virginia, May 11th, 2019: CollabraLink Technologies, Inc. (CollabraLink), a leading Digital Services provider for the Federal government, announced today it has been awarded a $3.4 million one-year contract by the Department of Transportation (DOT), Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) with IT Modernization and Transformation Program Management (PM) support. 

This effort will see CollabraLink apply its capabilities in human-centered design (HCD) and Agile software development to bring innovation and service to assist FMCSA in piloting modernization. FMCSA is embarking on a bold effort to modernize over 30 systems using low code platforms and modern architecture, and CollabraLink will provide the guidance on best practices in creating the right platforms to deliver for the American taxpayers.

“CollabraLink is delighted to partner with FMCA on this important initiative,” said Rahul Pandhi, CollabraLink’s CEO. “Having supported some modernization efforts for other DOT organizations, we are continuing our mission of serving government partners with best practices and approaches to modernize their mission critical systems.”

About CollabraLink Technologies, Inc

CollabraLink Technologies, Inc (CollabraLink), based in McLean, VA is a premier professional services firm that delivers business and technology solutions through consulting and outsourcing services to the government, private sector, and non-profit arena. For the past 10 years, CollabraLink has specialized in custom system maintenance, systems development and integration, technology infrastructure support, and a wide variety of business services, including program/project management, business process support, and mission support services. CollabraLink is a CMMI Level 3 (L3) organization that has invested heavily in creating a process-driven, success-oriented organization focused on achieving our clients’ goals.

Contact:
Rosie Pandhi
Director of Marketing
(202) 257-8572
rosie@collabralink.com
www.collabralink.com

CollabraLink Welcomes Sean Fitzpatrick as CollabraLink’s Vice-President of User Experience (UX) and Human Centered Design (HCD) Practice

McLean, VA, February 19, 2019: CollabraLink Technologies, Inc. (CollabraLink) is excited to welcome its newest Vice-President, Sean Fitzpatrick effective January 31, 2019.  Fitzpatrick holds the position of Vice-President of Operations focusing on the company’s User Experience (UX) and Human Centered Design (HCD) practice, as well as supporting the company’s CMS MacPro team.

Fitzpatrick brings over 23 years of experience in the UX and HCD profession to CollabraLink.  He previously held the position of Principal/Director of User Experience for Booz Allen Hamilton and Aquilent where he built their UX and HCD practices and led teams of over 100 User Experience professionals.  For the past 14 years, he has focused on building teams to design engaging, highly-usable digital services for the Federal government, including HealthCare.gov, HHS.gov, USPS.com, and Usability.gov.

“Sean’s hire is incredibly timely for us,” said CEO Rahul Pandhi. “Our customers are clamoring for continued innovation in the form of Human Centered Design combined with Agile application delivery.  Sean will be instrumental in building the CollabraLink HCD practice ensuring that we bring to bear thought leadership on UI/UX as we modernize government systems.”

Sean is inspired by CollabraLink’s energy and focus on UX and HCD.

I’m thrilled to join CollabraLink to lead their Human Centered Design and User Experience practice,” said Fitzpatrick. “What attracted me to CollabraLink is its clear focus on an integrated Human Centered Design and Agile digital service delivery solution—and the incredibly smart people who design and build these solutions.  I’ve hit the ground running and the innovation and energy coming from our teams is unbelievable and truly inspiring!”

Fitzpatrick holds an M.A. in Human Factors Engineering from George Mason University, as well as a B.A. in psychology and a B.A. in communications from Flagler College.

Since 2003, CollabraLink has partnered with federal agencies across civilian, defense, education and sciences to streamline service delivery while improving customer service and citizen engagement. As one of the most in-demand government contractors today, CollabraLink is committed to providing federal clients with simple and intuitive solutions that increase efficiency and enhance citizen engagement.

About CollabraLink Technologies, Inc

CollabraLink Technologies, Inc (CollabraLink), based in McLean, VA is a premier professional services firm that delivers business and technology solutions through consulting and outsourcing services to the government, private sector, and non-profit arena. For the past 10 years, CollabraLink has specialized in custom system maintenance, systems development and integration, technology infrastructure support, and a wide variety of business services, including program/project management, business process support, and mission support services. CollabraLink is a CMMI Level 3 (L3) organization that has invested heavily in creating a process-driven, success-oriented organization focused on achieving our clients’ goals.

Contact:
Rosie Pandhi
Director of Marketing
(202) 257-8572
rosie@collabralink.com
www.collabralink.com

CollabraLink Awarded Multi-Year Contract by the Department of Labor, Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO)

McLean, Virginia, January 12th, 2019: CollabraLink Technologies, Inc. (CollabraLink), a leading Digital Services provider for the Federal government, announced today it has been awarded a $134,000,000 multi-year Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) by the Department of Labor (DOL) to support their modernization efforts. This effort will see CollabraLink apply its capabilities in human-centered design and Agile software development to bring innovation and service to configure, plan, test, and manage their Appian Cloud-based Case management Platform (CMP).

In 2017, DOL implemented an Appian-based DOL Case Management Platform (DOL CMP), which allowed for the elimination of redundancies and move towards centralization, automation, and increased security. Additionally, it improved case management and ensured its dispersed workforce can conduct mission-critical work efficiently and effectively in a flexible and mobile environment. CollabraLink will provide program management, implementation, test and planning, training and operations and maintenance to support the various DOL organizations to look modernize their systems, support applications and bring efficiencies to all of the DOL’s IT systems portfolio.

“CollabraLink is thrilled to partner with DOL on this important initiative,” said Rahul Pandhi, CollabraLink’s CEO. “Having supported some modernization efforts for various DOL organizations for the past couple of years, this is an amazing opportunity to further demonstrate our solution expertise with Appian and the ability to continue our support that will have a lasting impact for DOL systems.”

About CollabraLink Technologies, Inc

CollabraLink Technologies, Inc (CollabraLink), based in McLean, VA is a premier professional services firm that delivers business and technology solutions through consulting and outsourcing services to the government, and private sector. For the past 15 years, CollabraLink has specialized in supporting agile digital services, low code application development and providing strategic support services.  CollabraLink is assessed CMMI Level 3 for services and development, an investment made in order to create a c a process-driven, success-oriented organization focused on achieving our clients’ goals.

Contact:
Rosie Pandhi
Director of Marketing
(202) 257-8572
rosie@collabralink.com
www.collabralink.com

CollabraLink Promotes Luana Lewis to President and Chief Operating Officer

McLean, VA, January 11, 2019: CollabraLink Technologies, Inc. (CollabraLink) is thrilled to announce that effective immediately Luana Lewis will be serving as CollabraLink’s President and Chief Operating Officer.  Over the last five years Luana has guided and overseen CollabraLink’s many successes spanning operational execution, organizational development, and growth achievement. Luana’s leadership has been instrumental in CollabraLink achieving the results that it has and she is well prepared to continue guiding CollabraLink’s success. 

“This promotion to President is exceedingly well deserved and I cannot think of a better person to entrust leading CollabraLink’s day to day as well as strategic operations,” says CollabraLink CEO Rahul Pandhi. “Luana exemplifies the type of leader we seek to grow at CollabraLink.” 

Since 2003, CollabraLink has partnered with federal agencies across civilian, defense, education and sciences to streamline service delivery while improving customer service and citizen engagement. As one of the most in-demand government contractors today, CollabraLink is committed to providing federal clients with simple and intuitive solutions that increase efficiency and enhance citizen engagement.

About CollabraLink Technologies, Inc

CollabraLink Technologies, Inc (CollabraLink), based in McLean, VA is a premier professional services firm that delivers business and technology solutions through consulting and outsourcing services to the government, private sector, and non-profit arena. For the past 10 years, CollabraLink has specialized in custom system maintenance, systems development and integration, technology infrastructure support, and a wide variety of business services, including program/project management, business process support, and mission support services. CollabraLink is a CMMI Level 3 (L3) organization that has invested heavily in creating a process-driven, success-oriented organization focused on achieving our clients’ goals.

Contact:
Rosie Pandhi
Director of Marketing
(202) 257-8572
rosie@collabralink.com
www.collabralink.com

CollabraLink Welcomes Yoko Jolly as CollabraLink’s Vice President of Operations

McLean, VA, January 7, 2019: CollabraLink Technologies, Inc. (CollabraLink) is pleased to announce that Yoko Jolly joined the company effective December 20, 2018.  Yoko holds the position of Vice President of Operations focusing on overseeing the operations of CollabraLink’s healthcare programs, including CollabraLink’s Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) MacPro program.

Yoko bring over 20 years of experience from Accenture in serving clients in the Federal and Commercial sectors and leading IT delivery pursuits and engagements across a variety of customers.  Most recently, Yoko worked with clients at the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the United States Department of Veterans Affair (VA) on modernization initiatives that included migrating clients to Salesforce, Pega, and Cloud-based infrastructure, as well as standing up Analytics, and Agile and DevOps capabilities. 

“We are excited to bring Yoko onboard at CollabraLink,” said Rahul Pandhi, President of CollabraLink’s CEO. “Yoko’s background in large, high profile enterprise IT systems implementation work for large Federal agencies will immediately set her up to be successful at CollabraLink. Undoubtedly Yoko will propel our Health IT customer base forward on their Digital Transformation efforts.” 

Yoko looks forward to bringing CollabraLink’s unique capabilities to help Clients Bridge the gap between strategy and implementation.

“What drew me to Collabralink was its focus on delivering outcomes, not just great IT,” said Yoko.  “Clients need partners who can be stewards of their vision and business objectives.  As technologies evolve, our industry needs to focus on harnessing its power to further tangible business outcomes, not just add to an already large inventory of the latest tools and technologies.  Collabralink’s approach of driving with user-centered design and delivering in alignment is a compelling way to make certain that outcomes drive solutions – not the other way around.”

Since 2003, CollabraLink has partnered with federal agencies across civilian, defense, education and sciences to streamline service delivery while improving customer service and citizen engagement. As one of the most in-demand government contractors today, CollabraLink is committed to providing federal clients with simple and intuitive solutions that increase efficiency and enhance citizen engagement.

About CollabraLink Technologies, Inc

CollabraLink Technologies, Inc (CollabraLink), based in McLean, VA is a premier professional services firm that delivers business and technology solutions through consulting and outsourcing services to the government, private sector, and non-profit arena. For the past 10 years, CollabraLink has specialized in custom system maintenance, systems development and integration, technology infrastructure support, and a wide variety of business services, including program/project management, business process support, and mission support services. CollabraLink is a CMMI Level 3 (L3) organization that has invested heavily in creating a process-driven, success-oriented organization focused on achieving our clients’ goals.

Contact:
Rosie Pandhi
Director of Marketing
(202) 257-8572
rosie@collabralink.com
www.collabralink.com

CollabraLink Awarded Multi-Year Robotic Process Automation Contract by the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Program Service Center (PSC)

McLean, Virginia, December 5, 2018: CollabraLink Technologies, Inc. (CollabraLink), a leading Digital Services provider for the Federal government, announced today it has been awarded a multi-year contract by the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Program Service Center (PSC) to lead digital transformation efforts. Under this contract, CollabraLink will apply its capabilities in human-centered design and Agile software development to streamline and automate key budget & financial management activities for the PSC Business Office (PBO).

A key aspect of the project will be the thoughtful application of Blue Prism’s Robotic Process Automation (RPA) technology to eliminate manual data entry and processing. By leveraging RPA and a low-code development platform, CollabraLink is poised to transform the manner in which PSC’s Business Office (PBO) manages its product and service offerings.

“CollabraLink is thrilled to partner with PSC on this modernization effort,” said Rahul Pandhi, CollabraLink’s President & CEO. “This is a critical program for PBO as they look to promote cross-team collaboration, streamline workflows, and inject real-time transparency into key business activities. For CollabraLink, this is a tremendous opportunity to apply our expertise with emerging RPA technology to enhance transactional velocity, ensure quality and enable PSC to focus on higher-value work products. Together, we believe this will have a lasting impact on PSC’s operations.”

About CollabraLink Technologies, Inc

Headquartered in McLean VA, CollabraLink Technologies, Inc (CollabraLink), is committed to partnering with federal clients with simple and intuitive solutions that increase efficiency and enhance citizen engagement.  Using strategic expertise and modern delivery practices, we apply the right technology to make government more interactive, productive, and secure.

Contact:
Rosie Pandhi
Director of Marketing
(703) 639-1777
rosie@collabralink.com
www.collabralink.com

CollabraLink Welcomes former 18F COO Josh Bailes as CollabraLink Vice President of Operations

McLean, VA, August 21, 2018: CollabraLink Technologies, Inc. (CollabraLink) is pleased to announce that Josh Bailes joined the company effective July 30, 2018.  Josh holds the position of Vice President of Operations focusing on overseeing the operations of CollabraLink’s Department of Transportation portfolio. 

Josh brings over 10 years of experience in management, business development and corporate operations. Prior to joining CollabraLink, Josh served as Chief Operating Officer of 18F where he oversaw 18F’s delivery and business development on projects as well as serving as supervisor for the cloud.gov director. Josh brings a unique vantage point into the operations and transformation in the federal IT space and is aiming to build on this experience and continue to be a part of the government digital transformation at CollabraLink.

“We are excited to bring Josh onboard at CollabraLink,” said Rahul Pandhi, President of CollabraLink. “Josh understands how to drive impact for public sector clients, period.  His time at 18F has him well versed in how to successfully modernize Federal IT in a cost effective, agile and intuitive fashion. This skillset will serve the CollabraLink customer base well and helps to further solidify CollabraLink’s position as a go-to partner for Federal Agencies in this arena.”

What drew Bailes to CollabraLink was the company’s culture in providing federal clients with simple and efficient solutions to increase efficiencies. 

“One thing that stood out about CollabraLink was the commitment to agile methodologies, human centered design, and development of a devops culture within the organization,” said Bailes. “Those elements are part of the backbone of an organization that can get transformation done.”

“Modernizing government is about partnering at all levels to meet the needs of the users of government systems,” Bailes continues to share. “Industry, civic tech organizations, federal agencies and employees, the Federal Acquisition Service, and transformation outfits like 18F and GSA’s Centers of Excellence must work together to help government better serve the American people and their guests. CollabraLink offers me an opportunity to continue to be part of that transformation on the industry side.”

Since 2003, CollabraLink has partnered with federal agencies across civilian, defense, education and sciences to streamline service delivery while improving customer service and citizen engagement. As one of the most in-demand government contractors today, CollabraLink is committed to providing federal clients with simple and intuitive solutions that increase efficiency and enhance citizen engagement.

“Josh’s experience will provide continued infusion of thought leadership into our programmatic engagements,” said Pandhi.  “Simply put, Josh is an excellent addition to our growing executive team.”

About CollabraLink Technologies, Inc

CollabraLink Technologies, Inc (CollabraLink), based in McLean, VA is a premier professional services firm that delivers business and technology solutions through consulting and outsourcing services to the government, private sector, and non-profit arena. For the past 10 years, CollabraLink has specialized in custom system maintenance, systems development and integration, technology infrastructure support, and a wide variety of business services, including program/project management, business process support, and mission support services. CollabraLink is a soon to be CMMI Level 3 (L3) organization that has invested heavily in creating a process-driven, success-oriented organization focused on achieving our clients’ goals.

Contact:
Rosie Pandhi
Director of Marketing
(202) 257-8572
rosie@collabralink.com
www.collabralink.com

CollabraLink awarded Grant Management Platform Services for the Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration focused on Agile Digital Services and Modernization

McLean, VA, July 18, 2018: CollabraLink Technologies, Inc. (CollabraLink), a provider of management and information technology consulting services for the federal government, announced the award of the Transit Award Management System (TrAMS) and the National Transit Database (NTD) with the Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal Transit Administration (FTA). TrAMS, a full lifecycle grants management platform, allows recipients to apply for Federal funds, manage their programs, and provides a means for FTA to review, approve and oversee the distribution of funds. NTD supports local, state, and regional planning efforts and helps governments and other decision makers make multi-year comparisons and perform trend analysis by presenting public transit data in a simple format. Under these two task orders, CollabraLink will deliver continued operations and maintenance of TrAMS and NTD as well as enhancements using an Agile methodology.

“We are honored that FTA selected us to support their suite of Appian based applications,” said Luana Lewis, CollabraLink Chief Operating Officer. “FTA is a leader in digital transformation and Agile development for the Federal Government. We have an exciting year planned at FTA with our teams blending mature Agile design and development practices with DevOps and automation best practices to yield operational efficiencies. FTA is a digital transformation success story. They are reaping the benefits of faster application development since they have a platform of reusable components and services that accelerates new application development.”

Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal Transit Administration (FTA) provides financial and technical assistance to local public transit systems, including buses, subways, light rail, commuter rail, trolleys and ferries, while also overseeing safety measures and helping to develop next-generation technology research.

About CollabraLink

Headquartered in Mclean, VA., CollabraLink Inc. is a CMMI Level 3 appraised and ISO 9001:2015 certified management and technology consulting services firm. CollabraLink specializes in mission support services, data sciences, and a suite of IT services including digital services management, agile and DevOps, cybersecurity, and infrastructure support. CollabraLink is an organization that has invested heavily in creating a process driven, success-oriented organization focused on achieving our clients’ goals

To learn more about CollabraLink, please visit www.collabralink.com.

National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Services (NESDIS), Office of Project, Planning and Analysis (OPPA) select CollabraLink to manage and provide financial and action support services to facilitate OPPA/s key support functions.

McLean, VA, July 6, 2018: CollabraLink Technologies, Inc. (CollabraLink), an award winning provider of services for the Federal government, is pleased to announced that it has been selected to provide Financial Management and Actions (F&A) support services for the Office of Project, Planning and Analysis (OPPA) within the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Services (NESDIS) line office of NOAA.  This marks CollabraLink’s first task order award on the NOAA ProTech – Satellites Domain contract, a $3B IDIQ contract.

OPPA provides engineering and program management to small-scale flight projects, domestic and international partnerships, and data exploitation initiatives.  CollabraLink’s role will be to support the OPPA’s key support functions through financial analysis and program management.  CollabraLink will provide technical management support; project tracking, as well as provide the necessary support services to maintain efficient programmatic execution.

“We are very excited to have won our first task order under the ProTech contract,” said Rahul Pandhi, CollabraLink’s President. “NESDIS plays a critical role in protecting the Natinon’s security, environment, economy, and quality of life. It is an honor to play a small part.”

About CollabraLink

Headquartered in Mclean, VA., CollabraLink Inc. is an organization that has invested heavily in creating a process driven, success-oriented organization focused on achieving our clients’ goals. CollabraLink specializes in mission support services, data sciences, and a suite of IT services including digital services management, agile and devops, cybersecurity, and infrastructure support. CollabraLink provides federal clients with simple and intuitive solutions that increase efficiency and enhance citizen engagement. 

To learn more about CollabraLink, please visit www.collabralink.com

Contact:
Phil Crowe
Vice President – Business Development
(703) 639-1774