Connect with community groups, local leaders, federal agencies, or non-profits who are mission-driven and close to the ground to identify a meaningful challenge to focus on.
Identify an opportunity for federal or local data to make an impact, for example a problem where making data more accessible would solve a problem.
Remember to consult with stakeholders and future users of your tool before you build anything. See more information on conducting user research in Step 3.
See Resources below for a list of roles, which may be combined or adapted to best meet your team’s structure
Include a tech team: data scientists, developers, designers, business thinkers, or anyone else who could help to build the solution.
Reach out to government policy and data experts who may be able to help shape your problem statement or design of your product.
Include User Advocates who work directly on issues related to your challenge, and who work closely with your end-users -- or even better, people who experience the problem directly.
Identify team members who can lead user research, like people who have experience with user-centered design. Everyone should try to ensure the project stays focused on the user and their needs.
Think early about who will maintain the tool once it's built and who will make sure it gets into the hands of end-users. You may want to identify someone on the team who is responsible for determining how to make your solution sustainable.
Link end-users with federal agencies and tech teams and ensure that problem statements and tools meet real needs in the target community
Help to focus TOP on critical challenges facing members of the public
Lead the development of digital solutions, and envision how data and technology can solve problems
Conduct interviews with user advocates, or work with user advocates to set up conversations with your end-users to better learn about their needs, constraints, and preferences for digital tools.
If you're working with a user advocate that does community outreach, learn how they connect with their audience and any challenges they run into.
Consider other methods, like facilitating a design workshop at the start of the sprint to bring user advocates into one room to brainstorm together.
Create a detailed use-case to narrow down a broad problem statement to a specific user-driven issue to tackle.
Use the user-scenarios as examples of user-generated data. You may want to work with user advocates and end users to create similar scenarios that provide a detailed picture of the problem you're tackling.
Jo - LGBT Youth experiencing homelessness
Jo is a 19 year old transgender woman, born and raised in a small town in Idaho.
Samira - Survivor of domestic violence, relocating to new area
Samira is a mother who just relocated to a new city to leave an abusive and highly dangerous partner.
Barb – Neighborhood leader needing data for advocacy and planning
Barb is the Vice President of Riverside Neighborhood Association.
Gerald - Formerly Incarcerated Person reentering society
Gerald is a 35 year old father who was recently released from prison after serving 8 years in prison.
James - Neighborhood leader needing data for advocacy and planning.
James is a semi-retired real estate agent who lives in the Fairmont Park neighborhood.
Jen - Military spouse searching for jobs after moving
Jen is a 35 year old professional, mother of two young kids, and for the last ten years she has been married to Kyle, a Staff Sergeant in the United States Army.
Loretta - Family experiencing homelessness transitioning out of shelter
Loretta, 24, is a single mom of a 4 year-old with autism and a 2 year-old who being tested for the same thing.
Lynn - Section 8 voucher holder/low-income renter searching for housing
Lynn is a 35 year old mother of 3 who has had a Section 8 voucher for the last year.
Supervisor Miles - Rural county official seeking to attract new business/industries
Supervisor Miles is an elected county official who represents Tea County, Virginia, which is located in the Appalachian region of rural southwestern Virginia.
Tanya - Section 8 voucher holder/low-income renter searching for housing
Tanya is a 25-year-old mother of 6-year-old and 4-year-old boys.
Determine what data could address the end-user needs you identified in your user research.
For example, if your user research showed you that youth experiencing homelessness need to access information on shelters and job opportunities through Wi-Fi on their phones, you may want to build a web app and use local government data on library locations, public Wi-Fi hotspots, and shelters.
Identify key characteristics of the data sets you need, such as the level of granularity (e.g., you may need neighborhood or address level information, rather than city level, for the data to be useful) or frequency.
For example, when building a product to help individuals search for jobs, very frequently updated data would be the most useful.
Connect with a federal or local government agency who can act as a data steward for your project. Many data sets are owned by agencies who understand the data in detail and will be able to answer relevant questions.
Use The Opportunity Project's Data Hub to discover issue-specific data recommended by government experts and test-driven by teams working to solve the nation’s biggest challenges. See links in the resources below.
Build according to the user research. Use the data you found during data exploration.
Share the concepts, wireframes, and prototypes early and often. Revise your design and plans based on the feedback you receive.
Conduct user testing or feedback sessions to improve the product and ensure that the people who need it are aware it exists.
Develop a plan for tracking success of your tool, such as tracking number of sessions, users, or downloads via tools such as Google.
Think about how you will connect end users with your product once the tool is released
What will your team need to build into the product to as many people as possible can use it? What types of organizations do you need to work with to help connect your tool with the people it's designed to serve?
Think about how you will maintain the tool over time, or what partners you need to help you sustain and continuously update and improve the tool.
If you're interested in replicating the Opportunity Project sprint process, here is a sample week-by-week timeline. Feel free to adjust your project plan and milestones based on what works for your team.
Week 1: Choose a general problem statement to focus on.
Week 2: Connect with others to form a diverse team. Establish ways to communicate -- such a listserv, online slack channel, or in-person meetups – so that everyone can collaborate and share progress.
Week 3: Conduct user research and identify a user-driven use case for your product.
Week 4: Identify information that could help to solve the problems you identified in your user research, and then find federal and local data sets with the information you need.
Week 5: Start to sketch out a product.
Share sketches, wireframes or a concept pitch to get early feedback from end users, subject matter experts, government employees, and others. Early demos of Minimum Viable Products are part of the lean start-up methodology and lead to faster value delivered to users.
Week 6-7: Continue building based on feedback received from your demo, and continue to explore data and seek ongoing input from user advocates and end users.
Week 8: Conduct another demo and share a more mature and improved version of the product you're building. Seek more feedback, particularly from end users of the tool.
Week 9-10: Keep building, and hold interactive user testing sessions. Plan how you will share the final product with end users and other stakeholders.
Week 11-12: Get everyone involved in the process together to launch the final prototypes or Minimum Viable Products (MVPs).
Beyond the sprint: Continue to improve the tools, share the product with the target end users, and measure your impact.
Consider hosting an event to showcase your product
Use press and social media to spread the word! Use #OpportunityProject.
Create a plan with user advocates to share your product with end-users in the community
Share your code! We highly encourage you to make your projects open source and free for use by the public. A local tool in Baltimore, MD can be used in Austin, Texas, just by using different data sources!
Keep building and improving.
Ask technical team members for a commitment to routine maintenance and improvements to the product.
Talk to user advocates and other stakeholders about organizations that might want to help with sustainability.
Measure your impact: Collect information on things like page views and number of users through Google Analytics, outcomes and how your tool is helping individuals and communities.
Share information on your experience using this toolkit with the whole Opportunity Project community on Slack.
Use the #datafeedback channel to share feedback on things like data availability, access, quality, or formats with data stewards.