HISTORIC ENVIRONMENT SCOTLAND
Historic Environment Scotland is a large organisation with the purpose of preserving Scotland’s incredible monuments, castles and other historic sites. With over 330 properties to manage, organising maintenance can be challenging, and information is hard to keep track of.
I was brought into the organisation to help establish the Properties in Care Asset Management System (PICAMS). This groundbreaking internal product was designed to be a one-stop-shop for all information relating to HES’ historic sites, from location and boundary information to maintenance issues and repair work.
From humble roots, this tool has since become a cornerstone of HES’ internal digital toolkit and has demonstrated dramatic increases in efficiency across the organisation.
My initial engagement with the PICAMS team was to provide UX support and deliver a series of discovery workshops to uncover user needs. This then evolved into wireframing and prototyping work, including regular user testing, information architecture and eventually full-fidelity UI design.
Coming into a small agile team, I led early UX discovery workshops and activities with HES works managers from across Scotland. From this I established the core goals of PICAMS and was able to provide clarity to a potentially messy product by retaining focus on the main user requirements. This early engagement with our users also helped to build empathy within the development team, and by the time we had finished we had a really clear idea of the problems we needed to solve.
After establishing this overall strategy, I began prototyping out the core functionality. Working in agile sprints, I rapidly iterated through paper sketches to a high-fidelity interactive prototype in Figma. I established a design system (based on atomic design principles), allowing me to quickly put together new layouts in full fidelity and thereby provide clear direction for the development team as they started to establish the underlying technology.
As development ramped up I began user testing to ensure our designs remained on-track. I also conducted a series of remote and in-person card-sorting workshops and surveys to establish our information architecture.
A particular win came during the initial Covid-19 lockdown in early 2020. The entire HES estate had closed to tourists, but the process of reopening safely was a hugely complex task to manage. Our team was called in for a rapid 3-sprint pivot to build a system to manage this process and keep track of the various checks that needed to take place. Thanks to the modular nature of the design system, and our laser focus on user goals, we were able to re-use a lot of existing code and quickly deliver an internal dashboard to HES stakeholders. This tool became fundamental to HES’ reopening in late 2020.
The PICAMS product is undergoing continuous development. Feedback from within the organisation (both users and stakeholders) is overwhelmingly positive – for me it has demonstrated the incredible value of modern design and UX practices, even within more traditional development environments.
“PICAMS is one of the best things to come out of HES in ten years.”