Thinking Big has been working with Veteran's Affairs Canada (VAC) to roadmap, build, and enhance their e-service capabilities with the My VAC Account application. Its mission is to provide secure, faster service to our Veterans, RCMP members, service men and women, and their families. By using proven methodologies and the latest web technology, our team has been able to optimize development time and the user experience in a cost efficient manner. The result is that in just 3 years, My VAC Account registrants has increased 1000%. VAC is also seeing a demographic shift to younger, contemporary Veterans who are accustomed to doing business online, which means that services and programs, delivery channels and processes must be re-evaluated to respond to modern needs and preferences for online services, without forggeting the traditional Veterans who are over the age of 70.
Feedback continues to be positive, constructive, and focused on improving the overall user experience. We listen to the clients and their feedback forms the backbone of every new release of the application.
In 2012, Veterans Affairs Canada launched My VAC Account, a new e-services initiative that would allow Veterans to have 24/7, year-round access to their account and information on programs and services. With over 700,000 clients, VAC could more effectively serve its client base with an online solution.
Our Government believes Veterans have the right to receive better and faster service, and to access their personal information in the way that they choose when they choose ... With these new tools, Veterans can connect with the Department at any time of the day or night, and from their mobile device.
VAC reached out to Thinking Big for assistance in 2012, and we have been working together ever since. Thinking Big is an information technology company with a strong focus on digital solutions, consulting services, and product development. We are a leader in standards-based, user-first design and development for both web and mobile platforms. A keen understanding of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, Common Look and Feel, as well as the open source tools that are part of the Government of Canada's Web Experience Toolkit (WET), has made Thinking Big invaluable to Veterans Affairs Canada as they continue to evolve their web presence and how they deliver services.
The task at hand was two-fold. Firstly, from a technology standpoint, My VAC Account needed to be upgraded to a new framework that was at the Government's disposal. Doing so would make the application significantly more robust and easier to work with. This objective was a mandate from the Canadian Government that its departments and agencies migrate their active content into Canada.ca over a period of three years and use web services for web publishing and hosting, web search, web analytics, online citizen engagement and social media account management.
Secondly, the roadmap items intended to enhance functionality of the site needed to be prioritized and actioned to maximize the benefit to clients.
The first step was to convert the site from CLF2.0 (Common Look and Feel) Customer Survey Software to the new framework, Web Experience Toolkit (WET3). WET is a Government of Canada led framework developed and maintained by the Government of Canada and external Web communities.
Once converted, the website architecture was restructured to focus more on the user. To ensure optimal usability, the team employed both wireframe and tree testing to design webpages. We then presented these pages to our testers and gave them tasks to complete in order to verify the site was intuitive.
The team then set their sights on building the HTML/CSS website on WET3 using the wireframes, and Oracle as the database. Final testing was completed and the new version of My VAC Account went live.
Fast forward four years and My VAC Account continues to be a key solution for enhanced client service delivery for Veterans Affairs Canada, and has been recognized with several Public Service awards. A solid, proven approach and creative thinking has resulted in a significant amount of innovation on this application in a relatively short amount of time. Some of the functionality for clients now includes: