Pick My Project is a community grants initiative that gives Victorians the chance to apply for funding for any project ideas they have that will make their community a better place to live. The Victorian Government partnered with Katalyst Interactive to purpose-build the Pick My Project website. The initiative engaged with more than 95,000 Victorian voters with 48% of those in rural and regional areas. 237 projects would be funded as decided by the public.The initiative was recognised in 2019 for its achievements, winning the AMY award for Social Good.
Pick My Project
Pick My Project engaged with the whole of Victoria to allocate $30 million dollars in public funds.
The core challenge of the initiative was how to engage with all Victorians so they can propose community projects, and through public voting, give away $30 million dollars of government funding. This is done through participatory budgeting (PB), a process of democratic deliberation and decision-making, in which ordinary people decide how to allocate part of a public budget.
The Department of the Premier and Cabinet (DPC) assembled a project team to deliver the initiative. They found there was not a digital product readily available to deliver to the scale, complexity, and timeframe of the Pick My Project initiative.
This initiative was the first of its kind for Victoria, and the online voting process would need to be easy to use, fair to the whole of Victoria including remote regions, and inclusive of the diversity of backgrounds and perspectives. The design must also adhere to the digital engagement guidelines defined by DPC’s digital engagement team used across government websites.
"Everyone wants their experiences of services to be useful, easy and consistent and government is no different. But often, their time on government websites gets complicated and frustrating."Jithma Beneragama,
Director of digital engagement at DPC
With experience in delivering custom systems at a state level, Katalyst was selected by the Victorian Government to build the Pick My Project website. Katalyst worked on similar initiatives with South Australian government, which had received acclaim, winning a Good Design Award (Fund My Neighbourhood) and the United Nations Community Engagement award (Fund My Community).
Katalyst’s team facilitated workshops with the DPC project team. Together they developed the voting process by iterating through user journeys and system workflows. An Agile approach was used to deliver features for each phase of the initiative in a series of sprints (Agile term for a block of time). This approach produced an evolving solution as new requirements were discovered.
Katalyst forged a strong relationship with the project team at DPC. Working remotely from Adelaide, the team at Katalyst held regular catch-ups with DPC in Melbourne. Trust was critical to how the initiative was delivered, with both parties working closely to design and development fit-for-purpose software for each phase of the initiative.
UX and Interface Prototypes
The first phase of the initiative was to open the user registration for Victorians to submit their idea for a project. Various user interface prototypes were created to find the right balance so that each idea submission contained the required information to approve the idea while not making the process too complicated.
User Journey Refinement
The refinement of user journeys was critical to achieving successful online engagement across the broad community demographic throughout Victoria. Katalyst’s user experience designers worked with DPC to refine each user journey through a series of iterative feedback loops and testing with different user groups.
To reduce the administrative work, Katalyst developed system workflows that automate the approval process across key stakeholders who need to review and approve each submission. Using the approval workflows developed by Katalyst, DPC were able to quickly identify idea proposals that needed further refinement to reach a level that could be approved for voting. Following a review of submissions, around 90% of these progressed to the voting stage.
Insight and analytics capability was provided through data exports to Microsoft PowerBI where DPC developed visualisation dashboards to gather insights about the initiative. This allowed DPC to map regions where engagement in the initiative was weaker and contact councils to promote and encourage more submissions in those communities.
For marketing and communications, DPC used SalesForce CRM and Marketing Cloud. Katalyst’s development team integrated the Pick My Project website with SalesForce API. This approach gave DPC enterprise software capability in the backend while providing a purpose-built online experience for Victorians to fit the community and initiative.
The initiative received thousands of idea applications. With all ideas submitted, DPC performed testing simulations of the voting algorithms for different regions. Katalyst produced prototypes to enable DPC to test and refine the voting system. This ensured a fair voting outcome for communities across Victoria.
Mapping for Voting and Analysis
Mapping was fundamental to the design of the Pick My Project website. It determined what ideas to show to users for voting, what community region and council an idea will be developed in, and if a metro or regional voting algorithm is applied. Katalyst designed a precise mapping system that used Google Maps to retrieve council boundaries and classify ideas into their regions.
To vote for ideas on the Pick My Project website, new users select their location from a map and step through a registration process. With so many ideas on offer, a shortlist feature was developed to add up to six ideas to deliberate on while browsing through submissions.
Voting data from the website was analysed using Microsoft PowerBI. This gave DPC the capability to measure voting engagement across different regions, and use this data to make decisions on how to improve engagement.
Katalyst designed the system to categorise votes by both region and council to allow DPC to calculate numbers, allocate budgets, and determine the winning ideas.
A key insight from other initiatives was the administrative workload to manage a participatory budgeting initiative. Katalyst designed an assessment workflow that automated the approval process between stakeholders such as the council and land holders. The workflow saved time by verifying the submission as well as efficient exception handling for non-typical submissions which there was a large volume submitted to the initiative.
The Department of The Premier and Cabinet published a list of winners on the Pick My Project website. The initiative engaged with more than 95,000 Victorian voters with 48% of those in rural and regional areas. 237 projects would be funded as decided by the public. After the winners were announced Katalyst worked with DPC to develop a new blog feature so updates could be provided to the community as each winning proposal progressed.
"This is a great day for communities right across Victoria – with hundreds of wonderful local projects getting the funding they deserve."Daniel Andrews,
Premier of Victoria
Following an overwhelming response from Victorians across the ideas and voting phases of this initiative, the Victorian Government has decided to run Pick My Project as an annual initiative. DPC have continued the relationship with Katalyst to deliver the Pick My Project website.
- Over 2400 ideas submitted
- 284,000 votes
- 237 projects funded. 120 in metro, and 117 in regional and rural.
- 10% voters aged 65+ and the oldest voter was 105 years old
- Over 95,000 Victorians voted
- 2019 AMY award winner - Social Good
In 2019, Pick My Project was recognised for its achievements through the use of digital, winning the AMY award for Social Good campaign and product.