Working at pace to fight coronavirus

Delivering a robust and user-friendly form in a day for BEIS to help support the manufacturing of ventilators during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Digital experience
Digital form

About the project

Helping BEIS make the difference

When time really is of the essence, organisations need delivery teams and strategies that they can rely on to get the job done. 

Delivering at pace does not mean compromising on standards or performance, but it does require a specific mindset. Small, dedicated and expert teams help to ensure that effective communication and oversight is maintained on each element of the project. 

Even when working quickly, it's important to stop and interrogate the solution. Asking questions such as: 'Why this?' and 'What will happen next?' enables delivery teams to propose different tiers that can be delivered sequentially as time allows, or come up with something simpler if the current proposal doesn't fully fulfil its aims. Acknowledging that error rates may increase under time pressure is also essential, in order to build in opportunities to check and revert decisions where necessary.

Working with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is a government department promoting UK business and innovation.

As part of the government’s response to the covid-19 outbreak, BEIS asked businesses nationwide to offer their support in the production of ventilators and ventilator components. Our team worked with BEIS to create a digital form to collect businesses' information, building and publishing the form in just one day. 

Our process to execute this project

Key to this project was pace, as BEIS needed the form to go live within a day. We therefore deployed a small squad – two developers and a product manager – to tackle the challenge. 

We used the GDS front end kit to develop a form with the required questions, building on a Heroku application, with a PostgreSQL database and Fathom analytics. Once live, we then iterated the form over the next two weeks to make it increasingly robust and user friendly. This involved key principles of Product Thinking. We kept a small team for rapid responses, always asked questions of ourselves and the quality of our solutions, and held twice daily standup meetings to quickly adjust priorities as needed. 


When BEIS asked for help manufacturing ventilators, its call centres and email accounts were quickly overloaded. Our digital form therefore provided a much more efficient way of collecting businesses' details, ensuring that no offers of assistance were missed. Thanks to the development of this form in a single day, the government was able to proceed with the production of ventilators - a key aspect of its response to the coronavirus crisis. Iterating the form over the next two weeks then enabled us to improve the service for users.

In less than a fortnight the form had over 200,000 unique visits and collected more than 5,000 responses, which we delivered to the Cabinet Office via BEIS. As a result of our work on the form, BEIS was contacted by multiple bodies who were looking to deliver similar rapid response work.

Let's work together

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