GDS revamps service standard assessment process

Written by Rebecca Hill on 30 November 2016 in News
News

Teams building government digital services will have regular visits from an assessor during development under a new approach to standards assessment being trialled by the Government Digital Service.

The new process will involve continuous meetings rather than relying solely on one final assessment - Photo credit: Flickr, Eric E Castro, CC BY 2.0

The digital service standard – a set of 18 criteria that all services with more than 100,000 transactions must meet to progress to their next stage of development – was established in 2014 as a way of ensuring quality.

However, departments have increasingly seen the process as arduous and stressful, with teams calling for more regular contact with the assessors at GDS rather than seeing the final assessment as a test.

In a blogpost describing its own move away from the GDS approach for internal assessment of services with fewer than 100,000 transactions, the Ministry of Justice’s Emily Hall-Strutt said that the process had become “pretty painful”.

“Service teams were stopping delivery for up to a fortnight to prepare for what felt like an exam,” she wrote.


Related content

IT spending controls are set to change, says new GDS leader
Department of Health creates ‘lo-fi’ version of service assessment
Unlocking the power of big data


The GDS standards assurance team has now taken a similar approach to the MoJ, and is trialling a new process that will offer delivery teams more advice and support from the start.

The new model will see assessors visit teams regularly, with a lead assessor assigned to each team to help them identify risks or areas that need improvement throughout development.

These lead assessors will also bring experts in particular areas, for instance user research, to the visits to offer “less formal recommendations” ahead of a final assurance stage.

Assessors will also be able to attend team meetings and have access to the whole team – at the moment only five members can go to an assessment – to cut down on some lines of questioning.

For instance, GDS said, it would make questions about how teams work in an agile way redundant, because this would have been observed at the team meetings.

There will still be a final assurance step, which will see the lead assessor bringing a colleague to peer review the service team when a service is ready to progress to the next stage.

However, the post added that are still some issues with the proposed process that GDS needs to iron out.

These include how to make the model sustainable – service teams are located across the UK and there may not be enough trained assessors across the country to go round – and how to resolve differences of opinion.

GDS said that it hoped to get ideas on how to address these from the trials it is running with departments over the coming months.

The team also said that it was planning to approach the changes in service assessment “as we would a digital service transformation”, with further identification of user needs and repeated tests and iterations.

Earlier this month, GDS revealed plans to simplify the process for assessing open standards, and the body’s new leader Kevin Cunnington – who took over in August – has indicated that spend controls for digital projects costing more than £100,000 will be relaxed in the future.

Share this page

Tags

CONTRIBUTIONS FROM READERS

Please login to post a comment or register for a free account.

Related Articles

Can the GDS innovation strategy deliver a lasting legacy for government?
14 August 2019

Government's new Innovation Strategy set out ambitious proposals to update processes, eliminate ageing kit, and embrace emerging technologies. PublicTechnology caught up with...

Start-ups can show the way to public sector transformation
27 August 2019

Hanna Johnson of tech accelerator Public believes that transforming citizen services will require government to adopt new ways of buying and using technology

No spending review until next year, chancellor confirms
12 August 2019

Technology projects awaiting news of future long-term funding will need to wait until 2020

Related Sponsored Articles

Digital Transformation: Connecting and protecting with perfect predictability
10 September 2019

How can you stay ahead in the fast-paced world of digital technology? BT describes how it's a matter of focus... 

How to stay ahead of a changing threat landscape
3 September 2019

The security threat landscape is confusing and changing rapidly – there’s so much out there, how do you understand where the true risks are? BT offers insight from their own experience

The cyber security skills challenge: Hiring for tomorrow
27 August 2019

Organisations must alter their approach to cyber security recruitment in order to combat the global shortage of security professionals, writes BT 

Augmented Intelligence: digital transformation with humans in the loop
20 August 2019

BT reviews an event looking at how man and machine are working together to drive digital transformation