GDS sheds light on new Government Service Standard

GDS sheds light on new Government Service Standard

GDS is revamping the Digital Service Standard to ensure it addresses a range of end-to-end services and complete user journeys, instead of just individual transactions.

Implemented in 2014, the existing standard is a set of criteria that new government digital services must meet before being launched to the public. It has conducted workshops across the UK over the last few months to seek inputs from civil servants in digital, policy, and operational roles, and also from a dedicated Google group.

In a blogpost, GDS said that based on the feedback, it has identified seven key themes that will be considered while designing the new standard.

The theme ‘Support end-to-end services without impeding delivery’ is aimed at ensuring that service designers think about users’ goals and the process that it takes to achieve them, as well as all non-digital elements involved in delivering the service. Under the theme ‘Solve whole problems for users’, the new standard will seek to better align service design with the overall goals users are trying to reach. It said disparate organisations will need to be more open and collaborative to ensure services are designed in this way.

The ‘Promote working across organisational boundaries’ theme will try to codify ways of encouraging organisations to work together, and overcome a perception that doing so increases risk. Another theme identified is ‘Revisit the discovery, alpha, beta, and live phases’. At the workshops, GDS found that some people felt there is a need to provide greater clarity to the definitions of the differing designated stages of a service-design project.

It said: “In particular, there’s sometimes a tendency to arrive at discovery or alpha with a solution already partly defined, rather than using the discovery and alpha phases to learn about the problem and experiment with different solutions.”

Under the ‘Broader approach to accessibility and inclusion’ theme, all means of accessing and delivering and service should be considered when ensuring that a service is accessible for all users.

Furthermore, GDS also mentioned a ‘Don’t break things’ theme. Although the redesigned standard will attempt to foster a more wide-ranging approach to service design, it will also seek to ensure it does not make it more arduous for digital professionals to get the necessary senior buy-in to launch new services.

Last but not least, GDS speaks of another theme, ‘Wider context: culture and governance’, under which professionals from Whitehall’s operations, digital, and policy professions may enter a service-design project with very different expectations and requirements.

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GDS said it intends to introduce the standard in phases, so that service teams have plenty of opportunity to prepare before it is implemented.