Digital Service Standards for Wales

Put simply Digital Service Standards are a set of standards that anyone can follow to make sure that the needs of the user are always at the centre of the way services are designed and delivered.

An uncompromising focus on the needs of service users should be at the heart of the way we deliver public services. Agreeing, adopting, promoting and sustaining a set of standards for digital public services in Wales is key. At CDPS we want to support the people who deliver public services in Wales to meet standards that will improve the experiences of people in Wales. Checking in regularly against an agreed set of standards can provide focus, pace and challenge.

This approach isn’t new. In fact, governments in the UK and worldwide have introduced service standards and use them to design and deliver services that work. There are some great examples of these at https://www.gov.uk/service-manual/service-standard and https://playbook.cio.gov/.

Not wanting to reinvent the wheel we’ve used these as the basis for an initial set of digital service standards for Wales. And we believe that Wales does need its own standards. Our needs differ and our policies and approaches should be reflected in the standards we set. An example of this is the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 A world leading approach, exclusive to Wales, this Act sets out the7 well-being goals of Wales we should all be working towards. Embedding these into our new digital service standards can help accelerate and promote their adoption in public service delivery in Wales — providing better services for current and future generations.

We’ve created a first draft of our digital service standards which you can find below and now we’d like to hear what you think of them. What works, what’s missing and what’s needed to make these the backbone of all public sector service delivery in Wales?

On Wednesday 7 October we’ll be hosting a webinar ‘Digital Services Standards for Wales, what’s needed and why?’ The webinar is open to anyone with an interest in public sector service delivery in Wales. Join our Programme Manager Tim Daley to learn more about the thinking behind these standards and give your input and feedback into the final draft. You can sign up here or get in touch with us at info@digitalpublicservices.gov.wales with your feedback.

Draft Digital Service Standards for Wales

This is an alpha that we’re sharing in the open for feedback.

We’ve taken inspiration from other digital standards around the world (including those published by the Welsh government). They explain what’s expected from new or redesigned digital services, funded by Welsh public sector organisations. We want to collaborate with people across Wales to iterate and improve on this version.

1. Focus on current and future well-being of people in Wales

2. Promote the Welsh language

3. Understand users and their needs

4. Iterate and improve frequently

5. Use data and user research to make decisions

6. Consider ethics, privacy and security throughout

7. Every service needs an empowered service owner

8. Every service needs a multidisciplinary team

9. Use scalable technology

10. Work in the open

In more detail:

1. Focus on current and future well-being of people in Wales

We’re here to make a positive difference to the lives of people in Wales. We should be driven by outcomes that benefit them, not by lists of technical specifications or requirements. Digital service design means thinking about the future as much as we think about today. Teams should consider the well-being of future generations, and think about the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of Wales. Services should contribute to the 7 well-being goals of Wales.

2. Promote the Welsh language

Services in Wales should meet the needs of people who use the Welsh language in their everyday lives. Teams should design and build services that promote and facilitate the Welsh language, and treat users who speak it equally with those who prefer English.

3. Understand users and their needs

User needs should drive service design, whoever those users are. User needs matter more than the constraints of business structures, organisational silos or technologies.

Teams should aim to address the user journey from start to finish, understanding the different ways and channels people will interact with services, whether that’s online, over the phone, or in person. Public services are for everyone, so considering accessibility is essential. Every encounter, online or offline, should move a user closer to their goal.

4. Iterate and improve frequently

We should use an incremental, fast-paced development approach to get working software into users’ hands as early as possible, as often as possible. This will help teams rapidly iterate, based on user feedback.

5. Use data and user research to make decisions

We should constantly measure how well services are performing for users. Teams should use performance data to find and prioritise improvements. Where possible, that data should be automated and real-time, to make it as objective and easy to collect as it can be.

Teams should conduct user research on iterative changes to their services. Senior leaders should take part in research on a regular basis, to stay in touch with the work.

6. Consider ethics, privacy and security throughout

Digital services must protect sensitive information and keep data secure. Teams should assess, understand and address ethical issues associated with all digital services at every stage of their development.

7. Every service needs an empowered service owner

There should be a single empowered service owner who has the authority and responsibility to make all business, product, and technical decisions about a service.

The same person is accountable and responsible for how well the service meets the needs of its users, which is how its success will be evaluated.

8. Every service needs a multidisciplinary team

Teams are how we build services for Wales. Each one should be a diverse mix of people, experience, expertise and disciplines.

As well as having the right mix of skills and experience for the current stage of development, the team should be able to explain how the make-up of the team may change over time, and what funding will be needed to support a team responsible for the service’s continuous improvement.

9. Use scalable technology

We should make technology decisions that help teams do their work and deliver. We should always aim to use the simplest, most appropriate tool, and avoid vendor lock-in to specific technologies.

Teams should be empowered to use the tools that work for them, and encouraged to consider tools that meet open standards, are cloud-based, and that have widespread adoption and support.

10. Work in the open

We should aim to make the services we build, and the techniques we use to build them, as open as possible.

As they develop a service, teams should communicate in the open about the decisions they’re making and what they are learning. They should also share code, patterns and insights as freely as possible to help others seeking to build excellent public services in Wales.

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