Iterating our support for service managers

Just before Christmas we released dates for the next four cohorts on GDS’s Service Manager Induction and Development Programme.

Iterating our support for service managers

During 2013, we took the programme through discovery, alpha, beta, and into live. We reached 30 service managers from 11 departments, who between them cover 15 of the exemplar transformations.

As Paul Slade blogged back in October, each group spent up to 8 days with us at Aviation House, taking part in sessions on putting users first, being agile, and building the team; as well as more specialist topics such as assisted digital and identity assurance.

We’re really grateful for all the participants’ feedback which is helping us continue to improve the programme.

In the follow-up survey to the alpha and beta, service managers told us the programme made a big difference to their network, confidence and knowledge as service managers. They appreciated hearing from experts who have real-life experience of running digital services in government. And they enjoyed the practical exercises and case studies.

Among their comments:

  • “[The programme] gave me the evidence and the confidence to challenge ‘short cuts’… to encourage more focus on regular user testing and change throughout.”

  • “Improved my knowledge and confidence in the agile delivery process… I am now mentoring other delivery teams and facilitating workshops.”

  • “I feel confident articulating the service manager role to others.”

We’ll continue running inductions in small cohorts of up to 10 service managers who can get to know each other and tackle issues as a team. We’ve also invited programme alumni back in to network and share their experiences with each cohort.

For all new service managers on exemplars and 100,000+ transaction services to take part in the programme, we estimate up to 150 participants by Q2 2015.

To make the programme more flexible and open to a wider range of participants, we’ve divided modules between two formats:

  • Induction programme – 4 days to equip newly appointed service managers with the basic knowledge, network and confidence to take the lead in transforming digital services.

  • Open programme – 3 days of more specialist modules to help you succeed and improve in particular areas of the Digital by Default Service Standard.

All newly appointed service managers should book to attend both the induction programme and all 3 days of the open programme. More experienced service managers or others in specialist roles in government may choose to book onto any or all of the open programme modules.

See the Service Manual for more information about the programme in 2014, including a link to request your place.

Follow Matt on Twitter: @mattedgar


  1. That’s nice thanks Matt,

    Could you consider a couple of things while you go through the courses and curriculum.

    1. Would you consider running these courses online; as a way of including citizens – insiders and outsiders – in sharing the learning. You’d appreciate that there’s little difference between open education/research and open government. At least there won’t be by the time we’re further down the track on instituting the kinds of approach which the GDS (and its other country peers) are ‘exemplifying’. (You have no idea how much influence the team would have/is having on the internal/external media/comms guys in places like the EC.)

    2. Would you keep in mind this graphic. The present problem, especially in the Anglo world, is the paranoia about citizen’s singular (mygov) account for all public services. We’re all aware of the privacy reasons for the UK’s “user” design approach for individual public services (and the effect it has on stymieing the development of personalized “inter-departmental” services, like education services) . So it’s understandable that your teams will start at Stage 4 and not stage 1.

    You’ve got the inclusion/induction team starting to do something shortly. If it takes the usual inside vs. outside approach, it’ll just focus on the inside, and individual users (outsiders) of individual services. Maybe there’s a way we could combine a few strategies, and focus on the same users.

    No reason we couldn’t have a few thousand inductees by 2015, and a thriving online community.

    1. Thanks, Simon. We are looking at how we can build on the service manager programme, including using digital tools to reach a much wider audience. As we do, we will follow GDS design principle 10 “Make things open: it makes things better”.
      Thank you also for the link to Arturo Muente-Kunigami’s blog post, including that lovely graphic. Getting all the transactions onto the single domain makes it easier to deliver joined-up service meeting real user needs. The induction programme plays a role here too. It’s a space where service managers from different departments and agencies can get to know each other and spot opportunities for working together.

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