Essentials for digital specialists
The skills digital and technology specialists across government should have.
These are skills that we would expect all digital and technology specialists across government to have, regardless of their role or function. This mostly involves awareness: knowing what something is, why it’s important and being able to have an informed discussion about it with others.
Some relevant roles: all roles within digital and technology
Understanding the digital transformation
- the government’s digital and technology agenda
- why the government is changing the way it does digital and technology projects
Current status of the digital transformation
- awareness of what’s happened so far with digital and technology transformation, including the launch of GOV.UK and the adoption of the department exemplars
- recognising what this means for departments and agencies
Digital and technology awareness
Following wider digital trends in the industry and what their effect may be on future government services, for example, the significance of big data, open source tools and Open Document Formats (ODF).
- the stages of service creation - from discovery through to live
- how services can be maintained over time until they’re retired
- what digital take-up means
- what techniques can be used to increase it
Accessibility to services
- what digital inclusion and assisted digital mean
- how we can help all the population use digital services in future
Agile delivery awareness
Ways of working
Understanding the shift from traditional methods of delivery in government to more agile methods.
Working as a team
Understanding that rather than just being a set of tools and techniques, agile is a mindset based on the core concept that people and developers must work closely together throughout a project.
- being familiar with the principles in the Agile manifesto
- understanding how they apply to products and services
Recognising that agile teams must focus on early and frequent delivery of outcomes that satisfy the business need.
- working in multidisciplinary teams
- being willing to support work that isn’t part of your core role
- developing a shared understanding of each other’s strengths and weaknesses to enable collaborative working
Identifying user needs
Requires understanding how:
- the user-centred design process must start with identifying and thinking about real user needs
- to determine user needs
- to measure how successfully user needs are met
- the value of user research
- how it can best be used to understand user needs
- how continuously doing user research helps teams to:
- concentrate on real user needs
- design products and services that are prioritised based on user needs
- iterate products and services in response to user feedback
Writing user stories that detail user needs.
Design principles for digital services
- the GDS design principles
- how they should underpin the creation of all products, services and digital interactions
Meeting the service standard
- the Digital by Default Service Standard
- how it acts as a benchmark for the quality of government services
Commercial skills and vendor management
Effective commercial management
Understanding that effective commercial management (including procurement) is important to delivering high quality services that improve continuously.
- awareness of internal government procurement rules and EU procurement regulations
- understanding the importance of following a robust supplier and evaluation process to minimise the risk of delivery delays
Managing different types of contracts
Awareness of the impacts of moving from large, long-term vendor contracts to multiple small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) vendors.
Government processes and frameworks
Open standards and open source technologies
Understanding open standards and open source technologies and the part they play in driving digital transformation and avoiding third party vendor ‘lock-in’.
Core cyber security principles
- awareness of core security principles
- ability to identify the security features that may need to be built into a service
Knowing who the security experts are within your organisation and how to contact them for consultation.
Government Security Classifications
- understanding the implication of the overall Government Security Classifications (GSC) approach
- ensuring that systems implementation takes account of GSC principles
- key principles of identity verification
- how to employ the appropriate measures to assure a user’s identity when they use government services
- being aware of the GOV.UK Verify programme
- understanding how it can be used to meet the identity assurance needs of users, services and departments
Being social media savvy
Monitoring social media
Monitoring the media activities of your department and GDS through online channels and social media. (Note: as a minimum you should track the names of your department and any associated ministers or high-profile staff members.)
Being engaged in online communities relevant to your field of work in order to support your work and improve your skills.
Social media guidance
Awareness of social media guidance for civil servants. When engaging in social media as a civil servant:
- first learn the rules of each social media space
- abide by the Civil Service Code and ask for advice if you’re not sure
- remember that an official account belongs to the department, not the individual
Communicating with non-technical people
The Government Service Design Manual contains guidance on what it means to be part of an agile, user-focused and multidisciplinary team, delivering digital services in government.
See this introductory guide on using open internet tools to develop your digital skills and productivity.
The Digital Foundation Day is a one-day workshop for people delivering services in government.
The Digital Business Academy offers free online courses on digital business and delivery.
The Government Communication Service has produced an interactive guide to the Professional Competencies Framework. This includes competencies around digital communications and channels.
The technology code of practice gives guidelines for the approval of technology projects and spending.