Digital and technology skills

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

Government direction

Involves understanding:

Current status of the digital transformation

This involves:

  • 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).

Service lifecycle

Involves understanding:

  • the stages of service creation - from discovery through to live
  • how services can be maintained over time until they’re retired

Digital take-up

Involves understanding:

Accessibility to services

Involves understanding:

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.

Agile manifesto

This requires:

  • being familiar with the principles in the Agile manifesto
  • understanding how they apply to products and services

Iterative delivery

Recognising that agile teams must focus on early and frequent delivery of outcomes that satisfy the business need.

Collaborative working

This involves:

  • 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

User-centred design

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

User research

Requires understanding:

  • 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

User stories

Writing user stories that detail user needs.

Design principles for digital services

Involves understanding:

  • the GDS design principles
  • how they should underpin the creation of all products, services and digital interactions

Meeting the service standard

Requires understanding:

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.

Procurement regulations

This involves:

  • 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

Awareness of government procurement processes and frameworks available such as G-Cloud, Digital Services Framework and the Digital Marketplace.

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’.

Cyber security

Core cyber security principles

This requires:

  • awareness of core security principles
  • ability to identify the security features that may need to be built into a service

Consulting experts

Knowing who the security experts are within your organisation and how to contact them for consultation.

Identity assurance

Government Security Classifications

This involves:

Identity verification

Involves understanding:

  • key principles of identity verification
  • how to employ the appropriate measures to assure a user’s identity when they use government services

GOV.UK Verify

This involves:

  • 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.)

Online communities

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

Communicating technical and agile concepts to non-technical people.

Learning resources:

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.