Guidance

GDS spend controls pipeline assessment criteria

Follow this guidance with help from your GDS senior technology adviser to categorise digital and technology activity in your pipeline.

Email the GDS approvals team if you need to know who the GDS senior technology adviser is for your organisation.

You must assess digital and technology spend activities together with your GDS senior technology adviser to make sure they:

  1. Comply with the minimum pipeline standards
  2. Are built upon user needs and research
  3. Use engagement, governance and scrutiny
  4. Follow the Technology Code of Practice
  5. Use established resources and capabilities
  6. Are relevant and collaborative
  7. Have clearly defined mechanisms to identify and monitor benefits

You should assess each standard as either ‘assured’, ‘monitor’ or ‘control’.

If you assess one of the below criteria as control, the overall rating of your activity is automatically classed as control.

If your activity meets assured status for the criteria, you should give it a score of 1. If your activity meets monitor status, you should give it a score of 2. You must then classify the activity using based on the following scores:

  • assured is between 7 to 10
  • monitor is between 11 to 14
  • control is over 14

1. Comply with minimum pipeline standards

You should mark an activity as assured when you have:

  • a clearly defined delivery plan with clear links to a business plan and departmental strategic direction
  • governance and process in place to effectively manage changes to internal and external priorities
  • a clear understanding of the organisational pipeline of current, committed and future work and where the project fits within this

You should mark an activity as monitor when you have:

  • a defined delivery plan but links to a business plan and departmental strategic direction are unclear
  • limited governance and process in place to manage changing internal and external priorities effectively
  • some understanding of the organisational pipeline of current, committed and future work and where the project fits within this

You should mark an activity as Control when it:

  • does not meet the assured or monitor status, has a fundamental failing or is unproven

2. Build upon user needs and research

You should mark an activity as assured when you have:

  • a detailed plan for user research covering a full range of users, including accessibility and assisted digital users
  • demonstrated a deep knowledge of who the service users are and what that means for the design of the service, such as an understanding of any significant design challenges the team needs to overcome
  • user needs expressed as user stories and the service team has explored possible solutions
  • clear evidence available of known user needs and evidence of how the service has responded to these needs
  • comprehensive research, analysis and findings available
  • confidence there is sufficient user researcher time available to the required quality

You should mark an activity as monitor when you have:

  • an ongoing plan for user research and testing but this is not complete or has areas of concern
  • some evidence available of known user needs and evidence of how the service has responded to these needs
  • some user needs expressed as user stories and hypotheses available for further testing or validation
  • a limited understanding of the design challenges and how the service will be iterated to meet user needs
  • not identified and researched a full range of users including accessibility and assisted digital users
  • concerns that sufficient user researcher time is not available to the required quality

You should mark an activity as control when it:

  • does not meet the assured or monitor status, has a fundamental failing or is unproven

3. Use engagement, governance and scrutiny

You should mark an activity as assured when you have:

  • regular and effective review processes that assure the quality of submissions/cases and delivery within your own department
  • governance proportionate to the size of the project and based on clear and measurable goals
  • learned and applied lessons from previous applications and all conditions are adequately met

You should mark an activity as monitor when you have:

  • repeated errors that have yet to be resolved
  • governance that is not fully proportionate to the size of the project and is based on unclear and difficult to measurable goals
  • a conflict with agile methods due to the time needed to complete the required governance process

You should mark an activity as control when it:

  • does not meet the assured or monitor status, has a fundamental failing or is unproven

4. Follow the Technology Code of Practice

You should mark an activity as assured when you have:

You should mark an activity as monitor when you have:

  • generally followed the Technology Code of Practice with any exceptions agreed with stakeholders (including the Cabinet Office/GDS) and put plans in place to resolve exceptions

You should mark an activity as control when it:

  • does not meet the assured or monitor status, has a fundamental failing or is unproven

5. Use established resources and capabilities

You should mark an activity as assured when you have:

  • a clearly defined and baselined resource management strategy and plan (including management requirements) for delivery and Business as Usual spend.
  • a sustainable team through delivery and into service operation, with appropriate internal skills developed (from Beta onwards)
  • a service manager who has the power to make decisions
  • identified and monitored costs, and there is clear management reporting of variances between estimates, actuals and forecasts
  • a pipeline of planned or emerging future work is fully defined and there is clear review and prioritisation
  • clarity of how the project resource represents value for money and good understanding of resource risks to delivery
  • clarity of how the external project resource will transfer knowledge to an internal team

You should mark an activity monitor when you have:

  • not yet satisfied all elements of assured status but a baseline plan is in place to address issues
  • a project delivery team that is not fully defined, not multi-disciplinary and missing key roles
  • a service manager who is not sufficiently skilled or fully-empowered to fulfil the role
  • only identified and monitored some costs and there is limited management reporting of variances between estimates, actuals and forecasts
  • a pipeline of planned or emerging future work that is not fully defined and there is ad-hoc review and prioritisation
  • uncertainty of how the project resource represents value for money and lack of understanding of resource risks to delivery
  • uncertainty of how the external project resource will transfer knowledge to an internal team

You should mark an activity as control when it:

  • does not meet the assured or monitor status, has a fundamental failing or is unproven

6. Make sure you’re relevant and collaborative

You should mark an activity as assured when you have:

  • ongoing and open engagement between the Cabinet Office and your organisation, outside the formal approval process
  • a willingness to seek out and learn from ‘best practice’ and expertise across departments and broader government, as well as to share your own best practice with other organisations
  • good awareness of, and compliance with Government as a Platform
  • early engagement as policy emerges and you actively manage impacts and dependencies
  • clarity around necessary budget and resources
  • recognised user needs can be met by re-using other government service components and show you are actively seeking collaboration

You should mark an activity as monitor when you have:

  • limited evidence of cross-government engagement especially between the Cabinet Office and your organisation, outside of the formal approval process
  • carried out or planned activities to seek out and learn from ‘best practice’ and expertise across departments and broader government
  • some awareness of and compliance with Government as a Platform
  • a lack of engagement as policy emerges and limited recognition of impacts and dependencies or a plan to actively manage
  • some clarity around necessary budget and resources
  • recognised user needs can be met by re-using other government service components but are not yet seeking active collaboration

You should mark an activity as control when it:

  • does not meet the assured or monitor status, has a fundamental failing or is unproven

7. Identify and monitor benefits

You should mark an activity as assured when you have:

  • a clear vision for the service and understanding of appropriate metrics to monitor key performance indicators
  • planned benefits documented and are capable of reporting (baselines in place)
  • clear performance monitoring of benefits realisation, with regular reviews
  • clearly articulated the value for money and return on investment in the business case
  • a clear plan, where appropriate, to increase digital take-up of service and make further enhancements

You should mark an activity as monitor when you have:

  • an emerging vision for the service and understanding of appropriate metrics to monitor key performance indicators
  • some benefits not documented sufficiently to report upon (baselines not established)
  • benefits reviews and/or performance monitoring of benefits realisation that need improvement
  • value for money and return on investment currently being developed/under review as part of the Business Case
  • a draft plan, where appropriate, to increase digital take-up of service and make further enhancements,

You should mark an activity as control when it:

  • does not meet the assured or monitor status, has a fundamental failing or is unproven
Published 30 April 2018