Service owner

Find out what a service owner does and the skills you need to do the job.

This describes the role of a service owner and the skills required, including:

  • an introduction to the role, telling you what you would do in this role and the full list of skills
  • a description of the specific role, specifying the skills you need and the corresponding skill level (awareness, working, practitioner, expert)

This role is part of the Digital, Data and Technology Profession in the Civil Service.

Introduction to the role of service owner

A service owner is accountable for the quality of their service. In this role, you will be expected to adopt a portfolio view, managing end-to-end services that include multiple products and channels.

Skills required to be a service owner

You will need the following skills for this role, although the level of expertise for each will vary, depending on the role level.

  • Agile working. You know about agile methodology and can apply an agile mindset to all aspects of your work. You can work in a fast-paced, evolving environment and use an iterative method and flexible approach to enable rapid delivery. You are unafraid to take risks, willing to learn from mistakes and appreciate the importance of agile project delivery for digital projects in government. You can ensure the team knows what each other is working on and how this relates to practical government objectives and user needs.
  • DDaT perspective. You can demonstrate an understanding of user-centered design, technology and data perspectives. You understand the range of available technology choices and can make informed decisions based on user need and value for money. You understand the variety and complexities of digital contexts and can design services to meet them. You have knowledge of the wider digital economy and advances in technology.
  • Financial ownership. You can secure funding for agile delivery through a business case and through delivering a good pitch in government. You can prioritise spending based on return on investment (ROI) and strategic intent: this may include contract ownership and accountability for realisation of benefits.
  • Life-cycle perspective. You understand the different phases of product delivery and can contribute to, plan or run these. You can maintain a product or process through the delivery phases, into live and then into retirement. You know how to lead a team through the different phases of the delivery product life cycle. You can maintain and iterate a product over time to continuously meet user needs. You understand incident management and service support so that products are built effectively.
  • Operational management. You can manage the operational process of designing and running a product or service throughout its entire product life cycle. You know how to implement best practice in new product or service development and know how to plan and put into operation the stages of new product or service development. You can overcome operational constraints to deliver a successful product or service. You know how to work closely with other operational delivery teams.
  • Problem ownership. You can understand and identify problems, analysing and helping to identify the appropriate solution. You can classify and prioritise problems, document their causes and implement remedies.
  • Product ownership. You know how to use a range of product management principles and approaches. You can capture and translate user needs into deliverables. You know how to define the minimum viable product and make decisions about priorities. You can write user stories and acceptance criteria. You know how to work with a range of specialists in multidisciplinary teams.
  • Strategic ownership. You can focus on outcomes, not solutions. You are bold and can develop ambitious visions and strategies. You know how to get the organisation and team to buy in. You can translate the vision into prioritised deliverable goals.
  • User focus. You understand users and can identify who they are and what their needs are, based on evidence. You can translate user stories and propose design approaches or services to meet these needs. You can engage in meaningful interactions and relationships with users.You put users first and can manage competing priorities.

Service owner

A service owner is accountable for the quality of their service. They adopt a portfolio view, managing end-to-end services, which include multiple products and channels. You will be expected to operate at scale and provide the connection between multidisciplinary business areas and stakeholders.

At this level, you will:

  • make sure the necessary business processes are followed
  • participate in the governance of the service, including acting as a point of escalation for the delivery teams
  • own the budget and allocate funding to areas of the service based on your decisions about priorities
  • communicate the benefits and performance of your service
  • ultimately be responsible for the successful operation and continuous improvement of the service

Skills needed for this role

  • Agile working. You know how to coach and lead teams in Agile and Lean practices, determining the right approach for the team to take and evaluating this through the life of a project. You can think of new and innovative ways of working to achieve the right outcomes. You are able to act as a recognised expert and advocate for the approaches, continuously reflecting and challenging the team. (Relevant skill level: expert)
  • Financial ownership. You can develop an agile business case and own and iterate it throughout the product life cycle. You know how to develop benefits with others within the portfolio. You understand the granularity of financial costs per sprint and value delivered. (Relevant skill level: expert)
  • Life-cycle perspective. You can apply experience of multiple parts of the product life cycle. You can recognise when it is right to move forward and when it is right to stop. You can recognise the appropriate deliverables and the right people to meet these. You are able to work with other agile delivery operations throughout the product life cycle. You can plan and engage with the appropriate stakeholders at a particular stage in the project. (Relevant skill level: practitioner)
  • Operational management. You keep abreast of industry best practice and can cascade ways of working. You know how to make operations efficient. You can act as the escalation point for major operational issues and champion operational management across the community. You can work closely with leaders of operational delivery teams in digital, data and technology (DDaT). (Relevant skill level: expert)
  • Problem ownership. You know how to anticipate problems and how to defend against them at the right time. You understand how the problem fits into the larger picture. You can articulate the problem and help others to do it. You know how to build problem-solving capabilities in others. (Relevant skill level: expert)
  • Product ownership. You know the tools, terms and concepts used to deliver a product and how they can be adapted and applied to different phases of delivery. (Relevant skill level: working)
  • Strategic ownership. You can develop a long-term vision and objectives. You are discerning and disciplined in focusing on what is important and most relevant. You know how to develop the capability of others. (Relevant skill level: expert)
  • User focus. You know how to give direction on which tools or methods to use. You are experienced in meeting the needs of users across a variety of channels. You can bring insight and expertise in how user needs have changed over time to ensure these are met by the business. You know how to apply strategic thinking in how to provide the best service for the end user. (Relevant skill level: expert)

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Published 7 January 2020