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 levels in this role, specifying the skills you need and the corresponding skill levels (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 adopt a portfolio view, managing end-to-end services that include multiple products and channels.

Skills needed 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 can demonstrate knowledge of Agile methodology. You 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 can appreciate the importance of Agile project delivery for digital projects in government. You can be unafraid to take risks and willing to learn from mistakes. 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-centred design, technology and data perspectives. You can understand the range of available technology choices and can make informed decisions based on user need and value for money. You can understand the variety and complexities of digital and data contexts, and can design services to meet them. You can demonstrate knowledge of the wider digital economy and advances in technology.
  • Financial ownership. You can secure funding for Agile delivery through a business case and by making a good pitch in government. You can prioritise spending based on return on investment (ROI) and strategic intent. You can be responsible for contract ownership and accountable for the realisation of benefits.
  • Life cycle perspective. You can understand the different phases of product delivery and can contribute to, plan or run them. You can maintain a product or process through the delivery phases, into live and then into retirement. You can lead a team through the different phases of the product delivery life cycle. You can maintain and iterate a product over time to continuously meet user needs. You can understand incident management and service support to ensure 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 can implement best practice in new product or service development. You can 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 can work closely with other operational delivery teams.
  • Problem management. 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 can use a range of product management principles and approaches. You can capture user needs and translate them into deliverables. You can define the minimum viable product (MVP) and make decisions about priorities. You can write user stories and acceptance criteria. You can effectively work with a range of specialists in multidisciplinary teams.
  • Strategic ownership. You can effectively focus on outcomes rather than solutions. You can develop ambitious visions and strategies. You can get the organisation and team to buy in. You can translate the vision into prioritised deliverable goals.
  • User focus. You can understand users and 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 can show that 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.

At this role level, you will:

  • operate at scale and provide the connection between multidisciplinary business areas and stakeholders
  • ensure 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
  • be responsible for the successful operation and continuous improvement of the service

Skills needed for this role level

  • Agile working. You can 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 can act as a recognised expert and advocate for the approaches, continuously reflecting and challenging the team. (Skill level: expert)
  • DDaT perspective. You can demonstrate an advanced understanding of design, technology and data principles. You can identify and implement solutions for assisted digital. You can apply knowledge to work with other digital, data and technology (DDaT) job families. (Skill level: practitioner)
  • Financial ownership. You can develop an Agile business case and own and iterate it throughout the product life cycle. You can develop benefits with others within the portfolio. You can understand the granularity of financial costs per sprint and the value delivered. (Skill level: expert)
  • Life cycle perspective. You can apply experience in 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 them. You can 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. (Skill level: practitioner)
  • Operational management. You can keep abreast of industry best practice and can cascade ways of working. You can 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). (Skill level: expert)
  • Problem management. You can anticipate problems and defend against them at the right time. You can understand how the problem fits into the larger picture. You can articulate the problem and help others to do it. You can build problem-solving capabilities in others. (Skill level: expert)
  • Product ownership. You can demonstrate knowledge of the tools, terms and concepts used to deliver a product, and how they can be adapted and applied to different phases of delivery. (Skill level: working)
  • Strategic ownership. You can develop a long-term vision and objectives. You can take a discerning and disciplined approach to focusing on what is important and most relevant. You can develop the capability of others. (Skill level: expert)
  • User focus. You can give direction on which tools or methods to use. You can demonstrate experience 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 they’re met by the business. You can apply strategic thinking to provide the best service for the end user. (Skill level: expert)

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Published 7 January 2020
Last updated 30 August 2022 + show all updates
  1. Service owner now includes the ‘DDaT perspective’ skill, at practitioner level.

  2. First published.