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Scoping your service
Start to scope your service during discovery. Your service should always be based on user needs and what’s essential to help users to achieve a specific goal.
You should think about the tasks and project goals you’ll include in the service. These might vary depending on whether it’s:
- connected to other services
- part of a bigger service
Meeting the Digital Service Standard
You must scope your service as part of meeting these points:
- point 1 - understand user needs
- point 2 - do ongoing user research
- point 4 - use agile methods
- point 5 - iterate and improve frequently
You’ll have to explain how you did this in your service assessments.
Why you should scope your service
Knowing the scope of the service will help you:
- decide what your team needs to improve or build
- plan what your team can do in a defined time and within the project budget
- agree with others what work you won’t do - known as what’s ‘out of scope’
- avoid unnecessary or added work - known as ‘scope creep’
- iterate your scope based on evidence of users’ needs
When to scope your service
You should scope your service during discovery, before you start planning, designing or building anything. Find out how the discovery phase works.
By the final week of discovery you should be able to define a scope for your service.
How to scope your service
Start by mapping the user journey of people who want to do the task your service provides.
This will help you understand the end-to-end service and identify all the ways that users interact with it (including all tools, transactions, support and offline steps).
You can also learn more about your users and what they need from your service by:
- reviewing existing evidence (for example, analytics, search logs and call centre data)
- interviewing users
- talking to people in your organisation who deal with users
- talking to third parties who manage or deliver any aspect of the existing service
Scoping your service should give a better understanding of what task users are trying to complete and how your service can help them do this.
Read the guide on Naming your service to help you understand your scope.
Changing your scope
Your service scope might change during a project due to work you do, like user research and data analysis, or things you can’t control, like policy changes.
You can change your scope if you have evidence it’ll create a better service for users. If you do change the scope, consider whether this risks:
- delaying delivery
- increasing cost
- reducing quality
You may also find these guides useful:
- Published by:
- Design community
- Last update:
Guidance first published