Service assessments and applying the Service Standard

Become a service assessor

Who sits on an assessment panel

Assessment panels are made up of:

  • lead assessor
  • user researcher
  • designer - any type of designer with the relevant experience can be a design assessor, including content designers
  • technologist
  • analyst

A lead assessor is a very experienced specialist assessor, or a product or service manager who is confident assessing all aspects of multidisciplinary team working (with input from specialists in those disciplines).

The lead assessor is responsible for:

  • setting the tone of the assessment
  • keeping things moving and making sure the assessment finishes on time
  • managing discussions, including any areas of disagreement
  • working with the service assessments team at the Central Digital and Data Office (CDDO) to finalise the assessment report

They also have the deciding vote if the panel is undecided on what the outcome of an assessment should be.

What being an assessor involves

Most people who take part in service assessments do so alongside their day job. So you’ll need to decide whether you’ve got the capacity to do it.

A typical assessment lasts about 4 hours. Usually the service team presents and demonstrates their service, then the assessors ask questions to establish how the service meets the Service Standard.

You can read more about what usually happens at a service assessment.

As well as making time for the assessment itself, you’ll need to spend a few hours:

  • reading the briefing documents and familiarising yourself with the service ahead of the assessment
  • attending the pre-assessment meeting
  • attending the pre-assessment tech call (for technologists)
  • writing up your section of the assessment report

Being an assessor is a skill that takes time to develop, so we encourage assessors to commit to being involved on a regular basis. Most assessors do roughly one assessment a month.

These things mean that being an assessor is a significant commitment. One way to make sure you can allocate enough time to it is to do assessments as your corporate objective. This allows you to set aside a few hours each month for assessments.

Why it’s good to be an assessor

As an assessor you’ll be part of the wider digital government community. You’ll have come into contact with practitioners from outside your department, get inspired by what others are doing and take away ideas to inform your own practice.

You’ll also be sharing your knowledge with the community. Being an assessor involves more than just pointing out what teams have done well - it’s also about coaching them through the things they need to improve.

It’s important for the teams being assessed to know they’re being assessed by one of their peers - someone who understands the sort of environment they’re working in and the constraints they’re likely to be facing.

How to become an assessor

Start by contacting the person or team in charge of service assessments or assurance at your parent department (or your agency’s parent department), if you have one. They will usually have a process for working out whether you’ve got the right amount of experience and can set you up as an internal assessor within your department.

If you want to assess services across government, you’ll also need to contact the service assessments team at CDDO at dbd-assessments@digital.cabinet-office.gov.uk. Copy in the person or team in charge of assurance at your parent department (or your agency’s parent department).

You’ll get an email back to tell you what happens next. If you’re invited to become an assessor for services across government, you’ll be asked:

  • for details of how long you’ve been in your role and why you’d make a good assessor
  • whether you want to be a lead, design, user research, technology or analysis assessor
  • to provide an endorsement from your department’s head of community or profession, or line manager

You’ll then do assessor training and observe 2 assessments before taking part in an assessment. The process takes between 1 and 3 months, depending on how much experience you’ve had.

In the meantime, it’s useful to start familiarising yourself with the Service Standard and what happens at an assessment.

Last update:

Guidance first published