Complete our quick 5-question survey to help us improve our content.

  1. Service manual
  2. The team
  3. Service owner induction programme

This 6-day induction programme aims to give service owners the basic knowledge, network of colleagues and confidence to take the lead in transforming digital services.

Who should take part

This programme is designed for newly appointed service owners who complete the programme in groups from across government departments and agencies.

How to book

The GDS Academy delivers the service owner induction programme. To book a place on the programme, email


The course costs £1,128 (inclusive of VAT). Your department needs to pay for your place on the programme, so please make sure you have budgetary approval to attend. Your department will also need to pay for any accommodation, meals and subsistence expenses, in line with your departmental policies.


The course takes place in London. The venue will be confirmed once you’ve booked.

Upcoming dates

The course is offered once a month and takes 6 days.

Course Dates
June 2018 12, 13, 14, 26, 27 and 28 June

Learning outcomes

We aim to deliver a purposeful, well-structured programme with practical activities in every session. We’ll cover:

  • how to research and identify user needs
  • how to put users first in the design and development of your digital service
  • a practical understanding of agile working
  • the Service Standard, so you know what your team needs to do to build a quality service and pass a service assessment

Throughout the programme, you’ll hear from digital leaders, other service owners and specialists so you can understand what their roles do and how they work together.

Pre-learning requirements

Each group on the programme has a course lead with a good knowledge of GDS and the topics covered. Before you attend, you’ll need to complete a short phone call with them so they understand your role and learning needs.

You should also familiarise yourself with the Service Manual. Good guides to start with include user needs, agile and the Service Standard.

What you’ll learn

The induction programme includes the following modules:

Why are we here?

Together we’re leading the digital transformation of government, by making services so good people prefer to use them. This introductory session explores:

  • why we need to change the way government does digital
  • what’s happened so far, including the launch of GOV.UK and the transformation programme to make 25 major services digital
  • what this means for agencies and departments in general and for the role of service owner in particular

Design principles

A set of simple but powerful Design Principles underpins all the work done by GDS to develop the award-winning GOV.UK website and government digital services. In this session your group will:

  • discover the 10 design principles and how they were created
  • hear from a product manager who has put the principles into practice
  • consider how they will be applied to your own services

Building the team

As a service owner you need the support of a multidisciplinary team working intensively together through rapid iterations. Your group will:

  • understand the roles needed in an agile, user-centred service design team
  • consider the team’s tools and working environments
  • identify specific development needs for yourself and your team members

Thinking agile

Agile marks a fundamental shift from traditional methods of delivery in government. This session will introduce agile thinking and show how it leads to better outcomes. You’ll cover:

  • agile as a mindset, much wider than a set of tools and techniques
  • the principles in the Agile Manifesto and how they apply to software projects and beyond
  • the agile disciplines that keep teams focused on outcomes and maximise the chances of success

Being agile

GDS delivery managers will lead discussions and exercises around key features of agile, such as:

  • agile artefacts (for example, the backlog), themes, epics and user stories
  • sprint planning and the use of walls to make shared priorities visible
  • using retrospectives to continually inspect and improve the work teams do together

Design and agile

Teams create better services quicker with design and user research. This session will introduce how design and research fit into agile working. The group will:

  • see how design works on GOV.UK
  • understand how design and research work during different phases of the service
  • learn how teams have used different agile approaches to increase the speed of development and quality of the service

Governance, procurement and spend control

Delivering high-quality digital services that can be improved continuously needs investment in the right skills and capabilities. It also needs governance that helps to direct, steer, monitor but above all else, enable service delivery. As a group you’ll:

  • consider how to procure tools and systems fit for the purpose of agile, user-centred development
  • discuss the range of options available and whether to make or buy
  • learn about government procurement processes and frameworks
  • discuss the controls and approvals over central government spending on digital

Digital leadership

Which principles of leadership can be applied to digital services? Your group will:

  • find out how digital leaders get things done so you can model and demonstrate that behaviour in your department
  • hear real examples from a leader in the digital field
  • take away tips and practical advice on digital leadership

Meeting the service standard

The Service Standard is the benchmark your services must reach to go live on GOV.UK. You’ll:

  • learn about the standard, how it was created and what tools are available to help departments meet it
  • consider how services are assessed against the standard
  • assess which parts of the standard are most challenging for your own services and department
  • identify development needs to help you and your department to meet the standard

User research

You need to do user research throughout each phase of designing and delivering your service. You can’t only do it at the beginning or end of development.

You’ll find out how doing user research continuously will:

  • keep your team focused on users - so you provide a service that meets their needs
  • reduce risk - by testing design ideas and new features with users, early and often
  • reduce costs - by only building and deploying features that users need and can use effectively

Data-driven services

Using data to inform decision-making is vital to the development of your services. Your group will:

  • discuss your service’s current key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • consider what data you currently use to inform your decision-making, and what data you would like to use
  • design your own performance data dashboard to understand your services in a simple, visual way
  • find out about the Performance Platform and how you can use it

Government as a Platform

Government as a Platform (GaaP) makes it easy to assemble digital services out of shared components - for example, standards for creating and running services, resources for designing and building services, re-usable patterns, and service data).

In this session, you’ll hear more about 4 GaaP components:

We’ll explain:

  • why we’re building each of these products and what the benefits for service teams and wider government are
  • our approach to designing and building GaaP products
  • what stage these products are at right now, and our plans for each of them as they move into public beta and become ‘live’ products

Technology for digital services

You may not be the most technical person on your team, but as a service owner you can’t leave all the technology decisions to others. This session will cover:

  • choosing technology, making it possible to change your mind and avoiding lock-in
  • risk and risk management, and getting the whole team thinking about security
  • questions to ask your development team to help them make the best technology decisions possible


Accessibility means making things open to everyone. It also means ensuring there are no barriers that might prevent someone from using your service.

This session will talk about what accessibility means for service owner and how to make sure your service is accessible. You’ll find out about:

  • what accessibility means and why it matters
  • how to build accessible services and what standards to follow
  • who to involve in this work - and who to test your services with

Supporting people to use your digital service

This one-day module covering digital take-up, digital inclusion and assisted digital, focuses on supporting people to use your digital service. These are all areas required by the Digital Service Standard. You’ll:

  • learn about why it’s important to support people to use your service
  • develop your understanding of why people might not use your digital service and how to overcome barriers
  • walk different personas through a user journey, to see where they might need support and what that could look like
  • discuss the requirements of the service standard for these areas

Join the community

Find more learning resources and connect with service owners from across government on the agile community page.

Published by:
Agile delivery community
Last update:

Updated page with forthcoming courses

  1. Added upcoming service manager training dates, and removed dates for courses that have already happened.

  2. Guidance first published