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

This 6-day induction programme aims to give service managers 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 managers who complete the programme in groups from across government departments and agencies.

How to book

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Digital Academy delivers the Service Manager Induction Programme for the Government Digital Service (GDS). To book a place, email


The course costs £1128 (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 at the DWP Academy, Fulham, London.

Upcoming dates

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

Course Dates
November 8, 9, 10, 22, 23 and 24 November 2016
December 6, 7, 8, 13, 14 and 15 December 2016
January 10, 11, 12, 24, 25 and 26 January 2017

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 Digital 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 managers 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 come on the programme, 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 Digital Service Manual. Good guides to start with include user needs, agile and the Digital 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 service digital
  • what this means for agencies and departments in general and for the role of service manager 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

User research

You need to do user research throughout each phase of your service and not leave it as something that happens at the beginning and end of a stage. You’ll find out how doing user research continuously will:

  • keep your team concentrating on real user needs
  • help teams design products which are prioritised by user needs
  • help teams iterate products in response to user feedback

This module usually includes a visit to the user research lab at GDS.

Putting users first

User-centred service design starts with user needs. In this session the group will:

  • meet some users of government digital services
  • explore different techniques for finding out what users need
  • decide what requirements count as user needs
  • write some user stories

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

Make, test and learn

It’s time to try out the methods and tools picked up on the programme so far. In this practical exercise your group will:

  • self-organise to respond to a real-life brief
  • discover user needs, write user stories and prototype solutions to meet them
  • test your solutions with target users and iterate based on what you learn

Meeting the service standard

The Digital 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

Technology for digital services

You may not be the most technical person on your team, but as a service manager you cannot 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

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 Digital Service Standard for these areas

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

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

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

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

GOV.UK Verify

Government needs to know that users of its digital services are who they say they are. In this session, you’ll learn how the GOV.UK Verify programme is:

  • building and running the platform that connects services to a number of identity providers
  • working with departments and agencies to identify their services’ needs for GOV.UK Verify
  • helping departments plan their transition to using the GOV.UK Verify service

Building the team

As a service manager 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

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

Join the community

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

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