Set up a service team at each phase
To successfully build and run a digital service, your delivery team needs to be multidisciplinary and have a range of skills.
Your team must be able to work with teams from across your organisation and you may need to work with contractors or third parties.
Delivery and operational roles
Service design isn’t just about creating or improving a digital service. A digital service is usually part of a wider change to how an organisation operates (for example, changes to a contact centre based on a new scheme or policy coming into effect).
It’s sensible then to differentiate between:
- the service team
- collaborative work with other teams in your organisation
The service team you need in each phase
Your team’s size and the roles you need will change as you build your service. You’ll need different skills during the different development phases.
All service teams must have the skills to:
- analyse user needs, including accessibility and assisted digital needs, and turn these into user stories
- create user stories and prioritise them
- manage and report to stakeholders and manage dependencies on other teams
- procure services from third parties, if needed
- design, build, test and iterate software, and deploy and host the software
- test with real users
- find ways of accrediting and handling data
- support the live running of the service (monitoring, fixing things when they break, responding to users)
During discovery you’ll need a team with the skills to:
- research and understand the user need for your proposed service
- be aware of other services that exist and their development plans
- start planning what your initial prototypes will explore
This means you should have the following roles:
- someone with product management skills (this could be a service owner but doesn’t have to be in this phase)
- a user researcher
- a designer
You may also find it helpful to have:
- a content designer
- a developer
You can read more in:
- the discovery phase guide
- Lessons from the sharp end - a blog post about getting the right people for the beginning of a project at the Department for Work and Pensions
If your service progresses to the alpha stage, you’ll need the skills to:
- explore ideas and build prototypes
- solve the harder potential problems on the project
You must appoint a service owner during alpha.
Depending on the size and complexity of your service, you should also have the following roles in your service team by the alpha stage:
- a product manager
- a delivery manager or scrum master
- one or more user researchers
- one or more content designers
- one or more designers
- a developer
- a technical lead
- an assisted digital lead
- an accessibility lead
You should also have access to:
- a digital performance analyst
- a technical architect
- a web operations engineer
- quality assurance and testing skills
By the end of the alpha, you should have a clear idea of what your beta will be and the team you’ll need to build it.
Read more in the alpha phase guide.
At beta, the main priority is creating a simple, clear, fast service while your team works toward live operation. The team needs to have the skills to make frequent iterations based on regular user testing.
At this phase, you may need to increase the size of the team.
You may need more input from performance analysts, web operations and developers, and an increase in the number of designers and content designers.
Read more in the beta phase guide.
When your service moves from beta to live, you’ll usually have met most of your user needs and have less work left to do. However, you must still plan to have a sustainable, multidisciplinary team that can:
- finish building any additional features you’ve planned for your service
- manage and maintain your service
- iterate and improve your service frequently based on changes in your users’ needs or other circumstances (for example, changes to technology or other government policy or programmes)
This means you’ll need to plan how and when you change the size of your team and the roles in it. To work out when and how to do this, you and your team should review your service’s roadmap, release plans and product backlog.
Changes can also affect morale. Talk to your team to:
- let them know what’s happening
- discover how they feel about any changes
- find out how they want to deal with the changes
You can read more in:
- the live phase guide
- Carer’s Allowance: Life after transformation - a blog post about their team for live operation
Working with other teams in your organisation
You’ll also need the skills of a wide range of people working in other teams or areas of your department or organisation, for example:
- policy and legal
- contact centre operations
- recruitment and training
You may need to change how you work when working with teams that aren’t using agile delivery methods.
Read this agile for non-digital projects blog post to find out how you can apply agile methods to other parts of your organisation.
You may also find the following guides useful:
- Published by:
- Agile delivery community
- Last update:
Guidance first published