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Meet the standard

All teams creating digital services for Defence should meet the GOV.UK Service Standard. This applies to internal services as well as services for citizens.

The GOV.UK Service Standard helps you:

  • design the right thing for your users
  • reuse existing patterns and capabilities
  • make the best recruitment and technology choices

Apply the GOV.UK Service Standard

Check what makes Defence different from other government departments.

1. Understand users and their needs

You should test your service with real users in the place that they use it. In Defence, this is not always possible. Consider testing in a simulated environment or bringing a representative user into your design team.

Be aware that your users might not be contactable while they are deployed in the UK or abroad.

2. Solve a whole problem for users

Before you design a new service, check capabilities in Defence that can be reused for part or all of your user’s journey.

Consider environmental and physical constraints that exist across Defence. For example, some military personnel might be in remote areas without access to the internet.

3. Provide a joined up experience across all channels

Identify all of the platforms and places where your service will be used. It could be across land, sea and air, on military bases or in the battlespace. You might also need to integrate with systems used by our allies.

Check how to classify information and manage it securely across all channels.

4. Make the service simple to use

Defence environments can be complex but users need services that are quick, simple and easy to use.

In the UK, every government digital service for citizens or internal users must be accessible. Consider permanent and temporary accessibility needs based on where users are.

5. Make sure everyone can use the service

People in Defence can face physical barriers to using digital services. For example they might have no internet connection, be in low lighting or need to wear thick gloves. They can also find themselves dealing with extreme weather, stressful situations and fatigue.

6. Have a multidisciplinary team

When designing services for military personnel, make sure some of the people on your team have military or Defence experience. If this is not possible, work closely with military users and stakeholders.

Consider the level of security clearance each person on your team needs. Plan ahead as it can take longer than usual for new people to join.

7. Use agile ways of working

In Defence, the use of new technology is an opportunity and a threat. Digital teams need to move quickly.

Use agile ways of working to turn ideas and the latest technology into great services for Defence.

8. Iterate and improve frequently

Some digital services in Defence rely on systems that do not use agile delivery methods. If this is the case, iterate and improve what you can within the scope of your service.

You might need to plan the release of improvements around maintenance schedules or when military personnel are deployed.

9. Create a secure service which protects users’ privacy

Evaluate and classify all information your service collects, stores and provides. Do not classify information higher than it needs to be.

Identify and address security threats, privacy issues and risks associated with your service. Ask for advice from others in Defence.

10. Define what success looks like and publish performance data

As well as measuring how your service is used, you might need to measure operational effectiveness. This can include readiness to deploy a battalion or time saved to do a task.

For some services in Defence, it might not be appropriate to share performance data publicly.

11. Choose the right tools and technology

To deploy your service successfully, it might need to work on legacy platforms across Defence. They could be on land, on the sea, under the water or in the air. Understand any technical and physical constraints before you start.

Consider reusing technology already available in Defence. You also need to check which tools are suitable for use in Defence.

12. Make new source code open

When it is appropriate in Defence, make all new source code open and reusable. This helps avoid duplicating work and reduces costs across Defence and government.

Do not use open source code for SECRET and TOP SECRET services, features or subsets of code.

If you contribute to open source code, do not share any sensitive, SECRET or TOP SECRET information.

13. Use and contribute to open standards, common components and patterns

You need to use and build on common standards and approaches. This helps you solve problems for users in a tried and tested, cost effective way.

When you create new components or patterns, share them across Defence, with other government departments and our allies internationally.

Do not openly share any sensitive, SECRET or TOP SECRET information.

14. Operate a reliable service

Across Defence, all users should have digital services that are reliable. In some circumstances, a service not being available when it is needed can put lives at risk.

Identify potential risks and security threats to the reliability of your service. Create clear instructions on how to respond and share them with the team.

Updated March 2023

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