Skip to main content

Service Manager training - how are we doing?

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Community, Recruitment and Skills, Service Manager Programme, Training and progression

Service managers getting busy on the Induction programme

If you want to increase the chances of your service passing a Digital by Default Service Standard assessment, then make sure you have a service manager who has been on the Induction Programme at GDS.

The government’s digital strategy commits departments that have services handling over 100,000 transactions per year to employ skilled, experienced and empowered service managers to re-design and operate these services.

As the service manager role is largely a new role in government, we have been running a  service manager induction programme for newly appointed service managers.  The alpha was in June 2013, we went live in October 2013 and we have been iterating the programme ever since.

We wanted to give you an update on how we have been doing and share some of our learning.


We set ourselves a target of training 150 service managers by April 2015, based on the number of government services with over 100,000 transactions per year.  To date, 177 service managers have gone through the induction programme and we estimate this will be 215 by April 2015.

So the numbers look OK but what about the quality of the training and the impact it is having?


We surveyed the service managers 3 months after they'd attended the programme and asked them to rate the impact of the training on their skills, knowledge, confidence and network.  This is what they said:

Graph showing difference the programme has made to skills (a moderate amount), confidence (a moderate amount), knowledge (a lot) and network (a moderate amount)

We have also seen that these scores have improved as we have iterated the programme based on the feedback from the service managers and programme facilitators.

One of the learning outcomes from the induction programme is to equip service managers with the knowledge and skills to pass the digital by default service standard (DbDSS) assessments as their services move from discovery through to live.  We asked the service managers what difference, if any, did the programme make in doing discovery, alpha, beta, live and DbDSS assessments?  Here are some of their responses:

“it gave me more confidence and understanding of the process”

“it reduced lost time and wrong turns”

“It ensured it was user focused and not business needs led”

“It highlighted the bringing together of the right skills and team resources”

“It gave me the confidence and the network to call upon for peer advice”


Some great feedback here, but we wanted to look a bit deeper into the impact of the programme.  When we analysed the data from the DbDSS assessments, we found a significant correlation between having a service manager who has been on our programme and the chances of the service passing an assessment.

To date, 64 services have been assessed, 44 of them have passed and 20 have failed.

We discovered that of the 20 that failed, 16 failed the criteria that assesses whether the service has put in place a sustainable multidisciplinary team. One that can design, build and operate the service, led by a suitably skilled and senior service manager with decision-making responsibility. And, of these 16 failed assessments, 13 of them did not have a service manager who had attended either the service manager induction or open programmes.

Of the 44 that passed, 18 of them had a service manager who had attended either the service manager induction or open programmes.

Learning and Next Steps

We have learnt a lot about the needs of service managers along the way.  We have iterated both the content and structure of the programme but there is much more to do.

We are looking to establish the demand for  places on the programme beyond April 2015.  We will step up our efforts to build a community of service managers.  We will refresh the programme with emerging new content, based on the needs of service managers.  We will seek ways in which we can further establish the service manager role and understand how we can support them as they develop their leadership skills.

Thanks to the people who make the programme possible

The modules in the Service Manager Programme are developed and delivered by GDS’ subject matter experts, without whom we would not be able to run such a high quality and interactive programme. We’re also indebted to the digital leaders and service managers who take the time to share their experiences with each new cohort. If you want to understand more about what being a service manager is like, you can hear Kit Collingwood, a service manager at MoJ, talking about what goes on inside a service manager’s head.

Sharing and comments

Share this page