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Redesigning the DDaT Capability Framework

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Capabilities, Community, Digital data and technology

Image shows a laptop on a table, the screen on laptop shows the home page of the Digital, Data and Technology Profession Capability Framework


Government is such an exciting place for digital, data and technology professionals, with services that impact people’s lives and a very ambitious digital transformation roadmap. To deliver on these ambitions we need all civil servants to build their digital skills at scale as outlined in the mission five of the Transforming for a Digital Future strategy.

Sharing a common understanding of what digital, data & technology skills are and what digital, data & technology people do is critical to build a digital culture. The Capability Framework, initially developed in 2017, is in need of updating and that is what I want to talk about.

Our product is now in Beta

The Capability Framework articulates standards of capability in digital, data & technology roles. We want it to be so easy to use and understand that it becomes indispensable for skills and career development.

We assembled a small multidisciplinary team at the Central Digital and Data Office (CDDO). Our user research showed that information was difficult to understand and that the whole framework was not easy to navigate. 

Our Senior Content Designer undertook a framework-wide review to improve on readability and remove inconsistencies. In parallel, the team worked on a prototype built from the GOV.UK Prototype Kit and GOV.UK Design System components with accessibility requirements at heart. We tested it with digital, data & technology professionals, which is our main user group, but also with people designing capability interventions for digital, data & technology professionals. Six rounds of research enabled us to thoroughly understand our users, their journeys and the tasks they were trying to achieve with the framework while designing a Minimal Viable Product that would work on both laptops and mobile devices. We know from our user research that almost a quarter of our users access the framework while using a mobile device. 

We also added new functionalities and information based on user needs, such as:

  • a skills A to Z that enables users to scroll all the capability Framework skills and the descriptions of their levels
  • guidance on how to request a change to the framework following its governance principles
  • indicative grades that a role level would match to in the Civil Service
  • a view of which skills are shared by which roles to give more clarity on development opportunities
  • an autocomplete search function to enable users to search for roles, role levels and skills

As we tested and iterated our prototype we also had to review the framework’s foundations for its governance, data, and content strategy.

Revisiting Foundations

The framework’s content has to be constantly updated to stay relevant and we welcome proposed changes to the framework from anyone. It's also why we believe a robust cross-government consultation process is essential to source the latest roles and skills evolutions in the civil service. We enabled this by creating the Capability Framework Design Council and adopting clear governance principles for managing changes.

To adopt a common language and allow consistency in the way we describe roles and skills, our Senior Content Designer created a style guidance and step by step drafting templates that we use when engaging with subject matter experts to make changes to the framework. We now follow a quarterly cadence to publish changes, all of them are tracked in the update section of our product.

We also made a decision to underpin digital, data & technology roles by a catalogue of skills. This is something we are still working on but it helps us to better understand how skills can be shared between roles. We are undertaking a major rewrite to harmonise skills descriptions where we can while removing inconsistencies. This is really exciting as it opens up career pathways in a much clearer way!

Going forward

The capability framework is now in beta. Going forward we want to use our website analytics better to further understand what skills and role connections our users make when navigating the framework. 

We also want to be even more open and transparent about what changes are being made and why they are being made. This is something that we are working hard on with the Capability Framework Design Council but that we would like to reflect in the development of our product.

Beta is only one phase of our journey to build a product that becomes indispensable for skills and career development. Please share your feedback and continue to engage with my team, we only made it this far thanks to our digital, data and technology professionals and people who support the development of our phenomenal profession.

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  1. Comment by Annie Crabtree posted on

    How might we go about giving feedback on the new design? I couldn't see a link anywhere on the actual pages.

  2. Comment by Andrew Potthurst posted on

    Can we ensure alignment between the roles in the framework, and the roles listed under the DDAT pay groups on the intranet as my role was not on the pay groups list - maybe there are others missing?

    Also, probably not in your remit, but to have the pay group roles on the same intranet page as the pay group remuneration packages would be very helpful!

    • Replies to Andrew Potthurst>

      Comment by bobkamall posted on

      Thank you very much for your feedback. Digital, Data, and Technology pay groups are for internal use only and might vary between organisations' which is why we are not publishing them as part of the DDaT Profession Capability Framework beta.

  3. Comment by Pablo Charro de la Fuente posted on

    Why does the feedback survey not follow the GOV.UK Feedback page pattern (

    CDDO should follow the service manual on how to measure user satisfaction. The current survey is very long, and doesn't even ask users how satisfied they are with the framework or how it can be improved. What doesn't get measured, doesn't get done.

    • Replies to Pablo Charro de la Fuente>

      Comment by bobkamall posted on

      Thank you for your comment.
      I have been advised by the Capability Framework team that they wanted to understand a bit more about some areas of the framework and its context of use, which is why their product survey is different from the Service Manual one.

      • Replies to bobkamall>

        Comment by Pablo Charro de la Fuente posted on

        It doesn't sound like a good reason for CDDO to ignore a 'must-do' in the Service Manual - there are other (and probably better) ways of gathering insights about that.

        What's the reason to stop users from telling CDDO how satisfied they are with the DDaT Framework and how it could be improved? As I said in my previous comment - what doesn't get measured, doesn't get done.

        • Replies to Pablo Charro de la Fuente>

          Comment by bobkamall posted on

          Thank you for your comment.

          The User Research Lead for the Capability Framework has advised that they always welcome feedback from users of the Capability Framework including how satisfied they are with it and suggestions for improvement. However, the survey in question is a user research survey, not a GOV.UK feedback survey, because they want to understand more about some areas of the framework and its context of use.

          The team will also review the current content and consider making changes for any missing 'must-do' items.

  4. Comment by Ali J posted on

    The indicative grades are not in line with the grades and job roles in a number of organisations which is leaving people worried. Who decided the grades against each Job role/level?

    • Replies to Ali J>

      Comment by bobkamall posted on

      Thank you for comment, I've consulted with the relevant teams and they tell me that indicative grades reflect how a role is commonly graded across government. This information is taken from the Digital, Data, and Technology Workforce Planning Commission and is updated on an annual basis.

  5. Comment by Biomedis posted on

    Why is it important to have a common understanding of digital, data & technology skills and roles in the government, especially considering the ambitious digital transformation roadmap?

    • Replies to Biomedis>

      Comment by bobkamall posted on

      Having a common understanding of digital, data, and technology skills and roles in government is essential to:

      - deliver services that meet citizens’ needs
      - foster interoperability and improve Government’s effectiveness
      - adapt to a rapidly evolving technology landscape

      Consistent standards for recruitment, training, and career progression are critical to reducing skill gaps and to developing consistent workforce plans. The Capability Framework aims to provide the foundations that sustain the mission 5 - Digital skills at scale - of the for a digital future strategy by opening up transparent career pathways and progression opportunities in Government for professionals in digital, data, and technology.