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A collaborative approach to service assessments

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As the Service Standard Manager in Digital, Data and Technology (DDaT), it was my job to help teams prepare for, and succeed in, their Home Office internal service assessments. The word ‘assessment’ used to feel scary, but now I associate it with support, development and teamwork.

Peer assessment

A service assessment should not be terrifying. In the centre of excellence, assessors are encouraged to be supportive and approachable.

Assessments are not a 1-sided conversation or a test. They’re a chance to share your work with peers and receive feedback. Together, we can create important digital services that work for users, in a wider context of being value for money and fit for purpose.

I trained 22 internal service assessors during my time at the Home Office and they all now support teams to reach their potential and design excellent services. Training focuses on peer review and helping service teams to celebrate good work in their assessment – not on recreating a school exam.

There’s no pass or fail here. You’ll meet the Digital Service Standard or you won’t. Either way, you’ll still be showing your peers the good work you’ve been doing. If you don’t meet the Service Standard just yet, the assessors will give you tailored advice on what to fix.

Booking your service assessment

Booking your service assessment is as easy as making contact. It takes about 3 weeks to organise an assessment panel and location, but extra notice is always welcome. So start the conversation early if you can – that way, you can also make the most of all the resources on offer.

You should also contact the Access Needs team to arrange an accessibility audit before your assessment. This is another conversation worth having early. Continuous conversation and engagement pave the way to continuous improvement.

A whole menu of services

Even if you’re not ready for your service assessment, your team can still get support during the delivery cycle, through health checks (a mock assessment with no formal result – just a great peer-to-peer conversation and feedback session), design reviews, and consultancy.

It all comes back to peer review

It’s been a real pleasure to see service teams develop from peer guidance. At the Home Office, we make sure our service assessments are built on a foundation of mutual support. By emphasising peer review, we challenge traditional notions of assessment. That word is now a positive one in my book.

Visit the centre of excellence site for more information on practice service assessments, service health checks, accessibility audits and more.  

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