Sophie Bennett reports on the Royal Navy’s new Service Standard for effective digital services – at land and at sea
18 November 2015 was no ordinary day for the then head of the UK’s Government Digital Service (GDS), Mike Bracken. It was then he received a letter from President Obama thanking him for his assistance in setting up the United States Digital Service, which had been largely based on its UK counterpart.
Such a high profile endorsement was a testament to the success of GDS in transforming and standardising online services, particularly its efforts to pursue ‘government as a platform’. Today, ten years on from its formation, the GDS is still going strong and its Service Standard supports consistent and user-friendly end-to-end government digital services.
Organisations across government have made use of this standard to drive transformational change and their success has helped prompt the Royal Navy to seek a similar approach. The aim was to make it easier, simpler and more cost-effective to deliver the Navy’s digital and technology services, whilst also ensuring that the standards that are used are appropriate for a Defence context.
So, how’s it gotten on?
The Navy Digital Strategy team conducted research into developing a Royal Navy Digital Service Standard (RN DSS) which could provide greater support to Defence delivery teams and which, in time, could be scaled to provide a single, coherent approach alongside a broader standards and assurance programme led by Defence Digital.
Our multi-disciplinary team embedded in the Royal Navy have been working to develop and support the adoption of the RN DSS. Having obtained feedback from service delivery teams within Navy Digital Services, the team sought to understand what, if any, additional Defence context would be needed for the new naval standard.
Overall, our findings showed a clear need for additional Defence context which could be split into five key themes:
- Deployed settings/operational contexts
- Security considerations
- A blended workforce
- Existing ways of working and processes
- Defence dependencies
Shaping the Royal Navy Digital Service Standard
Based on the feedback, we decided to add four additional elements to the RN DSS. The additional elements were intended to support Defence users in applying the existing standard but where possible, it was kept generic to Defence in order to support the development of a cross-cutting Defence Service Standard in the future.
The first additional element we added was a ‘What it means for Defence’ box to support the interpretation of the service standard in a Defence context, such as operational deployments. It also notes where meeting the service standard might be more challenging for Royal Navy teams, or where more analysis might be needed.
The second was a set of Defence related resources pages to guide users towards Defence specific policies, standards and best practice resources. We also added points of contact – individuals from within the Royal Navy who have expertise in their designated area of the standard and that teams can reach out to for further guidance if required.
And finally an assessment checklist and sample questions were produced for all 14 points of the RN DSS at each lifecycle stage (Discovery, Alpha and so on.) These have been produced to provide additional guidance and support for teams to meet the standard and not as a mandatory test.
The RN DSS has gained support from senior leadership and has been welcomed by service teams across the organisation. It is now mandatory to apply the RN DSS to digital projects in the Royal Navy and it is also being used in service assessments.
We continue to liaise regularly with Defence Digital and other Front Line Commands to ensure alignment as digital delivery matures across Defence and we’re looking at how we transfer our learning to the rest of Defence.
While we’re at the start of this journey, our pan-Defence team are striving to meet this ambition – watch this (digital) space.
About the author
Sophie Bennett is a Senior Data Analyst at BAE Systems Applied Intelligence
- Creating the Navy of the future. The Royal Navy is in the midst of a concerted effort to exploit and deploy advanced data analytics and Artificial Intelligence. Hannah Green explains why it’s full speed ahead
- A life on the ocean wave. Captain Jules Lowe’s 30-year naval career has been packed full of maritime missions large and small. He tells Sandy Boxall about his experiences and why creating the navy of the future takes far more than just horizon scanning – it’s also about doing things differently at every level
- The Transformer. For a variety of reasons, digital transformation continues to be a step too far for many organisations. Here, Sandy Boxall says that they can be done, pointing to the success of the Royal Navy’s NELSON programme to illustrate his point
- Setting sail for gender equality – Navy style. The Royal Navy’s Captain Steve Prest tells Mivy James why everybody deserves an equal opportunity to thrive and maximise their potential
- Delivering data dividends. Mivy James examines what needs to be done to help the military be more data centric
- 10 things we wish we knew before working on digital transformation. Ben Starkie reflects on the lessons learned from working across a variety of digital transformations of all size and scope