Managing teams

Learn how to manage a multi-disciplinary team to design, build and maintain your service. 

Why we use multidisciplinary teams 

Traditionally government forms teams around agency structures, usually works in a linear way. Many teams are responsible for different parts of the service. Specialists often don't get the chance to work together on creative solutions. 

Building services in a multidisciplinary team gives users and stakeholders a voice from the start of the process. Benefits of multidisciplinary teams are: 

  • people that used to come in at the end and often too late to do their best work have input from the beginning 
  • people with complementary capabilities work together at the same time on the same part of the service 
  • the team is always responsible for delivery. 

Multidisciplinary teams make it easier to build services 

A digitally capable team start working together quickly to build momentum. Team members should have experience working in a multidisciplinary way, or the capability to work in this way. They will need to have the right mindset and skills. They should be open to new ways of thinking and working. 

A multidisciplinary team has the capability and skills to deliver the service and the authority to make decisions. The team works independently and minimises dependencies that delay delivery. It is usually small fewer than 10 members.  

A multidisciplinary team uses in-depth user research. This helps the team decide what to build and how to deliver it. This means services are: 

  • built using user-centred design — developed in iterations and closely with users 
  • guided by data and testing — they reflect the actual user journey 
  • focused on the end-to-end experience — they are simpler, clearer and faster. 
Multidisciplinary teams are typically multi-skilled and can work across disciplines. 

Finding the right capabilities 

You will need to have specific roles and capabilities in your multidisciplinary team before you start Discovery.  

Core roles 

There are 10 core roles to consider when building a multidisciplinary team. The core roles in a multidisciplinary team are consistent from discovery through to Live

The same core roles should be in the team for all 4 stages of the service design and delivery process. Find out more about the function and purpose of these core roles in a multidisciplinary team

Core roles allow you to: 

  • design and deliver a service that is simple, clear and fast 
  • make sure your team has the right capabilities, skills, knowledge and attributes throughout the life of the service. 

Extended roles 

An extended role refers to when you may need specialist expertise to join the team for a time. For example, you may need the role of content strategist at the start of designing a service, but not for the whole service. 

How to structure your team 

Start with a user-centred approach. Think about what you need to design and deliver to meet user needs. Different types of products and services will determine which of the core roles you need. 

Put users first 

Seek to understand user needs.  Build your multidisciplinary team around a problem or service. 

Understand the roles 

Understand what the different core roles are and what they do. You can then decide which roles you need in your multidisciplinary team to develop the product or service your agency needs. 

Decide when you need the roles

Decide when you need the roles. This will depend on the type of service you’re designing and delivering. Once you decide which core roles you need, they will stay in place for the life of the service. For example, if you are designing and building a service, you will likely need all 10 core roles. If you are designing policy or legislation, you may not need a developer or a technology lead. 

Roles you'll always need 

You will always need the core roles of product manager and user researcher, as these are foundational to any service. Try to make sure that your core team is also empowered to make decisions. This will help them move through the service design and delivery process as smoothly as possible. 

With a clear understanding of digital roles, you can better decide what you need, when you need them.