Staged assessments

These assessments focus on measuring performance at the stages of the service design and delivery process.

All services within the scope of the Digital Service Standard are assessed against the standard.

Depending on the service, this will follow either the staged assessment process or the in-flight assessment process.

See below for information about staged assessments. 

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Assessment check points

Your delivery team will meet with the assessment team at formal check points during the service design and delivery process.

These are:

  • the end of Alpha (called the Alpha assessment)
  • middle of Beta (between private and public beta, called the Beta assessment)
  • the end of Beta, before the service moves into Live (called the Live assessment) until the service is launched 

Under the staged assessment model, there is no check point between Discovery and Alpha.

How the meetings work

Each assessment is a conversation between the digital delivery team and a panel of assessors who are experts in their field.

The team members provide a brief overview of the service, including a live demonstration. The assessors will then ask the team questions about how the service meets the standard.

Assessments take from 2 to 4 hours, depending on how complex the service is and what stage of development it’s at.

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Planning your assessment

You’ll need to embed the standard in the way you work from the start. This will help you to build a better service.

We have tools to help you track how your service meets the standard in a progressive way.

We recommend you share your progress against the standard as part of your weekly showcase. You’ll then have artefacts and activities that show what you’ve been doing to meet the standard. You can use these at your assessment meetings.

When you’re preparing for an assessment, the service team needs to be confident they can show how the service meets the standard. They should be able to satisfactorily answer any questions the assessment panel asks.

Before they ask for an assessment, your team might like to run a mock assessment to identify any potential issues.

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Arranging an assessment

When the service team can demonstrate the service meets the standard, they should either arrange an internal agency assessment, or contact us for a DTA-led assessment.

The assessment panel should be independent of the digital delivery team.

Details needed to arrange an assessment include:

  • a description of the service
  • a link to the service or prototype, including any information needed to access it, such as login details and dummy account data
  • a high-level technical architecture diagram of the service, if appropriate

The description of the service should include:

  • the assessment stage — Alpha, Beta or Live
  • who the users of the service are
  • what user needs the service aims to meet
  • the scope of the service for the assessment stage
  • whether this service is intending to replace existing services or complement them

We can provide copies of assessment templates and tools. Get in touch with us to let us know about upcoming assessments.

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Attending the assessment

An assessment will consist of a discussion between the panel, the Product Manager and their team. The discussion usually takes up to 4 hours.

Members of the assessment panel will direct their questions to the Product Manager, but they can defer to other team members. Often these will include a technical architect, a designer, a user researcher or a delivery manager, but that’s up to you.

The discussion should focus on what has been done, not what will be done.

Assessment conversations usually take the form of the following three-part structure.

1. Overview

The overview lasts 5–15 minutes. During this time the service team will explain:

  • what the service is
  • reasons why it is being developed
  • who the users are
  • how it will meet their needs

2. Demonstration

The demonstration lasts 20–45 minutes. The service team will demonstrate the service as closely as possible to what will be made live, depending on the stage of the service.

The assessors will ask questions during the demonstration.

3. Review

The review lasts up to 3 hours. The assessors will go through the standard, focusing on how the service has met each criterion.

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The assessment report

Within a few days the service team will receive the outcome of the assessment and a report summarising the assessment. The report will include recommendations, with clear feedback on the service.

If agency-led, the agency needs to provide us with a copy of the report to publish in the assessment reports section of

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Outcomes of an assessment

There are 2 possible outcomes from an assessment: pass or not pass.

Passing an assessment

Passing an assessment means the service team can continue to progress through the stages of the service design and delivery process.

For example, when a service passes a Beta assessment, the service can go public with Beta branding applied. When the service passes a Live assessment the Beta branding will be removed.

Not passing an assessment

If a service does not pass an assessment, it should not progress beyond its current stage of development.

The assessment panel’s report will provide recommendations on actions the service team might carry out to ensure the service will meet the standard.

Depending on the stage of development, the service team should arrange a re-assessment. The re-assessment is needed only for those criteria the service did not pass.

The service team should ensure they have addressed all the panel’s recommendations before scheduling a re-assessment. During the re-assessment the panel will work through all of the recommendations to make sure the team has met them.

If the service does not pass its re-assessment we encourage the agency to get in touch with us for further help.

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Get in touch

If you have any questions you can get in touch with us at