Service Standards
14 Operate a Reliable Service

14. Operate a reliable service

Minimise service downtime and have a plan to deal with it when it does happen.

Why it’s important

Users expect to be able to use online services 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Many users have limited choice over how and when they access government services. For example, they may be a carer who only has time to apply for benefits in the early hours of the morning. If a service is unavailable or slow, it can mean those users are unable to get the help they need.

What it means

Service teams should:

  • maximise uptime and speed of response for the online part of the service
  • be able to deploy software changes regularly, without significant downtime (for example, by minimising the effort involved in creating new environments and populating pre-production environments with test data)
  • carry out quality assurance testing regularly
  • test the service in an environment that’s as similar to live as possible
  • have appropriate monitoring in place, together with a proportionate, sustainable plan to respond to problems identified by monitoring (given the impact of problems on users and on government)
  • actively work towards fixing any organisational or contractual issues which make it difficult to maximise availability (for example, by agreeing a common set of languages, tools, and ways of working for technical staff - either informally, or through something more formal like the GDS way