This week at GDS

It’s a year since the event that officially launched GDS. The last twelve months have seen major milestones like the release of GOV.UK, the Digital Strategy and the transition of government departments to the single domain, all at a pace that’s set to continue into 2013.

While it’s business as usual for most people here at GDS, it’s interesting to see how Departments and Agencies are starting to define and deliver on their digital ambitions. This week I visited the Rural Payments Agency, part of Defra, where Mike Beaven’s transformation team have created a small agile team. The work they have done in a few weeks has already brought huge benefits to our colleagues in Government, and is a great example of how small teams can quickly change existing technical assumptions.

Back in Cabinet Office, the digital case management system was presented to the controls team, which should improve the design and efficiency of how we handle controls and help departments to see the flow of requests.

Next week the Inside Government team will be adding four new departments to GOV.UK, and work has continued virtually without rest to make sure that goes smoothly. They’ve also been meeting with other departments as they prepare for their transition early next year.

One of the big things that made the Directgov and Businesslink transitions so smooth for users was the effort put into making sure users were redirected to the right place on GOV.UK. In between working the same magic for departmental websites the team responsible have done a lot to tidy those tools and their repositories up, and next week Anna Shipman will reveal more about how all of them work. It’s an extraordinary achievement, and it’s great to be releasing code for the wider community to use.

The team working on the tools and advice for government transactions are nearing an alpha release of their product. There’s a real thirst in government to get hold of the guidance, and it’s proving to be especially well-timed as departments near completion of their own digital strategies.

Meanwhile the user research team have been analysing user testing sessions in London and Bristol, doing the fieldwork for more Inside Government testing, and helping to conduct guerilla testing in Nottingham. The range of input we get from users is really valuable in making sure the things we build are on the right track, and it’s always a good opportunity to check your assumptions about what will or won’t work for users.

Finally, I can reveal that these week notes will be coming from a slightly different place next week after a bit of a desk shuffle here at Aviation House. Lots of teams have changed shape since the release of GOV.UK, so we’re moving around to make sure people who work together can sit together. It feels like a strangely appropriate way to celebrate our first birthday.