Ensure your service is available for use at the time users need to access it. Where a service is unavailable, have a plan to deal with its recovery.

Why it's important

Users expect to be able to use DfE services when they need to.

There are some DfE services that are only available at certain times of the year. However, this should not mean that services do not operate reliably outside of these times. For example, if a school needs to access a service in an emergency.

How to meet this standard in every phase

You'll be assessed on what you've done to meet this standard at service assessments. However, even if the service you're working on is not being assessed, it's good practice to consider how you'll meet this standard point.

Things to consider:

  • how the service maximises uptime (opens in new tab) and speed of response for the online part of the service
  • that the service has the ability to deploy software changes regularly (opens in new tab), without significant downtime. For example, by minimising the effort involved in creating new environments and populating pre-production environments with test data
  • consider creating continuous integration and continuous delivery pipelines (opens in new tab) from an early phase of the project
  • having regular quality assurance (opens in new tab) and performance testing
  • testing the service in an environment that protects users privacy and that's as similar to live as possible
  • appropriate monitoring (opens in new tab) is in place, together with a proportionate, sustainable plan to respond to problems identified by monitoring - given the impact of problems on users and government
  • agreeing recovery point objectives and recovery time objectives with the service owner
  • capturing appropriate service-level agreements (SLAs), relevant to the service and documenting them in the architecture decision record (ADR)
  • making sure that runbooks (opens in new tab) and operational processes are captured, for example, how incident requests will be handled
  • the team's approach to incident management, ensure it is defined and documented
  • who will be responsible for supporting the service once live

Profession specific guidance

Each DDaT profession in DfE has their own community and guidance.


Technical Guidance