A Business Tool for Government Digital Services.

The Government Service Model Canvas is a one page template to enable Service and Delivery managers to design and test their business model for a digital service.

It is based on the Strategyzer Business Model Canvas[1] and references the Government Service Design Manual[2], Digital by Default Standards[3], Government Service Design Principles[4], HM Treasury Green Book[5], HM Treasury Checklist for assessing business cases[6] and TechUK’s Three Point Plan for the delivery of public services[7].

Key questions to answer

To build and validate the business model for a digital service a number of questions need to be answered. There are ten key questions to address.

Question 1: Core principles

Does the proposed delivery of the digital service achieve one or more of the following?[7]

i) Better engagement: particularly between government, delivery partners and end users: will delivery of the service involve early engagement between civil servants and suppliers in development of policy as well as procurement? Will end users be involved throughout the development and ongoing delivery of the service?

ii) Better information: moving towards best practice, open, standardised formats of reporting: in order to compare the success of different contracts a more uniform and consistent scheme of reporting is required. How does the service development do this? What will be measured and reported on?

iii) More innovation: allowing for lower risk delivery models to explore new ideas: innovation without fear of failure is key to government being able to develop the best products – in terms of best product for the end user and best product for the taxpayer.

For further information on these principles please see Tech UK’s Three Point Plan.

Question 2: Value proposition

Central to any business model is the value proposition. What do we deliver to the user? Which of our user’s problems are we solving? What bundles of products / services are we offering to each user segment? Which user needs are we satisfying?

Value propositions proposed may be quantitative – price and efficiency based; or qualitative – overall customer experience and outcome based.

Charecteristics of value propositions include:

  • Newness 
  • Design
  • Cost reduction
  • Usability
  • Performance
  • Brand
  • Risk reduction
  • Customisation
  • Status
  • Accessibility
  • Getting the job done
  • Price
  • Convenience 

Question 3: User segments

For whom are we creating value? Who are our most important users? What are our users’ needs? The first Government Digital Service Design Principle[4] states:

“Start with needs*

*user needs not government needs.

Service design starts with identifying user needs. If you don’t know what the user needs are, you won’t build the right thing. Do research, analyse data, talk to users. Don’t make assumptions. Have empathy for users, and [one] should remember that what they ask for isn’t always what they need.”

Question 4: Channels

Through which channels do our user segments want to be reached? How are we reaching them now? How are our channels integrated? Which ones work best?  Which ones are most cost-efficient? How are we integrating them with user routines?

Channel Phases

  1. Awareness: How do we raise awareness about out service?
  2. Evaluation: how do we help users evaluate our Value Proposition?
  3. Transact: How do we allow users to transact with our services?
  4. Delivery: How do we deliver a Value Proposition to users?
  5. Continuous Delivery: How do we provide post-delivery user support?

Question 5: User relationships

  • What type of relationship does each of our user segments expect us to establish and maintain with them? 
  • Which ones have we established?
  • How are they integrated with the rest of our service model?
  • How costly are they?

Question 6: Key activities

What key activities do our value propositions require? Our distribution channels? User relationships? Service KPIs?

Categories of Key Activities

  • Production
  • Problem solving
  • Platform / Network

Question 7: Partner network

Who are our key partners? Who are our key suppliers? Which key resources are we acquiring from partners? Which key activities do partners perform?

Motivation for partnerships

  • Optimisation and Economy
  • Reduction of risk and uncertainty
  • Acquisition of particular resource and activities


Question 8: Key resources

What key resources do our value propositions require? Our distribution channels? User relationships? Service KPIs?

Types of resource

  • Physical
  • Intellectual
  • Human
  • Financial

Question 9: Cost structure

What are the most important costs inherent in our service model? Which key resources are most expensive? Which key activities are most expensive?

From HM Treasury Business Case checklist:[6]

Does the business case include each aspect of the 5 case model:

  • Strategic
  • Economic
  • Commercial
  • Financial 
  • Management[5]

What stage has the business case reached?

Question 10: Service KPIs

The four key Digital by Default Standard KPIs [8] are:

  • Cost per transaction
  • User satisfaction
  • Completion rate
  • Digital take-up

Other example KPIs to consider measuring are:

  • Number of downloads
  • Transaction’s drop off rate
  • Payment succes rate

Using the Canvas

The ideal way to make use of the Government Service Model Canvas is collaboratively with your team – on a physical wall that everyone can view and contribute to. 

Download the Government Service Model Canvas for free here

References and further reading

  1. Strategyzer’s Business Model Canvas 
  2. Government Service Design Manual 
  3. Digital by Default Service Standards 
  4. Government Digital Service Design Principles 
  5. HM Treasury Green Book 
  6. HM Treasury Checklist for Assessment of Business Cases 
  7. Tech UK Three point plan for transformation of public services
  8. Measurement and KPIs 

(A shorter version of this blog first appeared on Tech UK’s ‘One page business plan for Government Digital Services’).