13. 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 aren’t able to get the help they need.
How you do it
- Define non-functional requirements
Establish when the service needs to be available, how many people are expected to use it at busy times and what impact any down-time might have
- Carry out quality assurance testing regularly
Establish system quality attributes for features and non-functional requirements and have a plan in place to deal with issues
- Test the service
Test the service in an environment that’s as similar to live as possible
- Plan for major events
Have a plan for disaster recovery in the event of a breach or major event that could disrupt service delivery
- Maximise uptime and speed of response for the online part of the service
Actively work towards fixing any organisational or contractual issues which make it difficult to maximise availability
- Deploy software changes regularly without significant downtime
Use automated end-to-end testing to ensure the service functions as designed and to protect against introducing regression as you continually improve the service
Links to detailed guidance:
- System quality attributes and non-functional requirements from Scottish Government
- Example test strategy with information about testing your service from Scottish Government
- Service Levels from Scottish Government
- Deploying software regularly from GDS
- Quality assurance testing from GDS
- Service availability from GDS
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