Lessons learned from building a government service

Policy as urban legend

I spent a lot of time worrying about policy that didn’t exist. That sounds mad, but I suspect there are many teams in government doing the same thing.

  • Secondary legislation
  • Documents that make some sort of commitment to internal or external stakeholders.
  • That there will be a “button” on a page allowing the user of the page to filter their search results.

Service owner as sceptic

We started the project without a full time service owner, but when one joined it made a massive difference. Having a service owner who understands that some policies don’t exist and how policies that do exist can change is the only way around this. Our service owner knew this and cut short our journey into a number of rabbit holes that would ultimately have sabotaged launch had we pursued them.

Keep expectations high

You can build high performing engineering teams in government. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need scores of engineers with glittering CVs and a truck full of venture capital to achieve all of the things that we know work.



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Tito Sarrionandia

Tito Sarrionandia

Head of frontend engineering at Babylon Health. Formerly ThoughtWorks, Made Tech, school teacher.