Technology Assurance Framework – insights on resourcing and capability

June 25, 2024 by No Comments | Category Digital Assurance Office, Technology Assurance Framework

Guest blog by Berit Braun, Continuous Improvement team, Digital Assurance Office.

The Digital Assurance Office (DAO), who administer the Technology Assurance Framework (TAF), share the lessons learned from their assurance reviews to support others to deliver effectively.

This blog shares our insights on the improvements project teams had to make to ensure they had the right capacity and capability to successfully deliver their project. You can catch up on the previous DAO assurance insights on our blog page.

Major digital project reviews

Between 2017/18 and 2023/24, 240 major project reviews have been completed under the Technology Assurance Framework (TAF), resulting in 2,029 recommendations for improvement. Resourcing affects all aspects of project delivery and is therefore considered at each assurance point throughout the project’s lifecycle.

Analysing the recommendations from our reviews, we found that 8% of all recommendations made relate to resourcing and 42% of reports include at least one recommendation related to this theme. Below is a summary of the dominant focus of these recommendations for improvement.

1. project leadership is key to success and needs to be in place throughout the project lifecycle. Each project should have a formally appointed Senior Responsible Officer (SRO) whose responsibilities and objectives are set out in an appointment letter issued by the Accountable Officer (AO). The SRO should appoint an experienced project manager and, where applicable, programme director to manage the programme/project on their behalf. This will ensure clear lines of accountability and sufficient capacity for day-to-day leadership and decision-making.

2. project teams should develop and regularly review a resource plan that reflects project requirements, includes contingency options and effectively interacts with overall project plans. Appropriate resource estimation and forecasting methodology should be used to inform resource needs, identify skills gaps and ensure manageable workloads. This resource plan should be actively used to inform budget requirements and how and when resources are brought onto the project. It will also allow the project to secure input from subject matter experts in good time. In the development and regular review of the resource plan, the project should consider:

  • the core skills which are needed in the project team as well as the specialist expertise (e.g. cyber, legal) that will be required at times during the project
  • drawing on available expertise and skills from other teams/organisations
  • securing procurement and commercial expertise early on to advise on the projects’ procurement/commercial approach and procurement journey
  • considering the resource required to effectively manage the supplier(s) following contract award. Depending on scale and complexity, projects should consider the need for full time embedded procurement and/or contract management resource
  • securing adequate funding and/or effectively communicate the risks of not securing the required resource levels, with the SRO escalating risks where required.
  • prioritising resources effectively around budget, time or other constraints, and proactively manage associated risks.

3. training needs should be identified and opportunities to meet these needs should be supported. Where significant training needs exist across the whole or parts of the project team, these should be captured and addressed using a training plan with associated implications for team capacity reflected in the overall project plan.

4. the transition at project end, whether from supplier to project/operational staff or from project team to operational staff, should be actively planned for to ensure knowledge transfer and operational success.

5. projects need to avoid, reduce or mitigate against single points of failure, particularly where personnel changes to key roles might have significant effects on project leadership, knowledge transfer and/or overall project delivery.

6. the project’s leadership should carefully consider whether key roles should be filled permanently or using external, potentially short-term resource. Where the latter is chosen, associated risks need to be actively managed to ensure continuity within the team and effective knowledge transfer.

Digital Scotland Service Standard assessments

Criterion 6 of the Digital Scotland Service Standard (DSSS) focuses on the importance of having a multidisciplinary team for delivering services. DSSS assessments are another form of independent assurance carried out by the Digital Assurance Office.

Helen Barratt, Portfolio Engagement Officer at the Digital Assurance Office, said:

“The Standard highlights that having a team with the right mix of skills and effective ways of working is key to successfully designing and delivering user centred digital services. Our assessments provide an opportunity to the Service Team to consider whether they have the right skills in place at the right time and what the risks are to delivery if they do not.

Criterion 6 asks the service team to demonstrate that they have a good understanding of the skills needed to design, develop and manage the service at each stage, set out in a formal resource plan which they regularly review and update. This practice is crucial as it underpins the ability of the team to both consider and communicate the resource and budget requirements for a service throughout the delivery phases.”

To support project teams to learn from the experience of others, the Digital Assurance Office (DAO) have published several case studies, including:

If you want to get involved in sharing insights which might help others deliver digital projects – or have thoughts on what insights would be helpful to share – contact us at

For expert guidance on delivering a digital project in the Scottish public sector, visit the Digital Scotland Service Manual.

The specialist roles that may be required at the different stages of a digital project are set out in:

The Scottish Digital Academy is the public sector centre of expertise for digital capability and can provide information, advice and guidance on developing digital, data and technology skills to support transformation.

The Social Security Programme have developed a wide range of case studies, interviews and blogs which reference how to resource a major Programme including the different specialist roles involved in the delivery of major digital projects. Internal Scottish Government colleagues can access these resources via Pathways. For those external to the Scottish Government, please contact the Our Story team direct to arrange access.

For further information and signposting to advice and support on programme and project management contact the Programme and Project Management Centre for Expertise.

The Scottish Government programme and project management principles are available and apply to any project of any size.

The Scottish Public Finance Manual section on major investment projects sets out the requirements around project accountability. Contact the Programme and Project Management Centre for Expertise for SRO appointment letter guidance and templates.

The Scottish procurement: policy manual provides guidance on the procurement policies that apply to the Scottish Government as well as guidance on Contract and Supplier Management (CSM).

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