Supporting UK Parliament to design a dynamic operating model

The problem

The UK’s parliament is one of the world’s oldest democratic institutions. As the custodian of the nation’s democratic and legislative processes, it has a deeply felt culture which has evolved over centuries.

Like many historic institutions, it also relies on an ageing technology estate, and digital and IT teams have not always understood or been able to focus on the real needs of users - including MPs, peers and citizens.

Since 2022, Public Digital has been working with the Parliamentary Digital Service (PDS) and its Transforming Digital Programme to transition Parliament to a new dynamic and responsive digital and data operating model designed to meet user needs.

What we did

We helped Parliament set up their digital and data function so it could deliver value for its users, and adapt to constant change.

We started by reviewing the existing operating model and ways of working, speaking to staff, stakeholders, and managers. We looked at how teams worked, how digital investments were funded, how decisions were made, what was being delivered and what the Parliamentary Digital Service needed to achieve.

Working with stakeholders and delivery teams, we then co-designed a new approach to put user needs first, with the capability to respond when these changed. This included transitioning to a more sustainable funding model for digital products and platforms, introducing agile governance approaches, and a greater focus on priorities and outcomes.

To embed this new way of working, we worked with the Transforming Digital programme and the Product and Platforms Directorates in PDS over two years, across all levels of leadership and delivery. This included:

  • Bringing in product management and service design practices;

  • Helping programme and product teams determine the priorities for delivery across their products, and setting these out in roadmaps;

  • Setting up a number of exemplar services, coaching their teams through inception, discovery and alpha;

  • Supporting senior PDS leaders to understand and manage risks in their technology lifecycle, and providing advice on future trends.

All of this was underpinned by one-to-one-coaching by Public Digital across the organisation, from the CIO down to practitioner level, around how to produce and manage digital services in Parliament’s unique context.

Speaking about the experience of working with us, Dan Cook, Interim CIO and Managing Director of the Parliamentary Digital Service said: "Public Digital are accessible, expert and authentic. 

"They are, by far, the best partner I have ever worked with. They bring knowledge from many sectors and give access to skills and experts in every discipline, all bound together by a consistent company ethos."

PD Sessions Democracy
Dan Cook and the PD team.

What we achieved

We helped the UK Parliament design a dynamic digital and data operating model to better meet its users’ needs.

  1. 1

    The new operating model is now embedded across parliament, supported by new funding, governance, and a playbook.

  2. 2

    High profile services have been successfully launched, role modelling and proving the value of open, agile and user-centred ways of working.

  3. 3

    A sustainable digital transformation function has been created, enabling Parliament to respond to changing user needs and external factors.

  4. 4

    Parliament has changed how it funds and governs digital investments, so that supporting and enabling functions buy into agile, iterative delivery which reduces risk.

We think that working closely with our clients and being open and honest is key in how we support organisations. 

Dan Cook said: "We have a true and solid partnership: it is like having an additional leadership team alongside me to help me as a leader, which will always tell me the most important thing I need to hear.

"Our golden thread throughout our transformation journey has been an external Public Digital team that has always got what we were trying to do, and that continually supported, challenged, and got us to think about our decisions. They have never put their own interests ahead of the outcomes I was trying to achieve."


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