9. Make a plan for the event of the digital service being taken temporarily offline, and regularly test.

The purpose of this point is to endure there is a plan in place for the following types of offline situations:

  • Scheduled - when routine maintenance or upgrades are taking place
  • Unscheduled - when an unexpected outage has occurred.

You should make a plan for the event of the digital service being taken temporarily offline. This plan needs to handle scheduled updates as well as database, network and server errors. The plan needs to include roles and responsibilities of staff as well as the technical recovery processes and priorities. It is possible you will need to recover from a previous backup and there may be data loss. It should be considered that other channels such as telephones will experience an increase in volume when the service is down. A communications plan must be included to inform the users as well as support staff.

You should plan and carry out regular tests of the service to check any resilience or redirection capabilities are operating correctly and ensure the user experience is as expected.

It is important to design in the right level of resilience and system availability for your users. This could mean you need it to be available 24 hours a day and 365 days a year.

To achieve the level of uptime you need involves good planning and design. You should consider how transactions in-flight are handled during an unscheduled outage and ensure you have appropriate commitment control in place to minimise data corruption.

There is some helpful guidance on this in the Uptime and availability: keeping your service online section of the Government Service Design Manual.


The Standard was launched on 7 April 2016.

This guidance was last amended on 17 June 2016 as part of Service Standard Sprint #1.

You can read more about the Standard here.

All content in this guide is available under the Open Government Licence v3.0, except where otherwise stated.