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The GDS Way and its content is intended for internal use by the GDS and CO CDIO communities.

How GDS uses quarterly planning

Some GDS and CDIO teams plan roadmaps for the year ahead and deliver in 3-month cycles. A team’s work for a quarter is called a ‘mission’ and described by objectives and key results (OKRs).

For each quarter the planning process defines:

  • mission priorities
  • which missions happen
  • forecast benefits
  • dependencies
  • team sizes and who works where

GDS teams work in an agile way, releasing frequently. Missions finish at the end of each quarter and there’s no assumption a piece of work will necessarily continue into the next quarter.

Product roadmaps

GDS creates product visions and roadmaps for each service for the year ahead, prioritising high-value work.

The GDS product roadmap cycle involves:

  • the GDS Strategy and Investment Board
  • Product Delivery and Technology Deputy Directors
  • Product Managers, Delivery Managers and Teams

All these roles help create product visions and roadmaps for each GDS service.

Roadmaps can include:

  • new features
  • business as usual (BAU) work to support a service
  • work to fix issues
  • explorative work, like discoveries
  • enhancements to efficiency, like adopting DevOps tooling
  • discovery or alpha work
  • resolving technical debt

The Service Manual has more information about roadmaps.


The quarterly planning process defines what teams work on during a quarter, including the size and makeup of the teams doing the work.

Inputs into prioritisation include:

  • BAU ‘lights on’ work
  • people and skills availability
  • departmental and programme commitments

Quarterly planning takes into account:

  • newly approved work
  • risk management
  • dependencies
  • GDS strategy
  • GDS external commitments

People express their interest in moving product areas through surveys, along with conversations in GDS communities of practice. These results help decide who moves each quarter due to changes in product priorities. They also help decide which work will continue into the next quarter as well as the size of the teams.

The GDS Strategy and Investment board signs off each quarter’s scope, expressed as a list of missions prioritised using the MoSCoW method.

Potential missions can come from many sources, for example service teams, programme directors or deputy directors.

Further reading

Read more about the concepts behind quarterly planning:

This page was last reviewed on 29 April 2021. It needs to be reviewed again on 29 October 2021 by the page owner #gds-way .
This page was set to be reviewed before 29 October 2021 by the page owner #gds-way. This might mean the content is out of date.