Product Owner (Future Grant Making System), Ref 17/125

London or Birmingham


£75,000 pa

About Us

The Big Lottery Fund (the Fund) distributes around £650 million of National Lottery Funding across the UK each year supporting health, educational, environmental, and charitable projects. We are fortunate to be able to support around 12,000 projects each year with grants ranging from as little as £500 to multi million pound programmes. We are the largest funder of community activity in the UK and we put people at the heart of everything we do.

The Fund is committed to putting people in the lead – it is our official vision and our top priority. To that end we are taking significant steps to embrace the user-centred, iterative culture of service design and digital development, putting those values and practices at the heart of how we work. As a sign of how seriously we are pursuing this vision, we are creating a new service design team.

Our mix of skills and ways of working have recently been substantially influenced by the Government Digital Service’s Service Design Manual, and by agile, user-centred working practices seen across the world. We are big fans of working in the open, where possible, and you can see some of our current digital work on our public GitHub repository at

About the role

The Big Lottery Fund has historically used a variety of technical systems to manage the information that is required before a decision can be made about whether to make a grant, or turn down an application.

These systems are now aging, and suffer from various shortcomings including:

  • Little connection to the front-end of our website
  • Focused more on internal needs than user needs
  • An absence of CRM functionality
  • Poor usability for staff

The Fund has a long-standing aspiration to replace these systems with one or more digital systems that will help us to manage applications and pre-application conversations with ease and fluidity.

We are therefore seeking to hire a senior leader to be responsible for the design and delivery of our new grant making systems as well as ongoing related continuous improvement. It is a role that will include developing a deep understanding of internal and external user needs, turning these needs into prototypes, and then choosing and implementing technologies that will be used by hundreds of our colleagues, and thousands of our users. It is a major, business critical challenge that will result in one of the UK’s leading funders becoming better and more responsive to the communities that we serve.

Key Responsibilities

  • To be responsible for the research, design, prototyping, testing and delivery of a new grant making system
  • To be responsible for the continuous improvement of that grant making system
  • To be responsible for ensuring that work is done in a timely and efficient way at high quality
  • To build an appropriate team to ensure that this project is delivered with an acceptable level of project risk, and at an acceptable cost and pace with appropriate project management support
  • To collaborate with colleagues to slowly and responsibly phase out the current systems, as they are replaced by the new ones
  • To build an appropriate team that can manage and deliver this project
  • To be the decision-maker on any project decisions that do not require top level approval
  • To act as the ‘face of the project’ to the whole organisation and to champion a user needs driven approach
  • To help ensure that the number of core funding products remains small and controlled

 Required experience

 You’ll need experience in:

 Being responsible for the design and delivery of at least one major digital system used by a business or organisation to manage its work

  • Building or growing at least one team of mixed skills to deliver such a project
  • Working within agile, iterative projects that respond quickly to user needs
  • Making key project choices about required technologies and skills, based on thorough research, experimentation and comparison
  • Collecting and interpreting user research and relevant data to help inform decisions
  • Collaborating with designers, user researchers and technologists to successfully deliver products or services together
  • Negotiating and explaining product or service design decisions clearly and simply, and representing a service to a variety of stakeholders / audiences

Desirable Experience

The following are not essential, but will strengthen your application:

  • Experience of being responsible for the design and delivery of several digital projects that had both front and back end users
  • Previous employment in highly technical roles such as programmer, designer, system architect, data scientist etc.
  • Experience of having replaced historic company back-end systems with more modern ones, and having managed that transition


You will need to have product design skills, including:

  • A real understanding and empathy for our users
  • Knowledge of user-centred design approaches
  • An ability to analyse and interpret data in order to make better decisions
  • Developing success metrics

You will need to have data and technology skills, including:

  • Strong familiarity with the ways that software applications work, and especially how they interact with each other
  • Knowledge of good digital security practices
  • A clear understanding of structure and unstructured data
  • Good working knowledge of at least a few common technology systems, which must stretch beyond exclusively Microsoft products
  • Familiarity with what is and is not possible when it comes to configuring or programming off-the-shelf software packages, software languages, databases, SaaS services, and operating systems
  • Familiarity with techniques for testing digital systems
  • An ability to navigate heavily regulated environments, where due considerations for the needs of factors such as Data Protection and Audit are incorporated into business as usual
  • Note – you do not have to have software development skills

We are an equal opportunities employer. We positively welcome applications from disabled people, who are under-represented in our workforce.