HMRC three-year IT strategy proposes low code and deployment of ‘evergreen reusable’ platforms across department

Tax agency publishes document setting out plans to promote digitisation and modernise tech infrastructure over the coming months, while supporting five key objective and enabling a revamp of internal structures

HM Revenue and Customs has published a multi-year IT strategy setting out plans to deploy “evergreen… reusable” platforms to be used by teams across the department, to support digitisation and infrastructure upgrades.

The newly released document – which covers over the three-year period from 2022 to 2025 – sets out plans and ambitions for how technology can be used to improve HMRC’s services and support its work to reform and digitise the UK’s tax system.

The strategy defines two key categories of technology that will be rolled out across HMRC to enable these objectives: “products” that deliver specific services and tasks and, supporting them, multi-purpose “platforms”.

As part of their implementation over the coming months, the department is “changing the way we  are organised internally”.

Such changes will mean that products – which are defined as a “collection of business capabilities delivered in a coherent value stream to our internal or external customers” – are jointly owned by the business area in which they are used and HMRC’s chief digital and information officer function.

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Underpinning products will be platforms, which are described as “a collection of reusable, modular and composable technology capabilities, comprising one or more technology tools or solutions”.

“These allow CDIO to provide the technology backbone for HMRC’s multiple business needs in a very scalable and cost-efficient manner,” the strategy says. “By providing ‘evergreen as a service’ platforms, with IT software and hardware that’s always up-to-date, we will enable new solutions and products to be built rapidly, created without a dependency on highly technical niche skills. We are putting teams in the driving seat to make decisions on products. We will become more agile and more impactful to serve our customers’ needs, whilst driving scale and efficiencies.”

The document outlines that platforms will be built “iteratively and incrementally” and will be founded on “core platforms to deliver… business capabilities”; these are likely to be built by the CDIO function and then rolled out to units across HMRC.

Also in use will be more specialised “enabling platforms” which “will include low/no code platforms that enable non-IT colleagues to create business applications”.

HMRC also plans to upgrade some central elements of its tech infrastructure, including improved systems for enterprise resource planning, case management, and IT service management. The strategy sets an ambition for ongoing cloud adoption and the “seamless integration” of new tech and “rationalisation” of systems that can be safely removed.

Additionally, the department wishes to increase its ability to “enable data insight-led decision-making.. through trusted, quality, consolidated data… augmented with the ethical use of artificial intelligence and machine learning”.

The strategic plan sets a target to grow technology skills build on HMRC’s existing status as “one of the most advanced digital functions in government”.

“Our diverse teams learn new skills and get to put them to the test to solve large-scale challenges with cutting-edge technology,” it added.

The overall aim of the strategy is to ensure that technology is effectively supporting the department’s five core objectives: “collect the right tax and pay out the right financial support; make HMRC a great place to work; maintain taxpayers’ consent through fair treatment and protect society from harm; make it easy to get tax right and hard to bend or break the rules; support wider government economic aims.”

In an introduction to the strategy, HMRC CDIO Daljit Rehal said: “HMRC has come a long way over recent years. We have much to be proud of in terms of how we’ve shifted services online as part of the government’s wider digital agenda. Our IT strategy will help us to protect key live services for our customers and colleagues, modernise our IT estate, get the best deals for the taxpayer, and give us better access to new technology as it comes along. I want leaders across HMRC’s technology function to be able to make decisions with our vision in mind and be thinking about everything they do and whether it’s moving us in the right direction.”

Sam Trendall

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