Since early 2019, Scott Logic has been working with the Scottish Government’s digital directorate, supporting its digital strategy, A changing nation: how Scotland will thrive in a digital world. This ambitious strategy focuses on a digital and collaborative government that delivers services to meet the needs of the public.

Scott Logic’s involvement has been in the design and development of a shared payments platform, which is a core part of the process of public service reform.

The introduction of a new payments service is intended to reduce the level of risk, duplication, inconsistency and inefficiency across central and local government, centralising and standardising the service, and reducing the many ways in which payments are currently being paid and received.

Earlier in 2021, we regrouped as a project, reviewed our progress to date and refocused the project in order to achieve our goal to process real payments to citizens by the end of the year. Up to this point we’d made significant progress but reminding the team of our shared goal, provided purpose and motivation.

Producing a service capable of processing live payments requires a lot of close collaboration, coordination and a clear sense of priorities. This wasn’t a time for glitter and polish, this was a time to make tough decisions about what the service needed to be, both technically and for its users.

In the months leading up to this milestone, we had four coordinated Scott Logic teams working together with input, feedback and guidance from the Scottish Government and its users. With any large project delivery, particularly in the run up to a significant release, there are many parallel activities and risks to manage, together with some unplanned activities that manifest without notice and threaten to delay or push the delivery off-course.

The challenges we faced could’ve derailed the project but there was significant collaboration and support across the teams, and a willingness to succeed. A clear, shared goal maintained consistency and ensured that decisions were based on a specific outcome, a well written and prioritised backlog provided structure, regular video calls supported a clear channel of communication, and the establishment of a run book provided clear steps to implement, test and operate the service.

Digital transformation is demanding and challenging, but it can be rewarding too. Developing services that have a tangible, social impact is really motivating for a team. Knowing that the efforts we expend now will have a positive impact for years to come drives us to make the right decisions. If those decisions don’t produce the right result the first time, we’ll take any feedback onboard and we’ll iterate until we get it right.

On 8th December this year, using the service that had been designed and developed by Scott Logic and the Scottish Government, our users successfully processed the first batch of payments to citizens. This was an incredibly proud moment for all those involved, the completion of a major milestone, achieved despite the numerous challenges thrown our way.

The success of the project this year means we go into the new year with a solid foundation on which to develop the service further. There will be further complexity to manage as we build on these foundations and prepare for operational readiness. The risks and impact of this centralised payments service will be far reaching and there will be a lot of scrutiny to assure security and usability before we go into live service. That assurance will ensure that the service we take into production is one that will serve the citizens of Scotland well for many years to come, and will be one that all those involved can be proud of.