I remember the day clearly, I turned up to a meeting with colleagues from HMRC and GDS to discuss one of the 'Digital Exemplars' HMRC had included in its Digital Strategy. It was PAYE for employees which I'd just started to work on as the lead designer. When I arrived our now Digital Director took me to one side and said 'Lee, you're the Digital Service Manager for PAYE'! As she smiled and walked into the meeting room, I remember feeling very excited, for a brief moment, before asking myself, what the heck is a Digital Service Manager. The date was 16 January 2013.
There is some great guidance now such as this which tells us what a Digital Service Manager does, which has been built up over the last 14 months by GDS and Digital Service Managers across Government. It didn't exist on 16 January 2013, I know as I googled Digital Service Manager on my way in to the aforementioned meeting!
But thats the guidance, what is being a Digital Service Manager really like in a large public sector organisation such as HMRC. Well, I can honestly say the last 14 months have been the most exciting, inspiring and rewarding of my career. I have been able to help create a vision for a service which will in time be open to 41 million users. Whats more, I've been able to do this around user needs. My team and I have looked at what users really need to manage their tax, why HMRC receives 73 million telephone calls and 20 million letters and sends out 193 million letters each year!! One of the things you get in HMRC is scale!
One of my most exciting things last year was making the alpha for PAYE for employees. We came out of discovery with a prioritised list of user needs. And the funny thing is, I kind of use terms like 'alpha' and discovery' now almost without thinking, but way back in 2013 this was revolutionary stuff for HMRC.
We were in a world of 'classic waterfall' with reams of documents and paper. You could say that 2013 was the year I had been pining for for some time! Anyway, why was the alpha so exciting? Well we created the first HMRC Digital Team, we defined a minimum viable product for PAYE taxpayers, we created a new cloud based platform which would host our service applications, we integrated with a test Identity Assurance Service, we built the PAYE application and we created a RESTful API with the big PAYE back end system, which had never been done before!
We did that in several short months. In essence we proved we could enable users to securely access and view their tax records, make changes to them and send them straight back – no telephone calls, no paper, no hassle, no mess. By doing that we have opened the door to revolutionise how taxpayers will be able to interact with HMRC.
We have been working hard on turning that alpha into a beta and are pretty close to achieving that, more on that later. But what a year 2013 was!
I can honestly say I love my job. I love coming into work every day and working with an extraordinary team of brilliant individuals. I can not imagine working anywhere else which would give me more satisfaction and challenge. Working in Government has become cool - I can get excited and actually make things. And for those who have not seen Tom Loosemore at Mind the Product from 2012, take a look. It inspired me when I first saw it. I am excited and I am making things that are making a real difference – better public services to end users which are cheaper services for the taxpayer.
If this sounds interesting, we’re we’re hiring so why not take a look at the roles on offer.