Helping HMRC to progress the Multi-channel Digital Tax Platform

We’re training apprentices and enabling teams to build on one of the largest and most highly regarded platforms in the public sector.

The project

The Multi-channel Digital Tax Platform, which was developed in 2015, is a cloud platform for over 130 user-facing applications and 900 microservices that have been built as part of HMRC’s ‘making tax digital’ strategy. It provides an easy way for teams to build and deploy an application that can scale to handle millions of requests.

Image showing the HM Treasury building beneath a blue sky
Photo showing a person with a pen and notepad looking at a laptop

Our approach

In December 2019, we began helping HMRC to manage, support, progress and develop the platform as part of mixed teams of Made Tech engineers, Civil Service participants and other suppliers. This has involved using bleeding edge AWS technology that hasn’t been used before and included a migration to ECS from home grown tools that had been used before ECS and Kubernetes existed.

The platform teams have helped HMRC to rapidly build and deploy the key new applications used to roll out the Government’s COVID-19 stimulus package. These include the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the Self Employment Income Support Scheme and the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme.

Furthermore, we have helped HMRC to increase capacity and replace an external training supplier who wasn’t meeting the specific needs of the platform. We supplied an Apprentice Lead and leveraged our experience and learning materials from the Made Tech Academy to establish a full-time academy training 10 apprentices.

This has involved developing the skills required to be DevOps engineers, as well as integrating them into the platform teams. This technology skills enablement work includes Test Driven Development, Python, Infrastructure as Code (Terraform), AWS, Agile software development, communication and collaboration.

The results

Since the start of the engagement, our team has grown to seven engineers with a requirement for five more to be added. During this time, the COVID 19 pandemic struck but it didn’t stop us from launching HMRC’s MDTP Apprentice Academy, which included tailored course content that would have been ambitious even under normal conditions.

Furthermore, the Multi-channel Digital Tax Platform we are progressing has excelled during this period, as it has needed to support a range of new applications that have experienced enormous spikes in user numbers at launch and beyond.

For example, employers made 67,000 job claims within half an hour of the Job Retention Scheme going live, while more than 110,000 people applied for government grants via the Self Employment Income Scheme on the first day of its operation.

As a result of these successful launches, the HMRC team won the Real IT award for ‘Best IT team during COVID-19’.

Photo showing the 2020 Real IT Awards winners web page on alaptop

“I am in awe of the problem-crunching fury with which HMRC and the Treasury created the furlough scheme and all the other means of support.”

From Prime Minister Boris Johnson, June 2020

The results

  • 130 user-facing applications supported
  • 900 microservices enabled
  • Rapid scaling of key COVID-19 services
  • Awarded ‘Best IT team during COVID-19
  • Bleeding edge AWS technology used
  • Migration of platform to AWS ECS
  • Expansion of team to 12 engineers
  • Full-time academy launched
  • Apprentices trained as DevOps engineers

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