Aerial view of Plymouth at night

HM Land Registry: Productivity gains via an enhanced migration

HM Land Registry is a non-ministerial department that safeguards land and property ownership valued at £8 trillion, ensuring that land and property rights in England and Wales are guaranteed and protected. It aims to become the world’s leading land registry for speed and simplicity, with an open approach to data.

With its ambitious digital transformation programme underway, HM Land Registry engaged Scott Logic as a high-quality, UK-based delivery partner. We were commissioned to share responsibility for the planning and delivery of a range of projects, complementing and extending HM Land Registry’s capabilities by providing multidisciplinary teams of consultants.

One of the projects concerned the internal system that was used to manage customer applications to update the Land Register. Thousands of caseworkers used this application processing system, but the technologies on which it was built were no longer widely supported. HM Land Registry identified the productivity and efficiency gains that could be achieved by updating the system’s technologies and asked Scott Logic to manage this tech refresh.

HM Land Registry logo

Adding value to a system migration

The initial scope of work was the migration of screen input components and flows from the old React user interface into a GOV.UK-compliant Python Flask. However, early engagement by our team with HM Land Registry stakeholders soon uncovered the potential to add significant value by streamlining the user experience at the same time, resulting in improved overall product quality.

HM Land Registry’s Design team had already identified numerous pain points that impeded caseworker productivity. Based on these insights, our team worked with HM Land Registry stakeholders to make the case successfully that the scope should be expanded to include a prioritised set of interface improvements.

With the revised scope agreed, project delivery commenced with a workshop to allow our team to get up to speed with the user research undertaken to date and to have a runthrough of how caseworkers used the system. This was followed by a prioritisation session that used a set of agreed principles to select the interface improvements that would deliver the most value for the least effort.

From there, we engaged with HM Land Registry’s Design team to gain a detailed understanding of roles, responsibilities and processes. One of our designers fostered harmonious collaboration throughout the delivery phase and acted as the interface between HM Land Registry’s design team and our engineering team, helping with the translation of their design requirements into working code.

Directing delivery in close collaboration

A row of houses on a hill on a sunny day

The Scott Logic consultants formed a self-directed, multidisciplinary team within HM Land Registry’s Transformation & Technology department, bringing together experts in delivery, software engineering, UX design and business analysis, overseen by a Delivery Principal.

Scott Logic’s experience from several other HM Land Registry projects facilitated the rapid onboarding of the team into the organisation’s engineering and governance processes, ensuring alignment from the start. Close collaboration with stakeholders was vital, particularly in relation to dependency management; this project was part of a wider programme of projects that also required changes to the interface.

Building on the foundational user research, the Scott Logic team worked closely with HM Land Registry’s Design team during delivery, taking a collaborative and iterative approach to designing, prototyping and testing the new designs with users. For greater efficiency, the design work was streamlined with a two-track approach depending on the extent and complexity of design changes needed.

The casework processes consisted of a series of user flows through the system, meaning that our team could design, build and test complete end-to-end user journeys. It also allowed the team to release increments of working software into production throughout the delivery phase, so that value was delivered to HM Land Registry early and often. The HM Land Registry teams praised our ways of working as an exemplar of collaboration.

Throughout the project, the team reported to and was steered by HM Land Registry’s governance bodies. In addition to the touchpoints provided by the usual sprint ceremonies, representatives of the individual disciplines within our team met regularly with HM Land Registry’s development, test and UX design bodies.

Our delivery experts participated in fortnightly delivery assurance meetings, as well as HM Land Registry’s quarterly delivery planning meetings, to support change and risk management. To keep the wider HM Land Registry community up to speed with the project, our team ran show-and-tell demos at town hall meetings.

Meeting exacting standards

The application processing system was internal-facing, so it was not required to meet the same standards as an external-facing system. However, HM Land Registry understood the business value of complying with these standards; first, through the productivity improvements that a streamlined user experience would yield; and second, through standardising the software capabilities required to maintain the organisation’s systems.

Consequently, our team strove to meet all the necessary standards required for an external application. The shift to Python Flask necessitated fundamental changes to the system to comply with HM Land Registry’s architectural standards. In making the improvements to the user interface, the team complied with both international WCAG standards for web accessibility and Government Digital Service (GDS) Design Standards.

Two developers working at computers

The overall delivery was structured to meet the GDS Service Standard; and while an official service assessment was not required, the system still went through a rigorous internal assessment along the same lines.

Providing a hands-on handover

During the project, our team delivered all of the end-to-end user flows that HM Land Registry had identified as the highest priorities.

As the engagement drew to a close, a handful of lower-priority user flows remained to be migrated. Our team seized the opportunity to offer a highly practical handover to the HM Land Registry delivery and support teams.

Delegating to those teams a number of smaller flows, the Scott Logic team provided an on-project knowledge transfer. In this way, the HM Land Registry teams that would manage the long-term maintenance of the new user interface gained early exposure to the technology while our team was still in place, ensuring a successful handover.

As a result, HM Land Registry caseworkers benefited from a new, accessible interface with a frictionless user experience that they themselves had designed. Ongoing maintenance of the overhauled system was derisked thanks to the use of the standard HM Land Registry tech stack and a highly effective handover.

The streamlined interface – in combination with the process automation implemented by another Scott Logic team – boosted caseworker productivity, enabling HM Land Registry to deliver even greater value for money to its customers.