How improved UX lowered costs and increased customer satisfaction at the HM Courts & Tribunals Service.

The Ministry of Justice supports millions of people across the UK every year, servicing 500 courts and tribunals. One key department, HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS), had embarked on an internally-led Digital Transformation programme to:

  • Reduce costs by improving operational efficiency;

  • Improve the experience and delivery of services to the public.

Like all transformation initiatives, the complexity ahead was daunting: HMCTS needed to introduce new technologies, embed new ways of working, and upskill their teams - and they needed to do it as quickly as possible.

AND’s focus on accelerating digital capabilities by building products and upskilling team simultaneously was an ideal match for the challenge ahead.

As a public service, it was vital any improvements be firmly user-centric.

AND brought together a pilot group of 100 representative users, and through a series of lab and ‘guerilla’ UX sessions, successfully created a range of UX artefacts, including:

  • User journeys

  • Personas

  • Coded prototypes

  • Service maps

AND introduced Scrum into the delivery process, but in order to make it work, we adapted key aspects, including ceremonies. This ensured the team were better able to deliver within the unique environment and needs of HMCTS.

UX activities, too, were tailored and delivered through a ‘UX runway’ approach. This instilled a culture of iteration over fixed scope, and where features and design challenges always began with identifying user needs.

As this was a greenfield environment, a key requirement was to define the tech stack. Working with the architecture and operations teams, we assessed a range of well-supported technologies and tools, including:

  • JavaScript (with Node.js)

  • Java 8 (using Spring Boot)

  • Jenkins

  • Docker

  • Ansible

From day one, the project included the need to redesign structures and working practices for delivery teams at HMCTS. We worked with the commercial team to define optimum team sizes, role and team profiles, as well as supporting recruitment for priority roles.

Meanwhile, our coaches provided training in Agile, user-centric design principles, and the application of Government Digital Service Standards to prepare the teams for the revised approach to delivery.

As a result of the work we delivered with the HMCTS:

  • In 12 months, the HMCTS had three high-performing Agile teams in place where none existed previously.

  • Over 150,000 people used the new probate platform in the first 12 months, achieving a 93% customer satisfaction rate - the highest of any HMCTS digital service launched that year.

  • The first HMCTS digital platform was delivered into production, allowing the public to submit Probate applications online. A week after go live, grants could also be issued directly through the platform.

  • The platform met WCAG 2.0 design principles, significantly improving the accessibility of the service.