Prioritising work for HMRC transition

The HMRC transition is the largest agency transition to GOV.UK. The HMRC website has:

  • 13 million page views each week (this figure excludes page views on the online services that require the user to log in);
  • 100,000 pages of content; and
  • hosts about 100 tools and calculators.

Prioritising work on a project as large as this is complicated by the complexity of user journeys and many dependencies, but of all of the principles that are guiding our work, and I will cover in this blog post, user needs is the most important.

User needs by topic

The first principle guiding our work is user needs. The main purpose of this project is not simply to move HMRC onto GOV.UK, but to better meet user needs. We therefore start the process of transition with user needs analysis, which we manage at a topic-by-topic level.

With our colleagues in HMRC, we have split the HMRC website into more than 50 topics, eg Charities, PAYE, VAT and Tax credits. We analyse the user needs for each topic and create user stories that form the basis of the topic’s content plan and our understanding of the need for new products and content types on GOV.UK.

This analysis also helps us understand user needs in content that overlaps with other topics and with other agencies. For example, HMRC shares user needs about charities with the Charity Commission, and about limited companies with Companies House.

Prioritising each topic

User needs analysis also helps us to prioritise topics by:

  • traffic volumes, using data from HMRC contact centre traffic, paper post and web analytics - we want to make sure the topics that cater to the needs of the largest number of people are prioritised
  • impact on users - we also want to make sure the topics that make the biggest difference to users are getting a proportionate amount of our attention

Prioritisation is also influenced by:

  • the work GDS is doing to meet product gaps on GOV.UK
  • peak periods for HMRC users and compliance areas
  • HMRC subject matter expert availability (often related to the peak periods)
  • HMRC digital transformation project dependencies

Dependencies on product gaps

Some topics (and other agencies) have user needs that can’t be met by putting content into the existing content types or by the functionality GOV.UK currently offers. GDS has established a specialist team to build GOV.UK into a website that can also meet these needs. The team are using the discovery work from the HMRC transition team to build new features on GOV.UK to meet those needs, for example meeting the needs of tax specialists to keep updated with a feed of the latest from HMRC (previously "HMRC What's new").  Prioritisation of HMRC content topics relies heavily on the prioritisation and delivery planning within the GOV.UK specialist team, eg without a specialist browse structure or the front end for the HMRC manuals it isn’t yet possible to transition a topic with a large amount of specialist content such as Corporation Tax.

Peak periods for HMRC users and compliance areas

There are periods of peak activity for certain topic areas, eg self assessment for personal tax in the October and January peak filing periods. This gives us windows of opportunity to transition particular pieces of content when usage is not at a peak, to minimise the disruption for users. It also ensures the business area within HMRC that review the content is available to work on transition.

HMRC subject matter expert availability

An HMRC subject matter expert must review and fact check all content before it can be released on GOV.UK, so we factor into our planning the periods when those experts are available to deal with the additional workload of transition.

HMRC digital transformation project dependencies

HMRC has 4 digital transformation exemplar projects but also many other digital projects delivering new functionality that will make it easier for users to fulfil their tax obligations. We are building content that will support and link to those services, which means we need to co-ordinate the release times for some topics with the launch of those new systems.

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