Categories: Digital transformation, Legal, Multitenancy
For hundreds of years, justice systems across the world have relied on the use of paper to record forms, evidence, cases and decisions. However, in the decade since 2010, fuelled by the advent of Cloud technologies, information systems have achieved sufficient maturity, reliability and scalability to become a suitable medium for judicial and legal data. As a result, most justice systems are initiating digital transformation programmes to modernise their ways of working.
One such digital transformation took the form of a £1bn programme composed of over 50 projects across Civil and Family courts and tribunals, within HMCTS. The targeted outcome is to improve citizen's access to justice, rationalise the judicial technology estate and implement more efficient processes.
To be successful, this programme required a backbone: a common platform removing duplication and streamlining the delivery of online Government services across multiple areas (Divorce, Probate, Civil Money Claims, etc.).
Most services follow a similar pattern, a citizen or solicitor apply and their case is progressed through a workflow with one or many decision gates. Requirements around security and audit are also shared by all projects.
Each service implementing its own backend platform would result in a significant overlap between projects, slower delivery and higher cost to taxpayers.
In accordance with Government guidelines, delivery would typically be iterative and user-centred, following a structure of Discovery, Alpha, Beta and Live project phases. Additionally, during Alpha and Beta phases, changes can be made at pace.
As a consequence, components involved in the delivery must allow for fast iteration and frequent deliveries.
With 10+ projects running concurrently at any time, the programme requires strong collaboration and coordination between teams to ensure dependencies are met and conflicts avoided. Any common platform shared by the projects must enable that coordination and collaboration to take place.
A common platform removing duplication across projects would need to support:
- the transposition of paper-based processes into digital workflows
- the ability for each service to model their respective, unique data schemas
- native multitenancy enforcing strong separation of services
- Large volume of data: around 4 million cases across the supported service areas per year
- Long data retention periods to preserve judicial outcome of each case
- Large user base: around a thousand active staff members and supporting all UK citizens and legal service solicitors
A configuration-driven, flexible case management solution like QuickCase is perfectly suited to act as the backbone of this digital transformation programme. Each legal service can own and iterate, in isolation, their data model and workflow while securing them adequately for their consumers, be it citizens, solicitors, caseworkers, court staff or judges. QuickCase thus acts as a silver bullet, consistently handling elements of commonality between projects and enabling fast delivery with focus on areas of uniqueness.
QuickCase, having a multitenancy element at its core, enabled the programme to scale up many independent services supporting their own distinct areas. Each service can store its data and workflows with no visibility whatsoever to other tenants.
Tenant separation is powered by QuickCase's role-based access control: each service defines the roles for their tenancy and only users with one of these roles can access the service's data.
After an initial phase, the business transformation then required for central call centres to be able to access basic case information across all tenants to handle customer enquiries. Using QuickCase's configurable access control capability (see more details below), the business was able to set up cross-tenant access quickly allowing for fast business benefit realisation.
The programme, following a Scaled Agile delivery methodology (separate teams with separate backlogs and needs to deliver), required an environment that allowed this separation whilst also handling dependencies. QuickCase, with multitenancy at its core, is also an API-driven solution (which QuickCase's own generated UI also uses), allowing for bespoke elements to interact with the model, with the same challenges of access control for security. This allows different stages of development to happen in any order - giving maximum flexibility to the programme to prioritise some user needs over others.
Iterative delivery and early feedback
A good example was producing a new citizen-facing digital application form - QuickCase configured in a few days just to accept and display those new applications so they could be copied and pasted into an old legacy system. The initial configuration-only strategy allowed the business the get the new structure of digital forms in-front of citizens fast, reducing form errors by around 80%.
This approach combined a bespoke citizen app calling QuickCase's case management API for saving a draft and performing the final submission. The case management solution then displayed only those submitted applications to the court admin staff for transfer over to legacy and further processing
This was later enhanced and the legacy system was entirely replaced (see separate case study: Legacy System Replacement).
Within a service (tenant), different types of user coexist:
- citizens, who should only see case(s) they submitted themselves
- solicitors, who should only see cases submitted by themselves or colleagues from their company
- court staff, who should see all cases within the service
This is achieved using QuickCase's 3 access levels, respectively: individual, group and organisation.
Each element of data and each user is assigned one of 3 classifications on a scale from less to most sensitive: Public, Private or Restricted. Users can only access data which has a classification equal or less sensitive than their own.
In the case of the justice platform, this proved crucial to correctly restrict access in some less common scenarios:
- Conflict of interests: in the event of a conflict of interest with a member of staff, classification of a case can be increased to limit visibility to only the most senior staff members
- Prominent cases: cases involving well-known personalities or relating to sensitive news events can also have their visibility limited to senior staff
This digital transformation programme was a significant undertaking and needed a strong, flexible, scalable, secure case management solution at its core. The speed at which QuickCase could configure minimum viable products in weeks, providing early business benefits, and then flexible enough for the next phase of growth with equal speed, made it the most important technology on the programme.
Giving speed to many teams at the same time, each with their own digital transition journey, combined with an overall programme objective of consolidating services, was a real challenge. Ensuring enough common modelling was done to unleash the call centre target business objective, whilst being agile enough to allow services to grow, was the key.
Challenge: Common data model
A fundamental challenge for the programme was the design of a common, cross-tenant data model, which would provide consistency for cross-tenant actors, such as call centres. The right balance between commonality and uniqueness in the data model needed to be achieved to safeguard the services' ability to fulfil their requirements for expert and 2nd line support business users.
QuickCase allowed for this with configuration of common fields and access control which can then be specialised by each service.