SG Payments – Moving from Alpha to Beta
Blog by Carron Macnab, Delivery Manager, Product and Commercial Division.
As a key commitment in the Digital Strategy for Scotland, the SG Payments Service will incrementally replace existing disparate and disconnected platforms that we currently use for paying out pensions, benefits and grants.
We’ve previously blogged about our successful Alpha and proof of concept phases, where a prototype payment platform was built to demonstrate outbound and inbound payments. We’re now at the exciting stage of starting our Beta, following the award of the Payments Project Beta contract to Scott Logic, which commenced on 8 October 2020 and will run for two years. In this blog post, we’ll look at what we aim to deliver as part of Beta and how we’re working collaboratively with our partners to kick off this phase.
Moving from Alpha to Beta
Over the last few months, the Payments project team have focused on ensuring that we are set up for success in Beta. This has included scaling up our internal team as well as onboarding Scott Logic, our delivery partner. The team will grow further as we move through the Beta phase and prepare for live operations. As we’re all working remotely due to Covid-19, we’ve had to think creatively about how we build a strong and collaborative team, given that Scottish Government and supplier staff cannot meet face to face.
As part of initiating the Beta phase, we’ve also considered our ways of working and development approaches to ensure these help us meet the goal of building an operational Payments Service that can process live payments. This means putting in place the foundations of a robust, secure, reliable platform that can scale to meet future demands.
The technology selection strategy for Beta aligns with the Digital First Service Standard, and highlights a number of principles the team will follow, including:
- security: in every element of technology choice and throughout the supply chain, we involve the National Cyber Security Centre and other stakeholders to review and ensure security requirements are met
- open source: we use a combination of proven open source technologies, cloud services and bespoke development based on much of the same technologies that were used to successfully deliver our Alpha
Beta will focus on outbound payments (from government to citizens and businesses), initially with three organisational partners: Social Security Scotland, Scottish Public Pensions Agency and Independent Living Fund Scotland. These three organisations have all worked with us throughout the project to date.
The scope of Beta has been, and will continue to be, driven by the needs of our users. We have prioritised the functionality that will bring them the most value – making outbound payments. Within the Beta phase, a proportion of payments for each of our three partner organisations will be paid through the new SG Payments Service, as we start to replace their existing payment systems. This small scale start will offer the opportunity to build confidence and minimise risk before further expansion to larger volumes and other organisations.
We will continue to engage with users throughout the Beta to shape the design of the SG Payments Service.
Working with three organisations during beta allows us to explore a number of different use cases, user journeys and operating models. This helps us make sure that the service we design can be used across different public sector organisations once it’s ready to be adopted across the wider public sector post-beta.
With this in mind, we’re designing the SG Payments Service to offer more flexibility and control than existing systems. We’re also looking at ways to offer opportunities to improve and transform payment processes, reducing manual effort in areas such as returned payments.
Get in touch
If you would like to find out more about our project please contact us.