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Digital Self-Assessment – Alpha Assessment

Digital Self Assessment will replace the letters HMRC sends to self assessment customers with email alerts asking them to log in to the new tax account and see the same calls to action in a simpler, clearer way online.

Department / Agency:

Date of Assessment:
24 January 2014

Moving to:
Private Beta


Lead Assessor:
P. Buckley

Service Manager:
T. Smith

Digital Leader:
M. Dearnley

Assessment report

The Digital Self Assessment team were looking to move their service to private beta.

Outcome of service assessment

After reviewing the service GDS are pleased to say that the assessment team concluded the service has shown sufficient progress and evidence of meeting the pre-April 2014 criteria and should proceed to Private Beta (with one important condition - see below).

Of the 17 pre-April 2014 criteria, GDS agreed that the Digital Self-Assessment team were passing 13 of them and had made progress on the remaining 4. GDS also felt that the team were aware of the areas which require further development and have plans for them.


1. The development team have clearly made a good service which has been heavily tested and will potentially improve the lives of people needing to self-assess.

2. The assessors were impressed by the team's ability to deliver improvements to the service, both in the skills of the team and in the delegated power they had within a complex technical environment.


At the time of the assessment the security checks were not complete, and as discussed, the site cannot go live until these are complete and any recommendations implemented. GDS require written confirmation that these have been completed before moving to private beta.

Other Recommendations

  • There is a large upcoming risk as the service is moved to Newcastle. Continuing the good work started by the current team will be crucial and GDS wish the team luck with the transition.

  • All the assessors believed that there will come a time when the management of the offline service will need to be combined with that of the online service, in order to have a holistic plan for business transformation. GDS understand that there is a long way to go here but ask the team to keep GDS informed of this as they move to public beta and live.

On content, there are also a couple of small points about the wording:

  • There were still a few 'Go Paperless' headings in the emails sent out and on the email verification page which seems a slight over-sell as GDS understood that there will still be some paper sent out.

  • The opt out page (/account/account-details/sa/opt-out-email-reminders) could perhaps do more of a sell to stay on the service, e.g. by explaining what is to be gained by email and by making the go back button more enticing than the opt out button.

Next Steps

This service has been given approval to launch as a Private Beta service as and when the security tests have been made and any recommendations implemented.


In summary, the assessors were impressed with the work done so far and were pleased with how well it is matching the standard. GDS share the team’s optimism that it will improve the lives of self-assessors and also save taxpayers money.