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Trusted Helper - Beta Assessment

The Trusted Helper service allows users to delegate authority to a friend or family member to act on their behalf for digital tax services.

Department / Agency:
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC)

Date of Assessment:
1 October 2014

Assessment stage:

Result of Assessment:

Lead Assessor:
R. Grove

Service Manager:
S. Fhima

Digital Leader:
M. Dearnley

Assessment Report

The HMRC Trusted Helper service is seeking permission to launch on a domain as a Beta service.

Outcome of service assessment

After consideration we have concluded the Trusted Helper service has shown sufficient progress and evidence of meeting the Digital by Default Service Standard criteria and should proceed to launch as a Beta service on a domain.


The service sufficiently demonstrated adherence to the Digital by Default Service Standard.  Key areas of success are:

  • the rationale for choosing the product and roadmap were clearly articulated by the Service Manager with a user focus, for example enabling reduction in future call volumes for other digital services
  • the Service Manager had an excellent understanding of the service and HMRC, which allowed him to make significant decisions in a timely manner, for example challenging the need for signatures which are prominent on the existing paper form, yet have little functional use
  • the team were highly proficient in their use of agile and demonstrated the ability to implement the right technique at the right time, for example two word retrospectives
  • design iteration was evident throughout which had benefited the user experience, for example decisions to completely remove terms & conditions
  • a dedication to capability building, especially in technical skills, for example cross training Java developers to use Scala
  • use of a variety of user research techniques, for example guerrilla testing, lab testing, 3rd party research
  • involving the entire team in user research sessions, showing testing as a ‘team sport’, for example the technical team had observed live research sessions
  • allowing development to happen in unrestricted environments which allow maximum productivity for the development team, with a view to deploying in more secure environments. We would encourage HMRC to blog about this approach (either on their own or as a guest post on the GDS technology  or architecture blogs). It is a good story demonstrating a sensible approach to risk management which could help across government.
  • the team demonstrated a good understanding of their assisted digital user demographics and needs based on service-specific qualitative research and broader HMRC studies. The service is an enabler for other HMRC services and the team have been proactively working with GDS to define how assisted digital support and digital take-up should be handled in this case. The service is joined up with HMRC’s approach to assisted digital support which will give consistency for the user and the team are planning a pilot alongside an HMRC service to test this support.


There are still some areas which the service should focus on throughout the beta phase and must be addressed before coming for a live assessment.

  • Publishing source code must be in place for the live assessment.
    See Sharing Software in the Service Manual.
  • The team should continue to refine the process for how the service is operated, ensuring that the process between the delivery team and web ops is rapid and enables continuous deployment. See The Team in the Service Manual.
  • Feedback forms are critical to the beta process; the feedback paths should be user tested to ensure the feedback is relevant to the concern which the users has.
  • Control and design of the feedback forms were outside of the team.  This should be moved to give the team full access to customer feedback which will inform future changes. See Survey Design in the Service Manual.
  • There was no Information Asset Owner, to own the data that a relationship between helper and people being helped, this should be reviewed and ownership assigned.
  • The current analytics package is using the free license, which means data sampling will not be truly representative of usage.  This should be an upgraded to eliminate sampling issues to aid data driven decision making. See Analytics Tools in the Service Manual.
  • While the service is simple and intuitive, it is important the service conducts user research into users understanding of the importance of the change being made, rather than just how easy the form is to complete.
  • GDS strongly recommend that the team prioritise notifications to users who have requested or accepted authority by using the service - this will help completion rates and users understanding of the importance of their decision.
  • Progressive Enhancement is critical, as the service should work for everyone.  Testing should be re-run to ensure this is the case, and change the build where it is not.

Digital by Default Service Standard criteria

Criteria Passed Criteria Passed
1 Yes 2 Yes
3 Yes 4 Yes
5 Yes 6 Yes
7 Yes 8 Yes
9 Yes 10 Yes
11 Yes 12 Yes
13 Yes 14 Yes
15 Yes 16 Yes
17 Yes 18 Yes
19 Yes 20 Yes
21 Yes 22 Yes
23 Yes 24 Yes
25 Yes 26 Yes