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Winner of UKIT Excellence Award

Home Office: Incremental product strategy and Agile governance

IndigoBlue managed the delivery of a transformational project working with The Home Office and the Amberhill team in the Metropolitan Police, resulting in the value of prevented fraud more than doubling soon after launch and invaluable learnings to feed into the Government's IT strategy.


The Home Office is the lead UK government department for immigration and passports, drugs policy, crime, fire, counter-terrorism and police.

National Fraudulent Identity Document Database: The challenge

  • Changing requirements: Prior to this programme, existing tools and processes for recognising ID fraud and distributing preventative information were no longer considered fit for purpose; new methods were necessary to keep pace with fraud policy, data and techniques.
  • Complex stakeholder environment: Multiple stakeholders were involved including: the Home Office; the Metropolitan Police; the Department for Work and Pensions; the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB); and the Institute for Government.
  • Capability building: The stakeholders had little experience of Agile. Familiarisation and specific training was required for key individuals who required knowledge of specific techniques.
  • Legacy technology and systems: Client had large outsourced technology platforms, rigid standards and existing service providers.

Our approach

IndigoBlue introduced an incremental approach to the product strategy and the Agile approach to implementation. This enabled Amberhill to mobilise the project and achieve a significant return from a small initial investment. Importantly, the first incremental releases demonstrated the potential of the wider solution and provided an ROI model that freed further funding.

The Agile approach taken was Scrum-based, with two-week sprints, underpinned by XP engineering and testing practices. However, significant focus was also given to project initiation to ensure the conception of an appropriate incremental strategy, which was communicated clearly to all stakeholders. The incremental strategy also supported the evolution of the business model.

The strategy became a key part of the project governance, enabling stakeholders to engage through regular reviews and measure progress towards clear objectives. Furthermore, it enabled the programme to align with standard governance requirements without constraining the Agility of the team.

IndigoBlue managed all aspects of the programme and provided the analysis and development resources. This included management of the extended project team (including external stakeholders), coaching to all project stakeholders in the Agile approach, definition of the business justification, and ownership of the achievement of the ROI.

The outcomes

The Institute for Government demonstrated their approval by referencing it widely in their ‘System Error’ report, published in March 2011. One customer team member said: “In 25 years of service I have never known a project to develop at such a startling rate yet all decisions have been made in a calm and considered manner.”

The ability of the first release of the system to process 2.3 times the previous volume of potentially fraudulent documents means that the initial project investment has enabled the value of prevented fraud to more than double from £2.3m to £4.9m since the system’s introduction in February 2011.

These figures are only the confirmed preventions and are considered to be significantly lower than the actual benefits which will be recognised by Government Agencies e.g. 426 fraudulent housing benefit claims were matched worth an average of £400 per week; equating to a £10m prevention saving (£400 x 52 weeks x 426 cases per year).

The outstanding ROI of the Amberhill project has been recognised by its use as crucial input to the Government’s new coherent IT strategy for preventing economic crime in the UK. Importantly, this ROI enabled funding to be released for Phase 2 of the project, which is now live. The Cabinet Office has inspected these results, and as a consequence further increments of the system are anticipating significant savings over the next five years.

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