skip to main content

Rapid Application Development using Azure Services

Company name: Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Competition and Markets Authority (CMA)
Industry: Central Government
Location: London 
Size: 4500

Overview

A replacement case management solution for central government state aid processing built on Microsoft technology stack.

Key Benefits

  • Case management solution built on existing client Microsoft Technology.
  • Familiar and intuitive user interface.
  • Flexible and robust solution.
  • Seamless integration with CMA core case management system.
  • Value for money.

The Challenge

European Union member countries must notify the European Commission under certain circumstances during the normal course of government. One of the IT systems provided by the EU to do this becomes unavailable to the UK once Brexit is complete. The replacement system would need to support a process involving multiple government departments, integrate with the CMA Case management system and provide a public facing view of all authorised grants.

The Approach

The outline requirements indicated a complex case management system supported by a public facing website. The case management system would need to handle large complex forms, document attachments, and workflow across UK government. The approach followed an agile methodology that initially developed proof of concepts to identify an appropriate technology followed by development of a minimal viable product (MVP). Once the MVP was validated the full system development commenced which was backed up with GDS reviews.

“The choice of Azure Cosmos proved to be very useful at the early stages for agile development. It removed the need to build a database schema thus producing a significant effort reduction and shortening the overall project timeline.” 

Jonathan Becket, Deltascheme Technical Consultant.

The Solution

The MVP quickly established an appropriate platform for the solution formed from an Azure document database (Cosmos DB), Azure functions and SharePoint Online to act as a portal. The solution presents users with a form built using SharePoint Framework Extensions with Webparts. The technology layer is ASP.Net MVC web application framework.

Users are typically competition lawyers and their skills are supported by appropriate interfaces for the creator, recipient, case site, examination decision authority and granting authority. The workflow must support detail such as supplementary questions and case routing.

A further advantage of using this technology stack was to allow the state aid processing to seamless integrate with the CMA case management system, also built on the same technology.

The public facing is provided by a separate web site hosted on Azure that is synchronised with the published data. This provides a public transparency search function which supports Freedom of Information requests through to notifying award results. together with reporting of the activity of the granting authority.

The Result

As planned, the British Government is now able to continue operating the state aid process as part of a Brexit deal (should this be required). The real story though is just how well and fast the technology approach delivered results. Early in the project it was thought a low code application platform should be used to build the forms, these however turned out to be too slow and restricting, especially given a complex form with context sensitive fields. The bespoke approach allowed rapid creation of very large forms using scripts processing an Excel specification of the form.