About Social Security Scotland (SSS) 

Social Security Scotland (SSS) is an executive agency of the Scottish Government with responsibility for social security provision. It was formed following the Smith Commission which led the Scottish Government to embark upon the largest and most ambitious programme since devolution by taking ownership for the payments of low-income and disability welfare benefits.

The overall programme was originally estimated to cost a total of £180m following the decision to separate out the assessment and payment of these benefits from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) through the creation of Social Security Scotland in 2018. Once fully operational, Social Security Scotland will administer a total of 17 benefits supporting 1.8 million people, equivalent to approximately £3.5 billion in payments every year.

The Challenges  

Separating welfare benefits from the DWP was an incredibly complex task that demanded a multi-layered business and technical infrastructure to be put in place. This involved a significant number of suppliers and technical solutions with the added issue of working to incredibly challenging timescales, in a timeframe that had never been done before.

The programme needed an enterprise-wide test strategy and the development of a shared-services testing organisation. Enterprise-scale tooling was also required to enable defect and test management that could provide sufficient reporting information to support the ongoing decision-making and governance activities for all releases. Additionally, optimum test automation was demanded to support the ongoing delivery of benefits within the required timescales.

The 2i Solution

The first task was to establish a programme-wide Enterprise Test Strategy to ensure that risk was effectively managed regardless of the delivery methodology used.

The Strategy needed to be signed off by all parties involved in the delivery of the benefits. It also needed to cover every aspect of test and quality assurance including processes, tooling, supplier integration and wider integration with external bodies such as DWP, HMRC and BACS. Having gained consensus and sign off on how to protect the inherent delivery risks, 2i set about building the team to deliver against the Strategy. 

Figure 1: We are the "glue" at the centre of all stakeholders.

"This is a huge achievement for all the Appointment Booking and Consultations teams, including Model Office, Accessibility and Programme Test Team (led by 2i) where they have all demonstrated true collaboration across multiple countries in a difficult economic situation."

Award Judges
European Software Testing Awards (supplied by Deloitte)

An important success factor for the team was the selection of appropriate automation and tooling. 2i worked in partnership with the programme’s suppliers to identify, assess and deploy an agile test management solution. Following careful evaluation of the programme’s needs, the Tricentis qTest tool integrated with Jira from the Atlassian tool suite was chosen to enable effective defect management and traceability of all releases.

Throughout the Programme, 2i has demonstrated its ability to quickly respond to increasing demands by scaling our team to more than 55 QA and testing professionals. This was also the case when 2i was required to act quickly and decisively to implement the suggested process improvements recommended by Sogeti following their independent health check of the 2i testing service, which was rated as best in class.

"2i have worked collaboratively with IBM… ensuring the successful launch of a number of new benefits… the positive and proactive working approach have seen improvement in the testing landscape with each benefit launched. 2i have been working closely with us to bring the release testing cycles earlier into the delivery lifecycle and reduce downstream risk."

Matt Pickersgill
Partner, iX Lead for Public Sector

The Outcome and Benefits 

  • As of March 2022, 12 Social Security benefits have been successfully introduced. 2i joined the programme in January 2018, with every benefit being delivered on time and to the intended scope.   
  • Around 700,000 people are expected to be supported by payments from Social Security Scotland by the end of this financial year. There are 6 further benefits planned to be delivered.
  • 2i remains at the very centre of the programme, supporting the efficient delivery of the Social Security Scotland programme, with a clearly understood risk posture that is used to advise senior ministers on a regular basis.  

Figure 2: Timeline and key milestones of enterprise-wide test strategy

Author: 2i Testing