Collaborating to modernise a legacy platform

Collaborating to modernise a legacy platform

Scrumconnect is an award-winning consultancy, designing advanced software solutions with human-centric design and data-driven insights. The company is an SME based in Greater London, with an annual turnover of £25 million. It specialises in early delivery, high-performing teams and a culture of collaboration where its teams share knowledge and solve problems in concert with its clients. Scrumconnect has worked on more than 70 government projects and digital services in the last five years alone. Tim Britten, Digital Deliver Director at HMCTS, and Hiren Shah, Delivery Director at Scrumconnect Consulting, explain how Scrumconnect helped HM Courts & Tribunals Service improve its new system, which is designed to handle more than 7,000 court hearings a day and is used by up to 40,000 concurrent users.  

HM Courts & Tribunals Service has been engaged in an ambitious Crime Programme since 2016, designed to transform criminal justice, fulfilling the vision of a just, proportionate, accessible system that places people’s needs and expectations at its heart.

One of the key aims of this programme has been to modernise the ageing legacy systems in use in courts – replacing out of date systems not fit for purpose, cutting down on unnecessary admin and supporting more effective secure sharing of information between justice partners, legal professionals and the judiciary.

This involves building a new system called Common Platform on Azure Cloud, which integrates government agency and police force systems, supports case management and progression, and can also be securely accessed by legal professionals and the judiciary. It’s designed to handle more than 7,000 court hearings a day and is used by up to 40,000 concurrent users.

The platform has faced challenges in terms of stability, delivery and scope and Scrumconnect has worked in collaboration with HMCTS management to come up with a comprehensive plan to address technical debt and create a technical strategy to move to a more stable and sustainable platform which can be supported by in-house technical teams.

Challenges and discoveries
To ease pressure on the business and to ensure continued success, HMCTS has extended the programme to March 2025 and revised expectations of what will be delivered in the time remaining. This will make it possible to get the existing platform and associated processes to perform to their maximum capacity and ability.

Scrumconnect worked collectively with the business to understand in-depth requirements and identify the gap between what had been delivered so far and what’s possible to achieve within the remaining scope of the programme, including all the features that were on the shelf. Scrumconnect created a joint improvement plan with HMCTS stakeholders through workshops with business leads, collaboration with architecture and security teams, consultation with development leads and release managers and research sessions with platform users.

Key opportunities to improve included:

  • Bringing more robustness and stability into the platform by performing mandatory platform updates as it was out of support on critical infrastructure components like Alfresco, Docmosis and Camunda
  • Preparing for increasing numbers and types of users and the resilience needed to accommodate that by addressing critical technical debt in the application
  • Automating deployment mechanisms and system configurations via containerisation
  • Delivering features and fixes quicker and with less impact on users

Strategic actions

Through collaborative workshops, co-creation sessions and collective refinements,
Scrumconnect swiftly created a work backlog and assembled product-based teams to assess the current set-up, implement new technologies and improve on the key areas identified earlier:

  • Improved security by securing all entry and exit points to the application using threat modelling and monitoring
  • Improved resiliency and scaling capabilities and reduced hosting failures and data loss through implementation of a Platform-as-a-Service database
  • Increased levels of automation from 40% to 85% (and growing) and replaced a suite of ageing legacy code
  • Delivered features and fixes quicker through more frequent release cycles and the use of ‘container’ updates
  • Additionally reduced hosting costs by replacing expensive oversized virtual machines with services that automatically scale up/down based on user demand


The digital service has now been rolled out to 100% of criminal courts in England and Wales, is dealing with 3,000 court hearings a day and has processed 1.3 million cases to date.

Challenges ahead

There are still challenges to overcome and improvements to be made. With HMCTS’ rebalanced plans for 2024-25, Common Platform now enters a stage where the scope of the programme is largely finished and the organisation’s main objectives are to improve the platform, so it works better for users across the Criminal Justice System.

Working with HMCTS, Scrum continues to embed product-based teams and are delivering an objective and key results (OKR) framework which aims to bring more accountability to the teams in terms of delivering platform stability and quality of service for users. It will also focus its teams on meeting user needs more effectively in future.

The next stage of Scrum’s technical strategy and next 12-month plan aims to tackle the remaining technical debt to ensure stability and bring down the cost of change. HMCTS and Scrum have DORA metrics as part of the OKR framework and will be continuously targeting smaller, more regular releases to bring down the cost of change and improve the ability to react to user needs.


Key learnings included:

  • Build small and test before committing further resources. This iterative model of delivery – an Agile model – has resulted in continuous improvements to the service
  • Constantly communicate and reaffirm the vision and user priorities. The programme leadership and business/product owners ensure all technical teams on the programme really understand the business and user needs. Some innovations have been individually small but collectively added up to real improvement
  • Cultural alignment and collaboration are the most important success factors. We’ve collectively created a development/delivery culture that embraces change. This has been at the heart of Scrumconnect’s working relationship with HMCTS’ Crime Programme and technical teams.
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