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Underpinning successful pilot of new public sector digital service

MDS Technologies merged with Bristol IT Company to become Assured Digital Technologies in April 2020.

Digitising staff rotas

As part of a Central Government department’s programme to digitise large parts of its operations, it set out to build an electronic staff rota system. Its aim was to streamline the creation of rotas, improve their management, enable staff to update and maintain their availability online and view their schedules in real time.

By replacing a number of manual processes and legacy IT systems, the new service would contribute to the department’s overall savings target of several hundred million pounds.

The first phase of the project was a regional pilot scheme. To enable this, the Government department contracted MDS Technologies to provide the platform on which it could build, test and operate the system, using a flexible cloud infrastructure, supported by a 24-hour managed service for the critical user-facing functionality.

Using the assured public-sector-only UKCloud’s cloud, MDS designed and built environments for development, test, pre-production and production. At its peak, the pilot required around 100 virtual machines, of which 40 were fully managed.

By working with MDS for the pilot, the Government department benefited from:

  • A single contract covering the cloud infrastructure and managed service
  • MDS’s unrivalled knowledge of the UKCloud assured cloud and the company’s security expertise
  • 24-hour capacity and availability monitoring, to ensure the platform was always running and able to meet demand
  • Operating system patching, to maintain optimal security and performance
  • Anti-virus, to protect the platform and data from malicious software
  • Incident and Problem management, to address any issues quickly


The regional pilot went live successfully, and in its first few months, it saw more than three-quarters of the potential user base log in to try it. Feedback was excellent, with many commenting on the platform’s ease of use.

Pilot schemes can make or break this type of IT project, so it was essential that the platforms underpinning the system performed flawlessly, including under several rounds of load testing. These solid foundations enabled the project sponsors to trial the new system extensively and gather valuable feedback from its users.

The pilot was a resounding success and, as a result, the environments MDS designed to support the system was taken forward as the blueprint for the full national rollout.