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End of an Era

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Digital services, Guest blog, Service Designing
Ian Hall and the EDI team standing in front of a large screen showing technological changes over the last 18 years
Some of the EDI team
From left: Tina Thompson, Ian Hall, David Sutcliffe, Di Kirkham, Erica Varley, Wendy Dean, Patrick Brannan

A significant event happened on 19 April this year that will have passed most people by. It wasn’t a royal wedding (and best wishes to the happy couple), finding alien life or the release of a new superhero film but the switching off of the Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) channel which sends HMRC PAYE Real Time Information. Right now I can imagine people scratching their heads and asking what on earth is EDI?

Electronic Data Interchange

Let me explain.

EDI, along with the internet, was an electronic channel through which large volumes of payroll data could be sent and has been the mainstay of HMRC transactions for approaching 20 years. But time doesn’t stand still in the digital world and the costs of maintaining the system and the multi-channel option couldn’t last forever. It needed to be replaced.

The Beginning of the End

In 2015 it was decided that HMRC would decommission EDI in April 2018. Immediately the EDI Customer Relationship Management (CRM) team, based in Shipley, began looking at what that meant. A moment of shock hit when we realised it was going to affect more than 800 customers (or Trading Partners), the majority of whom were the largest employers and pension providers in the UK and beyond.  Between them, they administer 21,000 PAYE schemes representing more than 22.5 million employees and annuitants (a person entitled to receive benefits or payments from an annuity).

In a perfect world the internet transition would be as simple as flicking a switch but, for large employers where systems are closely integrated, the decommissioning represented a real challenge to implement. All 800 of them needed to switch to doing business with HMRC over the internet in a limited timeframe. Extending the deadline was not an option.

The End of the Beginning

So what did we do?

Once the terms of reference were agreed the project began in earnest. Our CRM team reviewed every customer against a series of parameters to create a risk-based scoring system used to inform our contact strategy early in 2017, with those more in need being contacted first.

We worked closely with our customers to find common themes and issues, which we shared with other customers in our efforts to smooth the transition process. Members of the team conducted more than 100 visits to customers’ premises to talk through unique and detailed requirements including software compatibility, security concerns and practical steps like setting up as an agent. We kept our customers up to speed with regular communications and the team dealt with thousands of emails and telephone calls over the course of 2017 and early 2018.

End Game

Ultimately the biggest challenge to the successful delivery of the decommissioning project was the delivery of internet-enabled software updates to existing payroll software products. Three quarters of our customers used one of a handful of software providers. Naturally, those providers had their own release cycles and they had both scheduled delivery of their internet-enabled software only months before the April deadline. This didn’t leave our customers with as much time as we’d have liked to test their internet solution but I applaud each and every one of them for their efforts and good humour, even when we were very busy working through challenges to keep the implementation on track.

The End

As lead of the CRM team, I’ve never seen a more passionate group of people working so hard than in the last few months EDI was operational. There was laughter, even when the going occasionally felt tough, and the dedication and commitment carried the team over the line and we transitioned all of our customers to the internet and switched off our EDI service on the 19 April 2018. The 812 customers with 21,000 PAYE schemes reporting on 22.5 million people are now in the brave new internet world.

EDI was an unsung hero for HMRC having been in operation for nearly 20 years, supporting millions of transactions and setting a standard by which other services were subsequently measured. Although most staff, and much of the employer community, have never heard of EDI there will always be a small team from Shipley who will remember its final days and weeks with pride.

Ian Hall, Senior Customer Relationship Manager

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  1. Comment by Leroy McAdjar posted on

    The guidance and advice David offered us during this transition was second the none! We had fortnightly conversations to ensure we were still on plan and even invited us to HMRCs offices to sit and discuss any concerns we had with the developers. David aided in making the transition of EDI to XML as smooth as possible.

  2. Comment by Neal Griffiths posted on

    I can also sing the praises of your team, pity other areas of HMRC do not follow the model of work ethic they apply.
    Always helpful, patient even when I am sure I was asking a daft question.
    Prompt with a response and easily contactable, our transition has been smooth and so far so good. I am confident this has in part been due to the solid advice and guidance provided.

    Many thanks, keep up the great work as we enter this new era

  3. Comment by Joanne Dean posted on

    David and the Team have been so helpful for all of our EDI Years. They were amazing with helping us through the transition from EDI to FBI. Thank you for all your assistance.

  4. Comment by Ian Hall posted on

    Hi Paul
    Thank you for your positive feedback and I'll make sure David sees it.
    I know the team would like to hear your ideas as we're continually looking to improve the documentation to better meet user needs. Do you think you'd be able to drop them a line at and they'll get back in touch with you direct?
    Thanks again

  5. Comment by Debs Bellamy posted on

    I must thank the team for all the hard work and support during the transition from EDI to Internet. The transition of Moorepay clients over to Internet, has been exceptionally smooth, with very few issues.

    This is down to the hard work and dedication of the whole team, thank you.

  6. Comment by Paul White posted on

    Thanks all for your support (David in particular) during this challenging transition.

    I will go against some of the comments here and say I don't miss EDI. The internet xml files are far more readable and ability to send test files via test transaction service is, in our case, far simpler.

    One thing EDI had over internet though is the MIG documentation. The MIGs were far easier to understand than the internet RTI RIMs. Any chance the RIMs could be reviewed to also produce a more functionally user friendly summary of changes, allowed formats, mandatory/optional fields etc?


  7. Comment by Gary Smith posted on

    I'll start by pinching a comment from someone above - I do miss EDI, it was so simple and easy to use but all good things etc etc....

    From reading all comments before me it sounds like the whole team have done a fantastic job for all 812 customers you have all respectively dealt with, so well done all. But I want to personally thank the 2 individuals who helped us through the transition to Internet, namely David S and in particular Tina T who must have dreaded switching her pc on every day to see my almost daily e-mails !!!

    But you always answered queries, both promptly and always with a smile. And it was good to meet you both when you came to see us.

    I wish you all good things wherever you move on from here going forward.

    And keep in touch.

  8. Comment by Cerys Webber posted on

    Thank you David, Ian and Valerie and to all the team for helping us through the transition. You showed great patience and humour along the way and we were able to work through the many challenges successfully because we did it together with your help. Congratulations to you all.

  9. Comment by Rich Archer posted on

    RIP EDI, great job by Ian Hall & the team

  10. Comment by Neil Jones posted on

    I echo the comments of my fellow users of EDI and now FBI. It was certainly no easy feet for you or the customer base to migrate to a new solution but it worked very effectively and we had very few issues and good advice from HMRC team. Thanks.

  11. Comment by Anna posted on

    I would echo the other comments posted - the team really were very helpful and supportive with any questions asked to help us through the transition. Responses were timely and it is definitely my best experience of any HMRC team. Thank you!

  12. Comment by Rosemary posted on

    Thank you all for all your help over the years, both with EDI over the years and with the transition to internet this year.

  13. Comment by Ian Hall posted on

    Thank you to everyone who's taken the time to send us a positive comment. We really do appreciate it and I'll make sure the rest of team take a look.

  14. Comment by Ivan Colton posted on

    Excellent service and assistance by the EDI team throughout the transition. Many Thanks

  15. Comment by Henry Winsor posted on

    Thank you for helping us through this; you did a very professional job, and were very responsive to our questions.

  16. Comment by Manjeet Heer posted on

    Only an end user but the transition appeared to be seamless. Well done to all involved :o)

  17. Comment by Ewen McRae posted on

    From start to finish we received outstanding support from HMRC CRM team . Calls were supported at short notice and expert guidance and support provided to keep our transition from EDI to XML on track. Great job.

  18. Comment by Helen Johnson posted on

    Your team were amazing and were holding our hand through all our troubles.
    It was so reassuring to have a human on the end of the phone.

    I do miss EDI, it was so simple and easy to use but all good things etc etc....

    David and Ian, you are the best.

  19. Comment by Louise Tarpy posted on

    One of the most professional deliveries of a project I've seen and they did it all with a smile on their faces - huge congratulations to all

  20. Comment by Lee posted on

    So very proud of the team. The team has received and continues to receive amazing feedback from customers - "outstanding customer service" is a common one! Great work by every single team member, an amazing achievement, done in an amazing way, by an amazing team 🙂

  21. Comment by Colin Broad posted on

    Ian et al

    Your help and the dedication of the team was certainly much appreciated by all of us here at ADP during the shift of all our clients from EDI to Internet.

    Many thanks to all