As well as the usual CIO need to respond to a changing tech landscape and transition from ageing IT systems, John Quinn, Director of Transformation and CIO for the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, had an extra Brexit-induced requirement in 2018: to replace key systems and processes in the organisation.

In a highly integrated and complex environment, with 11 European systems and processes needing replacement in the event of a no-deal Brexit, Quinn and his team have reused and repurposed some legacy technologies, and implemented solutions on new digital platforms where there are gaps. They are now in the happy position of having replacement services available for stakeholders in time for whenever day one happens.

Quinn's department has also begun to move services out of a large legacy estate to cloud-based low-code platforms by setting up a devops capability in Azure. Document management functionality gives operators access to more information. Real-time integration with the cloud finance system enables the instantaneous creation of invoices and greater visibility of payment status. Bringing legacy data within the new application has simplified deployment and enabled earlier benefits. Automated code deployment will allow consistency of access across the environment landscape.

His digital workplace programme has involved an Office 365 implementation and equipment upgrades, and webinar technology is being implemented. These solutions have reduced costs significantly, improved how the tech function engages with its customers, and how access to events is provided for remote workers.

In 2018, under Quinn the MHRA IT function completed the rollout of cloud-based robotic process automation. The early signs are positive: in just five months, robots have processed 17,000 pieces of work, saving a total of 187 working days since implementation.

By commissioning a redesign of the service model, insourcing higher value activity and recontracting, and providing a single service across sites, he has made savings in excess of £450,000 a year. The identification of an improved data centre hosting strategy will save another £550,000 a year.

When Quinn was appointed Transformation Director in 2018, his first step was to align the changes against the IT service model rather than the organisation structure. The approach is paying off, fostering a culture of collaboration and a shift towards business-driven change. The tech function has now recognised that in designing services around customers and staff, it is best delivered in a holistic way, where digital and tech change, project delivery, business process and cultural change are all mapped together.