28 October 2019

Back in June 2017, we launched FutureGov’s Digital Maturity Assessment. Since then we’ve used this approach with organisations including Homes England, MHCLG, Bradford, Bath & North East Somerset and Doncaster Councils. We also used this model as the approach to the consultation workshops and research that led to the design and launch of the London Office for Technology and Innovation (LoTI).

When we first shared the framework, we explained this as:

…a way of supporting a series of conversations with service users, front-line staff and leadership relating to skills, ways of working, capability and governance. As a result, you’ll be able to visualise how digitally mature each part of your organisation is and how ready it is for change.

The more we’ve used maturity assessments with different organisations, the more value we’ve seen in the approach. They can work effectively as both a research tool at the beginning of organisational design work and as part of a process to identify business, service areas and opportunities, prioritised along with a clear future vision, roadmap and plan for delivering change.

Where do you want to be, and why?

This is the latest version of our Digital Maturity Assessment. This is an iteration of the original framework, taking on board everything we’ve learned so far and recognising the types of challenges that our clients across government and health face.

The latest version of FutureGov’s Digital Maturity Assessment

Starting with ‘discrete’ change, the scale moves up through five separate steps towards what can be described as more ‘systemic’ change. Each step is a clear description of how an organisation might work as part of different stages of ‘maturity’.

  1. Paper-based Practice & Analog Processes
    Our working practices are mostly paper-based or supported by analogue processes.
  2. Paper online & legacy technology
    We publish information and some services are available online. Internal processes and services mostly rely on legacy or enterprise technologies.
  3. Digital for service improvement
    Digital tools and design-led processes are being used to improve existing services, practices and ways of working. We haven’t fundamentally changed how user needs are being met.
  4. Digital for service transformation
    Digital tools and design-led processes are being used to deliver simple, transparent, joined-up end to end services. We are fundamentally changing how services are designed to meet user needs and deliver improved outcomes.
  5. Organisation & system-level change
    Our organisation has fundamentally changed how it works and operates (e.g. in a place/system). We are shaping our culture, practices, processes and business models to respond to people’s changing needs and expectations.

Originally designed to map where an organisation is on its ‘digital’ journey, we’ve increasingly used this model to understand the level of ambition an organisation has for changing how it works and what it does.

Mapping where an organisation sits on the scale is really about understanding how capable it is of designing and delivering 21st-century public services, as well as understanding if there’s the ambition to make significant changes to how things will need to work in the future. This includes the need for new types of business or operational models, ways of working and service models that use internet-era technologies, all in order to meet people’s changing needs and expectations.

What we’ve learned and what has changed

In the most recent versions of the framework, we’ve put more emphasis on organisation design.

We focus on how digital maturity looks and feels at different stages and how this is experienced by end-users accessing frontline services.

Individual user journeys can have many touchpoints with different organisations, who have to work together if services are going to deliver the best possible experiences and outcomes. With this in mind, we’ve placed more emphasis on how organisations need to work together in new ways as part of the system.

Delivering ‘systemic’ change is ultimately dependent on how organisations influence and work together with other organisations, providers and as part of local areas. For example, local government and social care working with Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).

We’re increasingly having conversations about how organisations support and bolster digital in a city or the place that they’re part of. Often supported by an ambitious place-based vision and work developed or owned by the local council along with other partners.

When facing 21st-century challenges, organisations have to be able to fundamentally change how they work and operate. Over the last two years, this means we’ve worked with many organisations exploring more radical ways to improve outcomes as part of established systems like housing and social care. We’ve learned through experience that this is necessary to realise and deliver more significant savings and exponential improvements in people’s lives.

Reflecting on this, we’ve revisited the description for step five in the scale when we talk about and describe ‘systemic’ change. Importantly, digital is not only updated technology and modern tools. It has to be fully embedded in the culture, practices, processes and business models that are truly 21st century.

Different lenses for change

Depending on the circumstances and the organisation, we’ve sometimes found it more useful to talk about this more broadly as a ‘maturity model’ rather than something explicitly about ‘digital’.

Despite being clear about digital meaning more than technology, this can sometimes be confusing or a distraction to organisations and teams that need to focus more of the type of cultures, business models and future ways of working that will potentially transform their organisation and service models.

We want to ensure that future conversations about creating 21st-century organisations and public services are about more than technology. This means going beyond the traditional scope and constraints of many of the ‘digital transformation’ programmes we’ve seen that focus more on technology and implementation.

Digital remains at the heart of our maturity framework and the approaches we use. Most importantly, this is about asking a bigger set of questions about the type of organisation you need to be in the future and what you need to do to get there. It also continues to put services and delivery at its core (steps 3–5 were always focused on how services are being improved and then transformed by changes to how organisations work).

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