Helping the Welsh Revenue Authority become fully digital

A digital maturity assessment is a fantastic way to get to know an organisation, as CDPS discovered in working with WRA

23 February 2022

The Centre for Digital Public Services (CDPS) is working with the Welsh Revenue Authority (WRA) to help it become a “fully digital organisation”. This blog post explains how that work is progressing and introduces some of the new work emerging from the collaboration.

The WRA is responsible for the collection and management of the first two devolved Welsh taxes, Land Transaction Tax and Landfill Disposal Tax. WRA was established in 2017. It’s a relatively new organisation, free from the constraints of old technology and established ways of working. It presents the perfect chance, and a rare opportunity in government, to design and build an organisation on strong digital foundations.

An easier way to talk about change

In the summer of 2021, CDPS was invited to conduct an assessment of WRA’s digital maturity. Both parties intended to use the assessment as a starting point for conversations about where, realistically, the organisation wanted to move towards. Our discussions allowed the WRA to own what “fully digital” meant for them and made the path of the now to the future clearer for everyone.

A digital maturity assessment is a fantastic way to get to know an organisation. CDPS interviewed people from across WRA: from operations, finance and IT, through the people who make the day-to-day happen, to those who are accountable for strategy and policy. It was a huge privilege to meet so many good, committed people and to learn about their work. It always felt like a conversation, rather than an assessment.

Adapting the Harvard maturity model

There are a lot of frameworks out there for assessing digital ‘maturity’. We used the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Maturity Model for Digital Services, which came out of a convening of public sector digital services teams from around the world. The model works well for government organisations because it recognises the political context and the interconnectedness of organisations bringing about change across government. However, we adapted the model to make it more relevant to the Welsh Government context.

Digital Maturity scale
How CDPS and WRA adapted the Harvard digital maturity model for a Welsh Government context

For example, we changed the model’s maturity scale, favouring descriptive labels to make it easier to debate maturity levels over ‘low’, ‘medium’, and ‘high’ ratings. We adopted WRA’s terminology of becoming “fully digital” and made it an almost mythical future state. We further tailored Harvard’s model by adding WRA specific questions to each line. This made the language clearer to everyone and made the maturity level easier to discuss and score.

Image: An example of one of the Harvard model’s themes, with added WRA.
The team added WRA-specific questions to the Harvard model

A digital maturity assessment also allows an organisation to safely assess its own strengths and weaknesses. There’s no right answer – it’s a range, and as the assessor CDPS was not at risk of mistakenly calling someone’s baby ugly if what we uncovered suggested a lower level of digital maturity than expected. Healthy conversations emerge from “We think we’re more at this level than that level.” And when you stand back and look at the whole, there’s something for everyone to cheer about or mull.

What next?

These conversations helped us co-develop a digital maturity roadmap: a high-level view of the steps the WRA could take to build its digital capability. It gives us just enough of a view to know where we are heading and, more importantly, where to start.

Good things have emerged from the roadmap already. The first agile, multidisciplinary team has sprung up working in the open and we’re exploring where the next agile service team might work too. More on this soon.

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