Digital in Dorset
Over the past few months, myself and Ann-Marie Barlow, from Dorset Councils Partnership, have been working together to devise and apply a Digital Maturity Assessment technique. Whilst this technique can be used within individual organisations, we have also used this technique to help develop a shared understanding of digital and to develop some ideas about our digital future in Dorset.
In this blog, I, working with Richard Pascoe describe the benefits of taking this approach within Dorset County Council and Ann-Marie Barlow describes the benefits of using the technique within Dorset Councils Partnership, a Partnership serving West Dorset District Council, North Dorset District Council and Weymouth and Portland Borough Council.
Like many others, our approach to digital in Dorset is less about technology and more about what we do with it to make a difference in people’s lives.
We’ve thought about how public service might be re-imagined in the Digital Age but we haven’t attempted to set out a specific design or implementation plan – so much will change and new opportunities will present themselves in the coming years.
Instead we’ve described a journey, an approach to become a digital council in a digital place.
We are changing how we work and adopting a design-led approach, so that we put people and their needs at the centre, and positioning ourselves so that we can use the exciting opportunities that digital technology provides.
To help illustrate the stages of our journey towards becoming a digital council we developed a maturity curve. The curve is intended to help people understand the journey we will go on and the stages are described from the perspectives of an employee, customer or partner, this alone can be used by senior leaders to reflect on where we might be on our journey.
The reality is the journey will not be linear, we already have activity taking place across many stages of the curve, with those towards the top of the curve acting as champions for change. Developing local digital case studies are an important aspect of this.
The curve is underpinned by a self-assessment tool, which is designed as a practical tool allowing us to understand our digital maturity across the organisation, as individuals, teams, and services. We developed the questions and scoring approach with Dorset Councils Partnership and are using the tool to baseline and monitor digital progress across the two organisations.
People can elect to fill in the self-assessment themselves to consider their own digital maturity in the workplace, but we find the real value is using our ICT Business Partners to facilitate sessions with teams where you can inject digital thinking, have a good discussion and deliver some quick wins.
Whilst it’s early days but we’re generating excitement and ideas as illustrated by this feedback:
‘We consider ourselves a relatively digital focused team, but going through the questionnaire did help us reflect on how we can do even better. It generated lots of interesting discussion, and highlighted areas of our team that haven’t embraced digital technology as well as others. We’ll certainly be making some improvements as a result.’
Working together to help build on the digital maturity curve has been really motivating, we didn’t just seek to develop a shared survey that worked for our own individual organisations, we took time to think through how we could future proof the process so that it could be applied to other organisations.
Within Dorset Councils Partnership, we chose to launch an all staff digital survey, we received an excellent response rate and from the feedback received, we have been able to use this to help inform future digital work.
At the time, we were also developing a Digital Strategy, thinking about our digital maturity and future ambitions helped to guide our future priorities. It also helped to provide clarity to our people as to what we mean by ‘Digital’ – that it’s not all about tech!
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