We presented our business transformation programme business case to Cabinet in November 2015. The aim was to get approval to start the first stages of our transformation.
Our work on setting the foundations for the business case started much earlier, in 2011. We presented our first programme business case in 2013 and a further addendum in 2014. It took several years to be clear about what we wanted to achieve and to understand what would be needed.
We focused on outcomes, opportunities and how to best use the wider eco-system such as policy, process, technology, and people.
We built the 2015 business case using the following foundations.
Clear and simple strategy
Transformation provided the opportunity to review how the revenue system is administered. The intent was to deliver a modern, digital revenue system:
- based around customers’ needs
- that is easy to understand and interact with
- that is based on near real-time information
- that is digital and highly automated
- where systems and software do most of the work
- that is more responsive, flexible, and certain for customers
- that is future-proofed to accommodate change
- that allows for services to be delivered with others both inside and outside government.
Investment required to transform
The investment needed to transform the organisation has to cover everything that you will encounter. As an example, here are some of the higher-level categories that required investment.
- Business process change.
- Change management.
- Co-existence, working with both the old and new systems and processes together.
- Organisational change, including structure, roles, operating models and if required, redundancies.
- Policy and legislation change.
- Core technology solution.
- Digital and customer experience solutions.
- Supporting technologies (what it will take to join solutions together including networks and security and data centres).
- Information management.
- Supporting systems that may be needed, such as back-office systems, finance and so forth.
On ramps and off ramps
When we submitted our business case there was a lot of concern that if the programme went off the rails, then there had to be a way to stop and exit the programme. This is why we use the term on/off ramps. In reality, a multi-year programme has no option to stop or exit. Once you start leaving it incomplete, it creates all sorts of other problems and generally increases your cost of co-existence.
Multi-year appropriation funding
This is essential for a transformation programme. Without multi-year funding, you will:
- spend significant time in administration trying to move money around
- lose significant productivity while teams spend a lot of their time building the case for the next phase, and
- find it difficult to commercially negotiate the best deals.
You need to have a clear view of the impact of co-existence and the resulting cost to the organisation. Do not underestimate the impact of having to run multiple processes or systems. In our case, co-existence lasted right up to the final release.
Clear roadmap of the stages or phases
Be clear about what you are delivering and when you will deliver. This will become crucial in allowing you to report consistently against progress.
Due to the size of the investment, it is important to make sure your original business case recommends regular progress updates.
Investment objectives guided the programme business case
We developed investment objectives early in the process to guide the plan’s development. These need to be clear and in plain English that both the organisation and Ministers could relate to them.
A clear and simple engagement plan
This meant regular engagement with Minsters, including the Minister of Finance, and Corporate Centre involvement in the programme business case’s development. For example, we seconded a Treasury official to support in the development of the case.
Being clear about the proposed Programme structure
Dedicated leadership is essential. Transformation cannot be an ‘add on’ to a busy day job.
Planning to deliver the benefits
Benefits were a clear part of the story from the beginning. At first, we focused on dollars or time saved, and as transformation progressed, we became more customer focused. Our focus then started to reflect the benefits of helping customers get it right from the start, rather than punishing them when they got it wrong. We were very aware of the need to design the benefits into both the vision and the delivery. If the design did not deliver benefits, it was not right. Delivering the benefits was essential for success and for paying for the programme.
Not underestimating the change management required
Delivering Transformation meant there was little space for anything else. We planned for and put a dedicated focus on change management. This included intensive internal stakeholder work during design, readiness, and delivery. This made sure we had continued support at all levels, and business ownership and integration of outcomes.
Putting customer needs at the centre of your thinking
By including our customers and stakeholders in the design and testing, we were able to put customer needs at the centre of our thinking. Over this time, we gained a deeper understanding of how customers behave and their likely reactions to changes. We organised ourselves around customer types and shifted to a ‘right from the start’ mindset.