This is one of a series of guest blog posts on topics relevant to public services in Wales, written by Dyfrig Williams.
Over the past few months, I’ve been working on the Cutting Edge Audit project for the Wales Audit Office, which looks at how we can challenge our existing use of data and technology and assumptions that we normally take for granted. We’ve been thinking radically about how we might use new technology to transform the way that we work.
I’ve been working on how the Wales Audit Office acquires data to give us deeper knowledge and fresh insight. That’s involved looking at how we produce and make use of Open Data, how we make data accessible and data warehousing.
Why is Data Maturity important?
In the course of my work I’ve come across some organisations who are making fantastic use of the data that’s available to them, such as the Queensland Audit Office. But we’re very much at the start of our journey, so how do we begin?
Data Maturity is the journey towards improvement and increased capability in using data, and the concept gave us a tangible vision for our work. We began looking for frameworks that could be helpful (and there’s more out there than you can shake a stick at), and we found Data Orchard’s Framework to be particularly simple and user friendly. It’s especially useful as it’s looking at what this looks like for not-for-profit organisations. I particularly like this breakdown of it from a great post by Ben Proctor, as it’s so easy to understand:
- Ad-hoc gathering of data in some areas
- Pulling data together centrally
- Starting to use data looking backwards
- Using data in real time to manage the organisation and move resources rapidly
- Modelling the future before making decisions to enable better decisions to be taken
- Modelling the future the organisation wants and working backwards to understand what needs to happen now to deliver that future
This framework has really informed my thinking. It’s helped me think about how we get to point 6, where we’re modelling the future that the organisation is working towards, and ensure that the things that I’m working on set us out on the right path beyond the lifespan of the Cutting Edge project.
Learning and sharing
Throughout this project, we’ve been talking to other organisations to learn from what they’re doing, and we’ve been able to learn from good practice and from what they’d do differently if they had their time again. It’s been great learning about how the Office of the Auditor General for New Zealand have reduced the complexity of their systems by making them open by default. Our project has also been working iteratively to produce small tests and prototypes so that we can build on our successes, but also learn from our failures.
This is where unconferences like GovCamp Cymru are really useful. It’s a unique opportunity to meet people who are passionate about improving public services, who share what’s worked well and what they might do differently if they had their time again. If you’re making the most of the data that’s at your organisation’s metaphorical fingertips, please do give me a nudge at GovCamp Cymru – I’d love to have a chat with you so that I can learn from what you’re doing.
Dyfrig Williams is a Good Practice Exchange Officer for the Wales Audit Office, where he encourages public service improvement through knowledge exchange. He is on Twitter as @DyfrigWilliams and blogs about public service improvement at http://medium.com/@DyfrigWilliams.
GovCamp Cymru 2017 is happening on 14th October. Join the conversation online on the GovCamp Cymru Slack. (New to Slack?) Join the mailing list for ticket releases, the first batch will be available on Monday 26th June, 10:00am. Find us on twitter and Facebook!
Do you fancy contributing a guest blog post on a topic relevant to public services in Wales? Get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org.