The incompletable jigsaw: part two

RoS is an excellent candidate for digital transformation. It’s got 1,200 staff, two offices (one in Edinburgh, the other in Glasgow), 500 servers, over 300 applications, and a public-facing portal that alleviates some of the manual processing around land registration. Our function is to hold all the information pertaining to any piece of land in Scotland, including its transactional history, but we also hold 16 other diverse registers, with more to be added to our responsibilities soon.

Most of the processing of land registration is manual and paper based. This is unwieldy, and a laborious process which takes time for each transaction, not to mention the high possibility of error due to the number of unique (un-automated) steps. Many case workers have to deal with high volumes of transactions (like house and land sales), but ā€“ importantly ā€“ this is effectively a process of collecting information, checking it, making some rudimentary decisions, and converting the paper based information to an electronic format.

This basic (but high volume) function alone makes RoS a desirable candidate for undergoing digital transformation. Add in the McClelland Report commitment of the Scottish government to a ‘digital Scotland’ and the findings and recommendations of the McClelland Report (which reviewed the use of ICT in the public sector in Scotland), and our direction to travel was fairly easy to establish.

The ethos behind our digital strategy

Establishing RoS’ digital strategy wasn’t bound by the constraints of the ‘iron triangle’ of cost, time and scope. Instead, we used the approach shown in the table below.

Constraint Why not? Adopted mantra Why?
Cost A project bound by a fixed cost cannot deal easily with change, unexpected issues and evolving requirements. Deliver value early and often. Understand that unlocking value is cumulative; as long as there is value to be delivered that justifies the cost, more iterations can be undertaken.
Time A hard delivery date risks the quality of the expected product, which in itself is based on the flawed assertion of fixed scope. Optimise flow to deliver faster. Using an agile approach removes waste from the delivery process and improves velocity; this realises constant improvement over a relative timeline.
Scope A fixed scope gives no flexibility to adapt the approach to new needs or issues discovered during the project that need a reaction. Use fast feedback to drive quality. Setting an inflexible initial scope does not work, particularly in a long project. Use user feedback to adapt and evolve the scope, constantly supplying quality and value to the business.


In the final blog of this series, I’ll outline how we went about setting RoS’ digital strategy.

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