Where the digital transformation journey begins — sharing our Digital Maturity Assessment model

Why is digital transformation important in development?

Our role as the UNDP is to support governments to develop their digital strategies, to help bring those strategies to life through pilots and programmes that lead to systemic change, and, most importantly, ensure that any digital strategies and any digital transformation is inclusive and drives meaningful benefit for everyone in society.

Sharing the Digital Maturity Assessment

The UNDP Digital Maturity assessment is complimentary to the UNDP readiness assessment (see this great example from Moldova) and dives deeper into the best areas for digital piloting and testing.

A diagram showing the different parts of the digital maturity assessment.
Example of the Digital Maturity Assessment Framework

When to use a Digital Maturity Assessment and when to do something else

One of the challenges of introducing a product like this is when to use it and when to suggest something else to support governments on their digital transformation journey. Doing a Digital Maturity Assessment can act as a good in route into working with governments on substantive change rather than just short-term pilots (although some “quick wins” are a good tactic in broader strategic change) it can also help embed core principles of inclusive development at the start which many other assessment approaches do not. The assessment also shows government partners about how all the areas of digital transformation fit together rather than seeing areas of digital transformation separately or as projects.

  • The Government doesn’t have a current digital strategy or does not have a roadmap or plan associated with their current strategy,
  • When the government wants to re-evaluate their current digital strategy,
  • There is disagreement between government departments and ministries on who leads digital or who is responsible for digital transformation,
  • There is a lack of clarity about where investment needs to be made or there is disagreement about areas that need support,
  • Some Ministries have digital strategies and plans, but others do not,
  • When there has been little action in enacting a current digital programme.
  • When there is a clear government digital strategy and roadmap across Ministries that has buy in and is making progress,
  • When there has been a recent assessment completed by a trusted body Ie World Bank, ADB or others,
  • When there are already pilots underway that are supported but just need financing,
  • When there is no agreement from the government that digital transformation is important.

The success in Lao PDR

For many governments who desire a whole-of-government transformation there is nervousness about where to start this important work. This kind of transformation not only includes new infrastructure, hardware and software, but it also requires a new mindset for civil servants (which will be the focus of one of our upcoming blog posts), new systems and processes and new methodologies. It often requires a new vision for what is possible, for example bringing all government services online will change the nature of how citizens interact with government but will also change many of the roles within government.

What happens next in Lao PDR?

After the Digital Maturity Assessment report, we swiftly moved into developing a national digital blueprint and roadmap. Through the interviews and assessment process important relationships were formed, an understanding of where digital transformation can take place was developed which was a key part of the success of the next phase, moving to pilots.

What’s next for this digital work?

The Regional Innovation Centre will be testing the model again in Indonesia for the remainder of 2022 and we are also looking at three areas to adapt and improve the model. Firstly, to embed more agility in the model — agile (definition) is there but it’s not explicit enough, secondly to bring more inclusion more explicitly into the model and thirdly to try and build more systemic thinking into the model. All of these elements are in our practice, but they are not codified and therefore not explicit and must be captured when moving to scale.

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Regional Innovation Centre UNDP Asia-Pacific

Regional Innovation Centre UNDP Asia-Pacific

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Doing development differently through designing, developing, curating, collating and championing innovation and digital across the Asia Pacific Region.