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Dream big, start small

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Cross Gov Collaboration

Brigid McBride HMRC Digital hosts Transforming Together

Dream big, start small. That’s just one of messages I took away from last week’s Transforming Together event.

It was HMRC’s turn to host the latest in this series of Government Digital Service-led events. And it was an amazing day spent talking digital with colleagues from across government in our new Collaboration Zone right in the heart of Yorkshire. Apart from anything else, it was great to see so many key players in government digital getting together outside London.

The basic principles of the new Government Transformation Strategy are all about cross- government collaboration. Transforming Together is about meeting up with colleagues from across government to share our experiences and to develop a joint approach to delivering transformation. Every department, whether big or small, is on the same journey and all with the same aim: to deliver great services to our customers. So why not do it together?

Taking ownership

Holly Ellis, Chief Operating Officer at the Home Office, set the tone for the day with her questions to everyone. Who owns the definitions of how we do things? Who owns our culture? Who owns empowering teams? The answer: absolutely everyone, even when it’s not entirely within our gift.

She encourages everyone to shape the environment in which they work, to take opportunities as they present themselves, to seek out opportunities when they don’t. And okay, sometimes not everything is within our gift, so focus on the things that truly are. Sound principles which we can all use, at all levels.

Big data

The breakout sessions were lively with open and honest debate from everyone. I was particularly struck by the buzz of conversations around how we can share data across government and how the possibilities for positive change are really exciting everyone.

Internal transformation

For me the key message of the day came from our own Mike Potter, HMRC Chief Digital & Information Officer. Mike talked about how some of our recent transformation has been massive with 18 new services in the last year, 5m businesses can access their online business account, and 8m people have used their Personal Tax account.

He explained all this was only possible because behind the scenes we’ve gradually transformed our internal processes. We’ve done this using intelligent forms that speed things up and improve data quality, scanning inbound post so we can work it digitally, and using robotic automation to remove repetitive tasks that free people up for more interesting and satisfying work. All valuable technologies on their own, but even more powerful when combined together.

Mike stressed to everyone that, no matter how big or small your department is, if you can build a digital front end service then you can transform internally. His advice: start with forms, then digitise with robotics later. The technologies aren’t hard, mind-set change is harder and if you build a capability you can be up and running very quickly and making real changes.

I love Mike’s closing remark: remember to dream big, start small.


Director of Digital Transformation

For more information on Transforming Together and future events visit the Transforming Together blog

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  1. Comment by Salma Mallam posted on

    Great read. Working in data acquisition and sharing so very interested in big data and working more collaboratively across government

  2. Comment by Umer posted on

    Great blog, Brigid!