ATO IT strategy – summary


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… agile and intelligent in a digital world

 Influences on the ATO IT strategy



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Our new leadership team is driving a transformational program, reinventing the ATO to realise our newly articulated vision, mission and values. This program challenges our thinking about concepts such as compliance and participation, the client experience, being contemporary, and managing the pressures of being a useful and sustainable large public service organisation. Our IT strategy is a key element to underpin and help drive this transformation.

Building on a strong foundation, we are reinventing the way we work to respond to the expectations of the community and government. At a practical level, reinventing the ATO will result in a different culture, new products and services, strong connections to the community, productivity improvements and a willingness to change.

Our clients expect to receive our services in the way they interact with other service organisations – at a time and place that is convenient for them and allows them to employ their preferred channel. They expect us to understand their previous interactions and tailor our services and responses accordingly. Our solutions need to evolve and keep pace with changes in community expectations and needs.

Increasing the productivity of our economy is a key challenge facing Australia.The costs businesses incur in dealing with government, including the ATO, impact on their ability to run and grow their business. The Australian Government has committed to building a stronger, more productive economy by imposing a red-and-green-tape target reduction of $1 billion a year.

Globalisation is now affecting small to medium businesses, and this is increasing the complexity of the financial affairs of businesses, challenging the ability of intermediaries and increasing risk in the tax system.

Government agencies are expected to work together to improve the delivery of services to all Australians. We are called on to adopt a digital by default, manual by exemption, approach aligned with the government’s Digital First policy and programs such as myGov.

The Australian Public Service Commission capability review systematically examined our organisational capability and identified five priority areas for improvement – developing a forward-looking, enterprise-wide strategy; developing ICT efficiency and agility; building the future workforce; streamlining governance arrangements and structures; and improving external connectedness.

The global IT environment still sees increasingly rapid advances in technologies such as analytics, social, mobile and cloud. Our IT strategy needs to trace a path for us to drive value from these trends.

We will need to deliver our transformational change in an extremely tight fiscal environment.

The transformation agenda cannot be our sole focus – it is critically important that we ensure the stability and performance of our production systems and that we successfully deliver the government’s policy agenda.

IT strategy focus areas

Building agility, intelligence and efficiency is at the heart of our IT Strategy, and will direct how we invest, design and deliver our services. It will guide how we operate internally to effectively manage change, and how we work as a professional and productive organisation in delivering our products and services to our internal and external clients.

Our IT strategy will enable us to deliver and improve our core activities and help transform the client experience, focused on building the right technology capabilities, operating environment and culture, and supporting the changes to our business as it transforms into a truly digital enterprise. It will be an environment where information is collected, shared and managed as a dynamic corporate asset, and is used to provide contemporary digital services and a tailored experience to the community.

Our strategic focus areas are:

  • End-to-end digital service delivery
  • Insight and intelligence
  • Digital working environment
  • Reinventing how our IT services operate.

End-to-end digital service delivery

People expect convenient, integrated and accessible interactions in their dealings with a contemporary service organisation. Increasing stakeholder expectations to interact digitally with the ATO and government is driving the need to provide more contemporary tailored services. To achieve this, we will design and deliver digital services 'as though the paper process had never existed'.

We will move:

  • From accepting lodgments digitally to servicing the full customer experience digitally end-to-end
  • From siloed channels to seamlessly integrated channels
  • From one size fits all to personalised situation-aware services tailored to the customer’s unique situation and needs
  • From ATO-designed services to inclusive co-design with the full range of internal and community stakeholders
  • From ATO-centric service delivery to fully integrated whole-of-government digital services.

In the future, we aim to:

  • Design from the customer-experience perspective first
  • Enable low- or no-touch experience through integration with customer natural systems and using our own and third-party data holdings
  • Consider designing for the mobile platform first – this is increasingly the preferred channel for users
  • Support seamless channel switching in mid-interaction – for example, from online self-service to web chat
  • Evolve our services in pace with evolving community expectations and in line with digital services provided by other leading service organisations
  • Use our knowledge of the customer’s situation and previous interactions with us to increase the effectiveness of our processes by tailoring service and compliance offers
  • Take advantage of emerging trends in information technology to keep ourselves closer to the forefront – to become an early adopter
  • Prototype new services with a 'succeed or fail fast' mindset
  • Reduce over time the customer reliance on face-to-face, high-touch, and paper channels
  • Take more advantage of wholesale service offerings in which ATO functionality is embedded in third-party software products.

Insight and intelligence

Our data is an enterprise asset and we must use it to make better decisions for compliance and service delivery based on deep understanding of what drives taxpayer behaviour and of potential vulnerabilities in the tax and superannuation systems. It is also about deriving predictive insight and enhanced intelligence from our data asset.

We will move:

  • From holding data in silos to enabling the whole enterprise to leverage our holdings
  • From using our analytics to report on what has occurred to predicting and influencing what is likely to occur
  • From overnight batch to right time analytics
  • From tightly holding our data to sharing and publishing datasets for whole-of-government and public use
  • From disaggregated data holdings to integrated ones with reliable quality assurance.

In the future, we aim to:

  • Unlock the value of our information holdings to better serve business and stakeholder needs
  • Increase our use of, and integration with, third-party data sources
  • Continue to assure the security and integrity of our data
  • Simplify client experience by directly gathering information from normal economic interactions, such as payroll and point of sale rather than requiring separate lodgment processes.
  • Create a data warehouse dedicated to exploratory analysis and intelligence investigations
  • Support each client contact with information on previous interactions, and the risk profile of the customer, to enable more effective engagement and service delivery
  • Embed our insight into processes to ‘nudge’ behaviour through proactive communications
  • Increase our ability to effectively use unstructured data and social media feeds
  • Use our information to quickly identify and better manage new and emerging risks and intelligence.

Digital working environment

As we move toward our vision, the ATO workforce will undergo a transition from mainly transaction and exception processing to a greater focus on knowledge work – delivering outcomes by leveraging tools and information. This change will require new ways of working that are enabled through technology and robust knowledge management.

We will move:

  • From basic desktop collaboration tools to rich collaboration environments that will modernise the way people work
  • From in-house only collaboration tools to capabilities that link us to other government departments, and even the community, allowing a range of conferencing, work sharing and consultation facilities
  • From a standard one size fits all computer offering to a suite of offerings customised to support the nature of people’s work and preferences
  • From limited support for working out of the office to high-performing and reliable external access to the full range of ATONet services from any internet-connected device, anywhere, any time.

In the future, we aim to:

  • Provide federated search capabilities across important ATO data holdings
  • Create a social media-style intranet that supports following people, websites and organisations
  • Provide the technology for flexible and customised working arrangements, including bring your own device and software options
  • Leverage social networking by implementing 'enterprise social' solutions
  • Provide knowledge-management and decision-support solutions to assist people in consistently delivering on more complex work
  • Have the means to integrate our work with stakeholders in the community.

Reinventing how our IT services operate

To deliver on the focus areas described, we must reinvent the way we operate. We must reinvent the way we work to respond to the expectations of the business and community. At a practical level transforming our IT organisation will result in a different culture, streamlined processes, new technologies, stronger connections to our stakeholders, productivity improvements and an openness and willingness to change.

We will move:

  • From all work going through the same large-scale governance and methodology to applying more agile approaches, where the risk level and required outcomes allow
  • From complex, opaque processes with multiple decision points and unclear decision rights to streamlined processes with clear decision rights and accountabilities
  • From being a late adopter of new technologies to being willing to experiment, prototype and 'fail fast and iterate'
  • From delivering projects to delivering programs and portfolios of work that produce desired business outcomes.

To deliver on the strategy our people aim to:

  • Operate within an environment of constant change, whole-of-enterprise awareness, and stakeholder partnership
  • Maintain an appropriate focus on business-as-usual and production systems, while directing significant resources to our reinvention agenda
  • Provide customers with the ability to access our systems at a time that suits them
  • Strengthen leadership, shape a culture of stakeholder partnership, engagement and performance
  • Shape demand through benefits-realisation techniques to prioritise the most valuable work and to manage programs through to target outcomes
  • Stop projects when the forecast outcomes won’t be met
  • Build solutions that solve the whole business requirement, reducing the need for manual workarounds
  • Focus recruitment, sourcing and workforce development to build the necessary capabilities, expertise and skills
  • Operate transparently and 'show back' the costs and implications of the work we are asked to do to our business partners
  • Engage, communicate and change.

Managing the change

Strong management and governance will ensure that our IT strategy achieves sustained organisational value, and that we are making the best use of available funding and resources.

Alignment of the implementation of the IT strategy with broader ATO priorities will be achieved through:

  • IT Governance – employing a risk-based governance framework that considers both performance and conformance through corporate governance processes, corporate financial management, and effective management of information and knowledge.
  • IT Financial Management – to provide financial management, procurement and assurance we will:
    • embed strong financial management
    • drive improvements in departmental budget and forecast management
    • manage our current year expenditure within budget and position ourselves for a sustainable financial outcome in future years.
  • IT Principles – guide and influence how strategic decisions are made, and ensure that our IT priorities remain aligned to those of the broader ATO.
  • Performance Metrics – align the IT metrics and measures of success with the ATO measures, at both the strategic and operational level. We will embed these measures in our relationships and contracts with industry partners.

Our headline measures include:

  • IT contribution to the delivery of the reinventing the ATO program
  • Delivery of new and refreshed IT services
  • Availability and reliability of IT services (increased)
  • Transparency in planned and actual spend of IT portfolio budget.
    Last modified: 30 Jun 2014QC 41115