Developing the Accountancy Profession

IFAC & cloudThing’s PAO Digital Assessment Tool Part 1: How To Assess Your Organizations Culture & Capability Ahead of a Digital Transformation

cloudThing | February 3, 2021

IFAC recently teamed up with cloudThing to offer our membership a free Digital Assessment Tool that would assess an organization’s Digital Readiness ahead of a digital transformation project. cloudThing’s PAO Digital Assessment tool has been designed to measure how digitally ‘mature’ an organization is, or where they already are on their individual digital transformation journey.

The Tool will be open for PAOs to complete from November 12, 2020, to March 31, 2021. During this time, IFAC's main objective is to help PAOs complete the tool and understand, interpret, and prioritize their results. The results, (after being thoroughly anonymized) will allow IFAC, working in conjunction with cloudThing, to assess the digital readiness of the accountancy profession as a whole and strategize future support.

PAO Digital Assessment Tool Part 1 – Culture & Capability

The Digital Assessment tool comes in multiple parts, to assess individual components of an organization, with the first section being around Culture & Capability. Culture and capability can be 'make or break' factors in the success of an organization. It is cloudThing’s experience that organizations that focus on transforming culture and building capabilities during a digital transformation are significantly more likely to succeed. The Culture & Capability section focuses on how an organization is geared up to empower digital transformation. This is further broken down into seven subtopics.

An Organization’s Approach to Innovation

This topic was specifically designed to assess how ‘open’ an organization might be to change through digital transformation through their ability to foster new ideas from within, develop new business opportunities and be able to test them in an environment in which it is safe to fail without affecting normal business operations.  

These things are important to a digital transformation as they:

  • Motivate staff within an organization to develop ideas that create value through digital adoption, while also encouraging risk taking and experimentation.
  • Safeguard current business activity and customer experiences while demonstrating digital leadership to members, customers, and staff.
  • Prevent siloed thinking and facilitate cross-functional teamwork to empower digital innovation.
  • Prevent a re-creation of existing processes and practices in a digital context which wastes an organization’s time and resources, while focusing instead on rationale (E.G., efficiency, market opportunity or customer experience).
Assessing an Organizations Approach to Business Analysis & Architecture

The next section is concerned with how well an organization understands ‘itself’; being able to develop and maintain the capabilities of the business in line with an overarching strategy, including the identification of business needs (both existing and new) while determining solutions to business problems (again both existing and new).

It is might be that solutions to issues raised within this subtopic may have a software/systems development component but are much more likely to consist of process improvement.

Getting specific, the solutions would look to:

  • Understand how the organization operates.
  • Remove waste and inefficiency.
  • Challenge entrenched ways of working to achieve improvement.
  • Document and standardize processes.
  • Measure and track processes to drive improvement.
Measuring an Organizations Approach to User Experience (UX) Research & Design

UX, or User Experience research and design is the study of users (in this case, PAOs’ members) and their needs, expectations, and requirements to help add realistic contexts and insights into design processes by adopting various methods to uncover problems and design opportunities.

This step of the assessment process seeks to measure an organization’s approach and openness to UX. The right use of UX will allow PAOs to put members at the heart of the online experience. It will allow PAOs to identify and then prove or disprove assumptions about their target audience(s), find commonalities and recognize their needs, goals, and mental models.

Solutions put forward around UX will seek to:

  • Improve the efficiency of development, often lowering costs.
  • Reduce the need for the re-development work after launch as it was not fit for purpose once it came to market.
  • Improve member satisfaction and engagement levels with the online experience being offered.
  • Improve member sign-up conversion and retention rates.
  • Broaden the appeal/increase accessibility of an organization’s offerings to audiences with needs that are often overlooked.
How Does Your Organization Approach Enterprise Grade Architecture?

The next pillar looks at an organization’s enterprise grade architecture which, when done well, provides the organization with the foundation, principles and approach for the formulation and subsequent realization of a successful strategy.

That strategy should be capable of guiding the organization through the business, information, process, and technology changes needed for a digital transformation by providing a detailed blueprint of organizational structures and operations. 

That strategy should include… 

  • An authoritative, unambiguous record of how the organization operates.
  • Support informed decision making by the constant nurturing and refinement of an organization’s architecture. 
  • Unravel the inherent complexity of systems, solutions, and processes to enable and empower continuous improvement.
  • Pave the way for incremental transformation that is guided by the documented enterprise level architecture.
  • Identify operational and process inefficiencies and provide a structure for their effective and speedy removal.
  • Ensure process waste is actively identified, managed, minimized, and cleansed.
How Advanced is Your Approach to DevSecOps?

DevSecOps, or Development & Security Operations, is your organization’s framework of people, tooling, culture, and practices that enable and empower it to deliver applications and services at high velocity. It also allows your teams to better self-organize, deliver faster through iterative developments, and digital change that can be measured in weeks, not years, by using a security-by-design focus.

This step in the digital assessment tool has been designed to see where your organization is around instituting a culture of DevSecOps that would allow it to:

  • Enable your teams to deliver applications and services with much higher velocity than previously possible. 
  • Facilitate self-sufficient teams to publish changes through repeatable and reliable processes.
  • Embed proven agile processes into your cultural ethos. 
  • Change your culture from ‘operations vs delivery vs the business’ to a ‘one team’ approach. 
  • Ensure a Security-by-Design culture is adopted and is considered at all points. 
  • Safeguard systems by providing automated tooling and pipelines for teams with robustly assured quality gateways. 
  • Allow clear and frequent stakeholder reporting by adopting a data driven approach to delivery across all practices. 
  • Enable rapid re-use of tooling and practices to help all programs of work within your IT team.
Does Your Organization Have an Approach to Test & Assurance?

Quality assurance is an important step that many organizations skip. Giving your developers access to a team of test assurance specialists who are integrated into your digital projects from the outset is vital.

They should be trained in functional and non-functional test techniques, automated testing and be experts right across the lifecycle of a development project, being able to plan, execute, monitor, and control.

All the above makes your test team integral in upholding product quality, from small change requests to large scale digital transformation projects by:

  • Focusing on the delivery of high-quality digital services. 
  • Having skilled professionals that offer a wide range of test techniques, tools, and experience to the organization, which enables focused, efficient, risk-based test execution.
  • Allowing for independent verification of software. 
  • Creating a measurable output of quantitative, quality-centric data to support the decision-making process of the organization.  
How Established Is Privacy & Security Within an Organization?

The final step of this section of the digital readiness assessment looks at how embedded a culture of Privacy and Security is within an organisation.  

With an increasingly data-dependent economy, an organization’s digital privacy and security has never been more important.

Privacy laws, regulations, and standards will differ from one part of the world to the next but that only makes it even more important for organizations conducting business on a global scale to be clear of which jurisdictions’ rules apply to ensure their staff and members are fully protected.

As part of that it is vital to ensure that:

  • Staff and members’ identities and data are protected from theft and fraud. 
  • Transactions involving sensitive or payment related data are secure.  
  • You focus on maximizing trust in your organization with measures ensuring online privacy and security which are clear to staff and members.
Complete Your Assessment!

Locate the email sent on behalf of IFAC Membership, with the subject line, "IFAC PAO Digital Readiness Assessment Tool Launch." Your organization's unique access link will be located within.

If you have any issues with registration, please contact support@baselined.app for assistance. 
If you cannot locate the email, please contact membership@ifac.org.

Check out IFAC’s PAO Digital Transformation Series webpage which houses helpful resources, articles and videos on Digital Transformation and is regularly updated!

 

cloudThing, based in the UK, is a technology company that help organizations such as the British Red Cross, The South African Institute of Accountants, and the Institute of Chartered Accountants (England & Wales) to name but a few, digitally transform by taking advantage of the automation technology available to them on the cloud.

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