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Published 20 April 2023
© Crown copyright 2023
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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/digital-data-and-technology-ddat-strategy/digital-data-and-technology-ddat-strategy
As the world’s oldest export credit agency (ECA), UK Export Finance (UKEF) has played a vital role in supporting UK exporters for over 100 years, providing finance and credit insurance in helping them win, fulfil, and get paid for export contracts. In doing this, UKEF advances prosperity in the UK, with our work in 2021-22 supporting 72,000 UK jobs and adding a gross value of £4.3 billion to the economy.
The demands on UKEF to respond quickly to emerging economic developments, market trends and deliver high-quality, efficient customer-centric services have become more evident. In ensuring no viable export fails, UKEF will have to be even more effective. The need to embrace innovation and champion change is paramount. DDaT is at the heart of realising this ambition, enabling the department to, in its unique goal of operating at no net cost to the taxpayer (generating a £324 million net operating profit in 2021/22), continue to operate efficiently and manage financial risk to protect the interests of the UK taxpayer while scaling its support.
Successfully delivering on the ambitions of this Strategy will not be without its challenges. As a newly formed directorate, DDaT is having to build its capabilities and fill its skills gap, against the backdrop of a competitive jobs market, budgetary constraints and existing change programmes. However, the Strategy’s high-level principles, and culture it seeks to embed, provides the framework and ways of working to succeed in realising this Strategy’s ambition.
DDaT will enable UKEF to be the best export credit agency by transforming and delivering great, flexible services that meet our customers’ needs and business aspirations as they evolve over time. We will enable UKEF to advance prosperity sustainably, whilst providing value for money in what we do, and ultimately supporting the Government’s Growth Agenda.
DDaT will do this by focusing on four key themes:
Using a range of digital services and technologies to meet the needs of our customers, staff and stakeholders, we will align to the service vision below, ensuring we remain flexible and adaptable to changing needs.
Service vision infographic: A diagram showing how UKEF’s service offering will allow customers to find support and UKEF staff to manage customers, their support and UKEF’s portfolio of business through external and internal facing systems and services.
We work to the values in the Civil Service code: integrity, honesty, objectivity and impartiality.
It means that we: value, respect, and trust everyone; are inclusive and open, and actively make a difference to our economy and society in what and how we deliver. As one diverse and motivated DDaT team, we also embrace:
Our principles are designed to complement Government standards and Declaration on Government Reform, ensuring we deliver better for citizens, staff and our customers. Our principles are:
We are a customer-centric team, developing future-proofed services that make it easier for internal and external users to achieve their goals through the best use of our people, finances and partners. We do this by meeting users’ needs first, challenging assumptions and reducing complexity in our services and processes. We measure our success by the outcomes our users achieve, rather than the outputs we deliver; by conducting research, testing and gathering data from our services; and are committed to continually improving them.
We offer a range of services to enable UK businesses to export, through insurance, credit, or direct lending. Our users are diverse, ranging from: banks, microbusinesses to large global conglomerates; established traders to first time exporters. To ensure these services are useful, they address problems faced by our users and are designed around their needs.
We are committed to providing services that can be used by anyone, regardless of accessibility, need or situation. We need to continually understand who our users are, how they operate and the context in which they are using our services. By learning about, and understanding our users we can ensure our services are designed in a way that is:
We lead and support an insight-rich and data-driven department with a continuous record of high performance. We do this with accurate, timely, easily accessible data, analysis, and insights from across UKEF that underpin robust strategic and operational decision making. We deliver high-quality services to users by providing the right tools, knowledge, and technology, whilst adhering to the data ethics framework.
The importance of data cannot be overstated. It is the foundation of any organisation’s ability to inform decisions, identify risks, and generate new business opportunities. It transforms how an organisation operates, allowing it to be more effective and targeted. When data drives decisions, we understand the actual effect of services and can identify what does and does not work to improve business strategies.
Systems, processes, and people are key in making the organisation more data driven. We will change UKEF’s approach and culture around data from reactive to proactive. The approach is split into three key areas:
We deliver and maintain high quality services that improve over time, delivering value for users early by starting small and iterating. This will set the foundation to scale at pace, ensuring we are learning from real people as they use our services. We take a service, rather than a project-specific, approach to our products, allowing UKEF’s offering to grow and develop along with users’ needs.
External factors can greatly impact UK exporters’ needs and expectations. It is important UKEF can respond to changes in an agile and adaptable way and our approach to services should reflect that. By taking an iterative approach to building and maintaining services, we continually test with users, ensuring that we learn quickly and apply valuable lessons to inform future development and research.
Adopting an agile approach, which emphasises building quickly, testing, and iterating work based on regular feedback, is pivotal in achieving high quality outcomes. It also reduces risks associated with delivery and ensures services are built that meet users’ needs, business aspirations and deliver value to users sooner. Its core principles are:
We celebrate and are proud of our successes while collaborating and sharing openly on things we could do better. Our work, whether design patterns or code, workshop sessions or presentations, is reusable and repeatable where possible and appropriate. We do this both within UKEF and across government, making sure it is consistent with government standards, government strategy and best practice.
Innovation comes from high-quality collaboration, where a culture of experimentation and sharing is actively encouraged across all professions. Sharing designs, data, and technologies, within commercial, security and ethical constraints, is efficient, cost-effective and delivers a better, more consistent service for users by drawing from a larger pool of knowledge and experience to develop solutions to whole problems.
By reusing existing government services, information and technologies from previous work you speed up delivery, create a consistent approach, as well as avoiding duplication and unnecessary spending, providing a more efficient, better value for money service.
We run our technology in a cost effective, sustainable way – using open standards and common components – allowing staff to work securely and efficiently. Our services are reliable, secure, meet users’ needs and protects their privacy, while also meeting wider organisation requirements, ensuring value for money across their entire lifecycle.
From offshore wind farms in Taiwan to family cheese exporters in Somerset, the technology and infrastructure that enables these deals to happen – to allow UKEF staff to work efficiently and securely, both in the UK and overseas – is critical to the department’s success.
To enable this, the appropriate tools and technologies need to be used to create and operate high-quality services in a cost-effective way, ensuring the technological and commercial aspects and contractual limitations are considered, with an emphasis on:
We have a highly engaged workforce, built of empowered multidisciplinary teams with the skills to excel in their work. The diversity of the team is a strength that is nurtured, and innovation and inclusion actively encouraged. We embed a culture of learning and continuous improvement, with clear career progression and support for all.
None of the Strategy’s ambitions can be delivered without the knowledge and expertise of our people. Our people are fundamental to DDaT’s success and therefore prioritising their wellbeing and development is vital. To ensure we have the right experience and capabilities to deliver on our Strategy, a balance needs to be struck of attracting talent to bring fresh perspectives, while building in-house capability by offering opportunities for staff to achieve their potential and develop their careers in our DDaT team.
We will seek to: motivate our people to develop into multi-skilled individuals; grow our capabilities by developing and investing in our people; create fulfilling and empowering roles; and have a working environment where learning and continuous improvement are embedded into the culture. We want staff to feel confident to experiment, design creative solutions and empowered to put forward bold ideas.
The DDaT directorate is an integral part of UKEF’s ability to deliver for our customers. This strategy outlines the approach DDaT will take to create great services and tools to enable UKEF to manage and grow the business by building brilliant teams and practices, putting the customer at the heart of what we do.
As with any ambitious strategy, there are risks associated with its delivery, namely that it doesn’t achieve its intended purpose or priorities and that the strategy’s principles aren’t adopted across DDaT and the organisation. To robustly manage and mitigate these risks, we will deliver this strategy through driving a digital, data and technology cultural change across the organisation through the delivery mechanisms outlined below.
Our strategy delivery approach: The hierarchy of delivery mechanisms the strategy will be delivered through. From the top down the UKEF business plan informs the UKEF Transformation and Change Plan which informs the UKEF Operational Plan which informs the DDaT Divisional plans. These are all underpinned by the DDaT strategy and collectively these feed into the UKEF Target Operating Model.
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