From insights to action

8th March 2024

How to extract value from a data maturity assessment

By James Holliss, Data & Analytics Lead, Civica

In the Lunch and Learn episode, “Have you got a grip on data maturity?” I discussed the Data Maturity Assessment (DMA) for government. If you’ve seen the recording, you should have a good understanding of the purpose of the assessment, as well as the typical outcomes you can expect.

In this article, I’m diving deeper into maximising the value of a DMA. Why is it a valuable exercise for any organisation (regardless of which sector)? Is it worth the time commitment and effort? And how can you get buy in from higher up?

I believe that even the process of completing a DMA is valuable. If it takes you months of chasing team leaders, gathering data from disparate systems, and tracking down missing information, that’s already indicative of low data maturity. That insight alone could be important.

However, there’s no escaping the fact that the assessment is an investment of time and budget. For example, when working with Skills Development Scotland on the discovery phase of their Information Management Strategy, Civica interviewed 76 stakeholders over five weeks.

To maximise the return on that investment, you need to be confident that you will benefit from the exercise.

Data maturity applies to every organisation

The government’s Central Digital and Data Office (CDDO) are asking all government organisations to complete their assessment. With data that covers potentially every UK citizen, it’s easy to imagine the impact of this initiative.

But even without the pressure from the CDDO, a Data Maturity Assessment would be a hugely worthwhile undertaking. At Civica, we work with organisations across many sectors, not just government. The pressures and opportunities will be different, but data is something that every organisation uses.

The format of an assessment is as individual as the organisation. Some organisations we work with undertake surface-level assessments to gain more insight into a particular department or function before exploring further. Others choose to do a deep dive, exploring every detail like how a particular report is produced or how mature a particular process is. The assessment could cover a single team or the whole business.

Getting internal approval and buy in

Most organisations will appoint an internal champion or sponsor to drive the project. That’s really important – having someone in a leadership position who can bring people along on the journey is essential. You’ll find it much easier to gather information for the assessment and to implement improvements further down the line.

But what if some departments or executives are sceptical? Perhaps they don’t see a return on investment for the time you’ll need to commit. Or maybe they simply think their current processes are working fine.

I would recommend framing any internal persuasive messaging around the CDDO framework’s six themes (even if you’re not a government organisation):

  • Uses
    • How you get value out of data
    • Making decisions, showing impact, improving services
  • Data
    • Technical aspects of data management
    • Assets, collection, quality, interoperability
  • Leadership
    • Engagement with data from senior, strategic and business leadership
    • Strategy, responsibility, oversight, investment
  • Culture
    • Attitudes to data across the organisation
    • Awareness, openness, security, responsibility
  • Tools
    • Systems and tools for storing, sharing, and using data
  • Skills
    • Data and analytical literacy across the organisation
    • Offering development opportunities.


As well as being the areas that an assessment looks at, these are all potential areas for improvement within your organisation. Only by completing an assessment will you understand how to realise the value of your data within these six themes.

Going beyond the assessment

The DMA itself can bring about immediate insights. You’ll start new conversations and get people thinking about the organisation’s digital capabilities. You might uncover hidden problems that wouldn’t have come to light otherwise. And you could find new opportunities for quick wins, whether that’s streamlining processes or improving data quality.

But for your assessment to have long-term impact, it needs to be part of a wider initiative. For example, as outlined in the Lunch & Learn, the four key deliverables from an assessment completed by Civica are:

  • The assessment itself. The exercise gives you a much clearer picture of how your organisation collects, stores and uses data
  • A communications pack. It’s essential to share the findings and explain to stakeholders what actions they can take to improve
  • Targets and recommendations. While the assessment is valuable anyway, how data contributes to your business goals is the most important element of the exercise
  • Actionable roadmap. To deliver value, your data management roadmap shows you how and when to address areas of weakness.

It’s important to think of the project as a long-term commitment. A typical roadmap would be at least a year – as was the case when Civica worked with National Institute for Health and Care Excellence to develop a Data Management Strategy. However, often the roadmap might include multiple streams split across many years.

Many organisations need support to understand how to interpret the results of a DMA. That’s where a specialist external partner can help. Think of it like getting a blood test – you could potentially do it yourself and send it off to a lab to get the raw data. But an experienced doctor will be so much better at translating that data into recommendations.

Thinking about next steps

Regardless of whether you complete it yourself or with an external data expert, the assessment should be seen as an intelligence-gathering exercise, not an end goal. When deciding on the form of your assessment, always keep in mind what your organisation hopes to achieve.

Every DMA is unique. There are no right or wrong answers. The real differentiator is what you do next after you’ve completed your assessment.

Learn more  about how we are helping to deliver the public sector services of the future. Or, if you would like to find out what we are discussing in our next Lunch & Learn take a look at our Lunch & Learn schedule here.

White paper uncovers perceived progress against government's strategy

We surveyed nearly 600 civil servants across government to assess how acquainted respondents were with the government's strategy. 
Download this white paper to learn about how much progress has been made against the roadmap's six missions and gain insight into views on data use and application.

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