Digital maturity framework

Digital maturity is a measure of how ready an organisation is to digitally transform.

Fifteen competencies are evaluated on the level between 1 and 5 to produce the organisation’s digital maturity score using the Digital Maturity Test. The test works best when it’s completed by Digital Leads and their colleagues as it then captures different perspectives in the organisation.

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Digital maturity competencies in detail


When thinking about digital transformation we looked at fifteen organisational competencies that are essential for embedding Digital in an organisational strategy and operations.

These competencies fit under the building blocks of a digital strategy framework (summarised in the digital strategy house below.

Digital maturity is a measure of how ready an organisation is to digitally transform.

How each of the competencies impact on the success of a digital transformation programme is briefly described below. 


Culture & Attitude

With the development and mainstreaming of Digital across organisations and the increased investment in this area, many Digital Leads (the person in your organisation who is responsible for digital delivery or digital strategy), find themselves spearheading a wider and necessary organisational change process, triggered by these changes.

However, Senior Management often do not realise the extent of these changes and the support that might be required by Digital Leads to guide the organisation through them.

The change triggered by digital transformation is indeed transformative - it changes how things used to be done, it requires new behaviours, new skills, new systems and new technology.

Process of digital transformation starts once it becomes clear that in order to remain relevant in the world where Digital is changing how people live their lives - learn, socialise, seek help, find information - organisations need to update their ways of working, skills and technology.

L1. Scepticism: Colleagues try to avoid dealing with anything digital

L2. Respect: Colleagues happy that specialists deal with digital - expect little involvement.

L3. Participation: Org understands the value and wants to learn more.

L4. Inclusion: Key to org success, incorporated into most thinking.

L5. Evangelism Integral to the mission. Organisation keeps up with change.


Communications planning 

In order to get best value out of Digital, organisations need to integrate planning under the same brand (in order to keep consistency across different channels) and become audience* centric in how they make planning decisions (in order to successfully engage audiences where they are). 

When this isn’t the case, disparate communications have varying levels of impact, some are successful, some bomb. 

Overall, this means that the effort put into communications/marketing initiatives are sometimes not strategic. Organisations are not learning from previous experience, understanding what works best for their audience and are not optimising future communications and programmes accordingly.

When organisations plan in an integrated and audience-centric way, communications reach and impact grows over time thanks to gradual improvements based on evidence.

* the word ‘audience’ is used to encompass all audiences non-profits can have: supporters, beneficiaries, clients, patients, donors, campaigners, media, government officials, politicians, companies, etc.

L1: No specific planning Digital used to promote existing comms.

L2: Consultative Digital advice sought on execution of comms work.

L3: Involved Digital is involved from the outset for most comms projects.

L4: Strategic Most comms are digital by default. Comms teams have advanced skills.

L5: Transformational Advanced digital approach embedded across comms - delivering big impact 


Audience Insight

Using audience insight when planning supporter and beneficiary/client engagement will ensure your organisation’s output is effective.

Once objectives in the strategic framework are identified, organisations invest in creating and collecting independent evidence of market trends to develop products and communications which will appropriately engage and deliver for target audiences. Insight is also gained from reports which measure the effectiveness of the work an organisation is delivering. All this information is used to inform planning.

L1: Sporadic insight Limited audience insight used by one or two teams.

L2: Growing insight Insight from multiple sources eg database and analytics, used by some teams.

L3: Insight process Processes developing around insight gathering and use.

L4: Insight in planning Audience insight used in shaping most work.

L5: Embedded insight All work grounded in rich, up to date audience insight.



Innovation starts with the question: Is there a solution in the digital world (technology, principles, insight) that will help me reach my organisation’s objective/resolve the problem we/supporters/beneficiaries are dealing with?

For example Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered support service on the website was a solution to the problem Arthritis Research UK (now called Versus Arthritis) had: “...[WE] were eager to serve a greater number of people and provide reliable information around the clock, but remained limited by personnel capacity.”

As such, innovation requires a willingness to take a leap of faith, invest, learn and keep improving on what’s being done (be it ways of working or a product). It’s also willingness to fail, an opportunity to learn and improve. Prototype, launch, learn, amend and try again.

L1: Unaffordable Not prioritised, not happening.

L2: Ad hoc Occasionally happens as part of existing projects.

L3: Co-ordinated Re-imagining of some smaller aspects of services or products.

L4: Strategic Structured innovation is transforming audience experience.

L5: Structural Formal innovation programme is creating organisational change.



Regular reporting against organisation Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) is a part of the management toolkit - data is used to measure the effectiveness of day-today operations to inform decision-making.

Through digital products and processes organisations can access a myriad of data. But often this data is held separately from traditional reports from Finance and Fundraising thus not offering a rounded picture of organisational performance. Or so called ‘vanity statistics’ are reported, such as Twitter followers/reach and Facebook likes/reach, which are regarded as of no serious value.

When planning is based on lessons from previous activity, organisations can learn and improve outcomes and impact of what they do. Sometimes small improvements over time can make a big change in outcomes. For example a better donation page layout can ensure that more potential donors finish off the process of donating, bringing in more money. Or providing additional channels of communication to beneficiaries increases the number of people an organisation can reach with its services.

L1. Some tactical KPIs eg web traffic but not used much by teams 

L2. Some testing & reporting: Some aspects (email/soc. media performance) reported but lessons not used.

L3. Aggregated reporting: Performance data used and joined up, but hard to access.

. Integrated reporting: Quick turn-around access to performance data - used in planning.

L5. Real-time reporting: Always available and used strategically across teams.



Data management is your 'way in' to understand behaviour of your audiences (supporters, beneficiaries, politicians) and to make both business and social impact decisions.

Understanding how audiences interact with an organisation, through which channels and how often (single customer view) will help organisation design an appropriate journey for that individual thus encouraging longer term engagement.

Collection and analysis of data - internal or from external sources - informs research.

Data on how different digital products are performing is essential for future planning. It can show how well the organisation is delivering its programme and/or services and can inform day-to-day decisions.

Ability to learn and plan with data is dependent on:

  • data quality - ensuring that data is clean and collected correctly

  • technology - which enables manipulation and reporting of data

L1: Chaotic Data in the org is scattered and largely for offline activity.

L2: Understood Data seen as important for the org. Quality and use improving in some areas.

L3: Developing Clear roadmap for data management. Integration and analysis underway.

L4: Data literate Quality, integrated data in use across much of the org.

L5: Data-driven Live data is used across of the org to shape decisions and performance.


Technology infrastructure 

In order to form a single view of a supporter/beneficiary, deliver personalised services and communications, new technology is needed. These technologies are about improving the performance, speed, user experience (both on staff and beneficiaries) and about generating better reporting leading to better understanding of how successfully current programmes or products are working.

The ability to upgrade and integrate technology platforms can require a daunting mix of long-term thinking, a willingness to invest and a commitment by all to use new technologies once they are acquired.

With technology change goes business process change in order to benefit from efficiencies created by automated processes. For example when team time is released from manually uploading data into supporter/client database, they can spend more time with clients/supporters.

Systems change doesn’t have to mean throwing everything old out and starting a new. Often new technology systems can be added, creating new business processes and developing new skills in staff.

L1: Primitive Manual or limited systems with no integration.

L2: Outdated System architecture is not keeping up with the needs of the organisation.

L3: Keeping up Systems stable and enabling the basic operation.

L4: Effective Systems clearly delivering improvements in productivity/effectiveness.

L5: Leading edge 21st century tools connected strategically



Investment in new technology is needed to enable the organisation to be more successful and efficient.

But just introducing new technology is not going to provide a solution. What’s also needed is:

  • leadership to show the path of development,

  • ways of working which help overcome culture of silos and encourage joint, cross-organisational planning

  • skills and training for staff

Sometimes the investment in planning needs to be as great as the investment in deploying the technology itself.

The assumption is that bigger budget an organisation has, more they can achieve. This is of course true but it’s not the only reason. How budget is being spent on digital products - staffing, technology, marketing etc, is also down to how a (limited) budget is being prioritised.

Some examples of investment with only a partial benefit:

  • an organisation more comfortable to spend money on a 20k a year PR contract, where they will most likely get a short-term publicity, than on a new website which is effectively a shop window to the organisation.

  • an organisation with limited staff budget recruits a fundraiser who only has experience with direct mail; a service support person who can’t use online meeting tools; a finance person who has no experience of online payment platforms.

L1: Survival Budget for basics only.

L2: Maintenance Budget supports maintenance of current set up but not growth.

L3: Testing Budget supports some improvements in priority areas.

L4: Creative & growth Budget supports digital thinking and delivery across key operations

L5: Sustainability & innovation Budget for evolution of digital operations improves organisation's impact.


Digital capacity

Over time digital skills and behaviours need to become a part of every job, whether this is acquired through recruitment or through staff development and training. This is what organisations need to do to be able to respond to the changes in the external market.

Related to skills and roles often the question emerges - where should Digital expertise ‘sit’ within an organisation with usual options being:

  • central team - a multiskilled team who delivers  digital strategy, technology and product

  • hub and spoke - central digital team designs and helps the implementation of digital processes and strategies (e.g. product management, recruitment, planning) while digital roles exist in different teams (digital fundraiser, digital campaigner, online supporter care, etc)

  • de-centralised - there is no digital team, relevant digital roles are embedded in each team, e.g. online development in IT, website editorial, online video in creative/communications team, analytics and reporting in data team, etc

The three models demonstrate levels of digital maturity an organisation needs to go through. In order for ‘hub and spoke’ or decentralised structures to work, the organisation needs to have a good set of processes (for planning, recruitment, evaluation), systems (for data, content, marketing) and an established  approach to digital product development. All these will most likely be developed by a central digital team over a period of time. Decentralising digital operation without these systems being in place will lead to patchy and siloed digital output.

While, in the longer term, Digital is seen as a given in every job and everything an organisation does, it will inevitably need strategic leadership by experienced specialists to support the organisation through the process of transforming itself in order to adjust to today’s marketplace.

L1: Lone wolf One person managing website, email or social No digital skills expected.

L2: Limited A few people managing basic digital functions.

L3: Digital Team Central team of digital specialists - some digital delivery in other teams.

L4: Digital function Senior technology lead and team with growing digital opportunities in other teams.

L5: Cross-org capability Senior technology leadership across the organisation with effective delivery teams.



Every job needs to include relevant digital skills. These are the skills which will enable the postholder to achieve their job’s objectives and in support of organisational objectives. For example, supporter care manager may be required to manage responses to supporters on social media, web chat as well and on email and on the phone.

And if the skillset can not be recruited, training and support should be provided to current staff.

Salary grades can be an obstacle for recruiting digital talent, especially if grades have not been reviewed with this change in job market in mind. While the right candidate will be the one motivated by an organisation’s mission rather than salary, they are unlikely to accept the position that’s paid considerably lower than the rest of the market.

L1: Digital essentials Focus on recruitment of basic digital skills, e.g. for website & social media maintenance. 

L2: Digital specialists Recruitment of basic digital roles to support main engagement products.

L3: Digital generalists Basic digital roles and some satellite digital roles.

L4: Digital differentiation Strategic digital roles & digital skills included in other roles as a standard.

L5: Digital control Digital skills development, systematic support for teams. New recruits all digitally capable.


Learning & Development

Learning and development is essential for an organisation to become truly digital. Once digital skills & behaviours needed for different roles are identified, a training programme needs to be developed to support staff, managers and members of the Board to enable longer-term transition to a digitally transformed organisation.

Often Digital Leads in organisations are either not skilled, given enough time, or positioned in the organisational hierarchy to support the leadership in managing change triggered by an all-round digital implementation. It is therefore essential to invest in the development of digital experts into digital leaders to help guide the organisation through digital transformation.

L1: Essential skill-sharing Digital experts try to teach others ad-hoc. Training budget is very small.

L2: Building digital literacy Small budget for basic digital skills in digital expert roles.

L3: Digital skills normalised Org-wide digital training as a part of org's L&D priorities. 

L4: Multi-layered learning Digital upskilling is a priority for all. Teams understand their role in the digital change. 

L5: A digital culture Led on by HR and L&D digital skills & behaviours devt. in all roles.



In order to be strategic about Digital one needs to draw on confidence gained through practice.

Digital leadership is demonstrated by a leader who understands the digital ecosystem, can identify how Digital will contribute to an organisation’s strategy and builds trust and motivation amongst colleagues so together they make the digital vision a reality.

A leader doesn’t need to understand how technology works to lead digital change. They can lead by relying on the advice and expertise of staff. This may need building up of soft/leadership skills of junior staff so they can operate on this level or bringing in external expertise to support leaders and teams in the process of change.

L1: Invisible No clear digital leadership within the organisation.

L2: Deferential Digital lead exists at manager level. Delivers work but doesn’t influence strategy.

L3: Supported Digital lead creates digital strategy but focused on operational delivery.

L4: Collaborative Senior digital lead exists, and leadership is seen as a shared responsibility.

L5: Leading Digital leadership at all levels shapes and drives org strategy forward.


Service/Programme delivery

Delivery of services/programmes is increasingly moving online. This provides efficiency (e.g.  ability to provide tailored information 24/7) as well as access to target audiences (e.g. younger people, mobile phone population).

Often face-to-face service delivery can be supported by technology. For example, delivering a training via video conferencing or creating an online journey that provides triage so that people get right face-to-face support, more quickly.

Introduction of technology solutions into service delivery enables regular reporting & analysis of service delivery, enabling day-to-day management decisions, forecasting and business planning.

L1: Basic Support on website.

L2: Cross-channel Some experimentation w digital service delivery across channels.

L3: Online support Digital services considered equal to traditional ones in planning and strategy.

L4: Integrated Digital fully integrated into service delivery and leading in some areas of support.

L5: Digitised & impactful Digital service offer mature and delivering untapped reach and impact.


Staff experience

How staff go about doing their jobs will impact on the effectiveness of the organisation and its operations. Digital technology provides many solutions to improve collaboration, knowledge-sharing and administration, especially where staff is working in different locations.

Staff uses technologies in their private lives and, sometimes, this is more sophisticated and efficient than technologies used in the office. Too often staff is spending time on tasks that can be automated, which often leads to frustration.

Changes in how organisations communicate with audiences will lead to changes in business processes and require new/different technology and skills. The introduction of new systems needs to happen gradually, in collaboration with staff but with the audience experience as the main guide.

L1: Inefficient No systems or will to digitise.

L2: Inconsistent Many unconnected systems, some not user-friendly.

L3: Unstrategic Many good tools available, some support to use them. Mixed response to them.

L4: Effective Investment in connected systems that clearly improve staff experience.

L5: Efficiency & learning Systems are connected & continually evolving. Staff supported in using them.


Product/project management

Often, the tendency is to look at technology and then try to find a problem that it could solve.

It is important to start by identifying the biggest issues in service delivery first. Only then is it worth looking if they can be addressed by creating digital solutions which will make process easier and more efficient from the user point of view. Then follow the best practice cycle of product delivery - prototype, launch, learn, amend and try again.

L1: Inconsistent Projects are managed differently by different teams. No common approach.

L2: Basic Some common project management principles. Agile work only through some digital projects.

L3: Slow progress Most products managed through a structured but lengthy process. Small Agile experiments.

L4: Developing Agile principles and practice used in digital teams. More of product launch, test & improve approach.

L5: Impact Principles of digital product management used in all projects types to improve effi ciency and impact

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