Digital Vision and Strategy – Charity

“DWG provided the necessary strategic, technical, and programme expertise to enable WVUK to lay the foundations for a robust coherent way forward to deliver an essential step change in our digital capabilities. This will enhance our operational and outward-facing effectiveness overall.”

Director of Strategy – John Greaves

World Vision UK is an international charity devoted to improving the lives of the most vulnerable children, families and their communities around the world. Working across almost 100 countries united in a mission to overcome poverty, inequality and injustice.

“My appointment is a direct consequence of the gaps in World Vision UK’s strategic capability & readiness which DWG identified, and provided crucial expertise on an interim basis.”

CIO – Martin Campbell

Their Story

World Vision had already created a high-level global strategy, focused on delivering five key imperatives.

World Vision UK had created a localised UK application of this strategy which was aligned with global objectives but focused on UK-specific deliverables.

They had set out some of the big ‘enablers’ for those imperatives to be successful. One of these enablers was ‘digital’. Digital Works Group were brought in to look at the digital component and to help build a unified digital strategy across the UK organisation.

While there was a focus on the top five strategic imperatives and the aspirational causes of World Vision UK, there was an identified gap with the digital enablement, and how digital could support the whole organisation. There were high-level statements, but the initial digital view was fragmented with little detail in place.

The challenge World Vision UK faced was that the digital plan touched everything – essentially digital was potentially ‘under the skin’ of many of the services – but was not formally recognised in terms of the central role it could play. As a consequence of this, the technology team were flooded with multiple requests from different imperatives, but these had not been joined up, mapped against a unified strategy and prioritised.

World Vision UK needed a unified, digital-first strategy – one that would bring together the fragmented plans and support the overall strategic imperatives of the business, so the greatest value could be achieved from the investment they were making.

  • A digital vision needed to be evolved for the senior leadership team, so high-level aspirations & guidelines could be set for the delivery teams.
  • The profile of digital projects needed to be raised, and their importance understood – addressing any cultural barriers would be essential for successful digital change.
  • There needed to be agreement around long term technical and data architecture.
  • The strategy needed to be measurable – both in terms of how it would be delivered and the target business outcomes.
  • The high-level budgeting needed to address the true cost of the digital spend – what would it take to make it happen and did it make sense?
  • They needed to ensure the right people, with the right skills, were empowered to deliver and address any capability gaps.
  • Relationships with strategic partners and the suppliers needed review.

The influence of digital technology on end-users is dramatic, leading to radical changes in behaviour and expectations. All companies should understand their customers are more demanding, impatient, informed and empowered than ever before. They are looking for things on multiple devices, with end-to-end experiences that are relevant, personalised, and without disjointed issues.

Customers now walk away from what they are doing if it does not instantly make sense. They will tell the world if it is a bad or boring experience. That one-way process – I am a company, and I will tell you is dead.

At Digital Works, we are a great believer in helping organisations to help themselves. The first step is usually focused on digital education.

World Vision UK needed to understand ‘digital’, its relative importance to them and the critical role it would play in meeting their strategic objectives. Distilling this knowledge at the highest level in the senior leadership team was essential.

Instead of simply telling World Vision what we would do to address their digital challenge, we assessed what we could see against our 9 critical success factors for digital transformation and created a mirror review. This was a snapshot that would let the senior leadership team know how ready the organisation was to address digital change and what they would need to address to move themselves up the digital transformation curve.

We applied our Customer Experience-Led methodology, following very well-defined stages.

Within the first five days, we had created a clear and detailed project plan and project team (from DWG and HMA), iterating the process. Working out all of the actions needed, against the methodology and who would do them.

The review followed our tried and tested change framework we deploy to help clients enable change and make it smoother and quicker. The pyramid consists of a combination of 9 critical success factors.

We used this framework to grade their readiness for change in terms of digital enablement. We identified that although much progress had already been made, there were many gaps. We also identified that they had better operational than strategic readiness. This is a common issue that many organisations face.

Strategy and vision sit at the top and should be the first step that any organisation should take before it develops its change plan. The vision allows organisations to identify and communicate who they aspire to be, set their objectives and targets and provide them with a company-wide focus and road-map for how they are going to get there.

World Vision UK already had a strongly-led cross-functional integrated strategy realisation programme in place. Still, there was a need to re-prioritise some existing digital projects and add in new ones to ensure they were focused on the right things. This also led to an understanding of the internal capabilities required and confidence that this would deliver meaningful business benefit.

Firstly we made sure we were clear on the definition of customer experience. We then started on a customer experience audit. We cut the audit into two steps:

  • Firstly, the flow – the processes that your customer moves through as they do things.
  • Secondly, looking at features that fit within that framework – the proposition or pricing, for example.

A large proportion of digital-related activity had already been prioritised based on the wider strategy realisation by individual imperatives, and there were volumes of tactical spend underway as part of BAU activity. These also needed to be reviewed and given a relative priority against the bigger picture, particularly if they had an impact on the digital roadmap. Senior Management also permitted to say NO or to postpone things which made logical sense to deliver in later phases.

Operationally – and this is typical of many larger organisations – World Vision UK struggled to be joined up across different departments. Teams, who were all equally passionate about the same cause, often worked in silos that dealt with different parts of the supporter journey. This often made the organisation appear disjointed and, at times, could hamper a unified view of the strategy.World Vision’s digital platforms needed to be optimised and joined up – ideally pointing to one digital funnel where everything converges that also works seamlessly with non-digital channels.

World Vision UK wanted to shift towards a ‘supporter experience’ focus as opposed to isolated outcome-based deliveries. To clearly understand how the changes would impact the supporter and whether the product roadmap was consistent and clear, we conducted several workshops to look at the end-to-end aspirational journeys.These ranged from reach; getting people to notice World Vision UK in an online world and getting excited about its cause, through to attracting and lead nurture via all the available channels (website, direct sales experience or a retail environment) and then on to signup, going live and in-life experiences of sponsorship and non-sponsorship products.

Culturally this was a shift in focus. While there was a sense that this exercise had ‘already been done before’ and it hadn’t had an impact, we looked at things through a different lens, mapping the aspirational journeys, rather than simply looking at the existing journeys. Then we worked back from that point to identify how we would deliver that aspiration – identifying the capabilities, systems and processes needed to support the vision.

All the separate digital projects and activity already in motion needed to be accounted for and included in the digital road-map – even if it was a budgeted ‘business-as-usual’ piece of work.

Some business case documents existed, but they were complex and in different depths and formats. We introduced a new way of working with a straightforward ‘one-page’ change request form for stakeholders to log the activity they wanted on the road-map. The one-pager outlined the key requirements and stakeholders were asked to include a simple business case and link to strategic objectives and value drivers. These were graded and weighted. For example, the activities that had a significant impact on ‘increasing supporter growth’ or ‘supporting vulnerable children’ were weighted highly and pushed to the top.

Understandably stakeholders want to ‘get on’ with the tactical projects which they already have a green light for. Many found it difficult to take a step back and consider why they are doing certain activities and ask if it is still the right thing to do in the context of everything else – especially if it is already in motion.

This process allowed us to identify the activities with the biggest impact, as well as prioritising the tactical elements we could bring forward and add into the strategy without bringing existing delivery streams to a standstill.

The ‘bottom-up’ list of projects in motion was combined with the Customer Journey requirements and the ‘top-down’ elements agreed by the World Vision UK senior leadership team (SLT) to create a hybrid view of capabilities, a consolidated plan and a proposed priority linked to organisational value drivers.

A strong operational experience was required to round up a total view of all the activity that needed to happen, how much it was going to cost, and where it touched the digital stack.

All of the deliverables were consolidated into themes and scheduled by quarter into a single digital roadmap according to priorities agreed with SLT and senior stakeholders.

This engagement was an excellent demonstration of a trigger for stage two of your digital transformation evolution.

The next challenge was to get that repurposed digital enabler plan and roadmap agreed by the SLT.

Critically, this now included a true reflection of the collective digital spend. Up to this point, no one had seen the combined digital spend or understood the significance of a unified digital platform to their strategic objectives.

Seeing this view marked an important milestone for the SLT. They realised that if they wanted to keep their foot on the ‘digital pedal’ everyone had to get behind a unified digital vision.

A vision statement was created, which summarised the main themes that the organisation was going to work on. This became an endorsed document to be cascaded down to the whole organisation. The importance of this consolidated view with SLT support cannot be underestimated. Failure to get the whole business on board is often what causes digital transformation efforts to fail. This was a critical leap forward for World Vision UK.

World Vision UK wanted to keep up the trust and momentum to start to deliver on the digital strategy even though key roles were not in place.

DWG was able to step in on a new engagement and bridge the existing talent gaps until they were able to recruit a permanent CIO and a Head of Digital Change.

DWG assisted with Programme Governance and digital change management until they were able to hand over to the new team as well as supplying ad-hoc support with vendor management, conversion rate optimisation and other digital marketing support as and when required. The details of this are not covered in this case study.

Need help?

Keep up to date with us or find out more about how we can help you.

Sign Up!

Keep updated with our Digital Digest for proven digital transformation advice and resources – blogs, interviews, webinars, guides and more.

Let’s talk, I
have a project

Speak to us about our deep digital expertise, end-to-end services, and proven methods.


Strategy Development


Strategy, Leadership & Innovation