Registers of Scotland on redefining digital culture and customer-centricity

Registers of Scotland is responsible for keeping public registers of land, property, and other legal documents in Scotland. The organisation, which is committed to always being transparent and customer-focused, is on an evolving digital journey that is taking them away from restrictive technologies and legacy systems to embrace new ways of working. 

Paul Christie, Head of IT Enablement at RoS, shares how they navigated this journey - and the lessons learnt along the way.

The challenge 

RoS is a cornerstone of the Scottish economy, overseeing 21 public registers – most notably as the guardian for land and property registers. As the organisation responsible for compiling and maintaining Scottish property records and legal documents, their registers are a critical asset for the Scottish economy to make important, data-driven decisions about land and property.   

RoS aimed to optimise and scale its legacy record-keeping systems toPaul-Christie enhance efficiency, bolster data accuracy and security, and accommodate growth. To do so, they needed to address challenges such as managing systemic technical debt and navigating the initial stages of digital transformation to move to from an outsourced IT model and establish an in-house digital powerhouse.  

As Christie, explains: “We didn’t have the concept of release pipelines embedded within the business. We didn't have the skills, the technology, structure, the practices, or the culture to underpin the ambition the organisation had.” 

How could RoS prioritise value, implement agile changes, and overcome entrenched project management methodologies? Their goal was clear: to pivot towards a product and service-centric delivery model and surmount the technical debt barriers, maximising their agility and innovation potential in service of the citizens of Scotland. 

The approach 

Registers of Scotland partnered with Emergn for self-sustained growth, and to integrate their Value, Flow, Quality (VFQ) principles and product management strategies into the Scottish Body's IT enablement team.

This collaboration aimed to establish new working methodologies, moving away from technology discipline orientated, finite, project teams, to the creational of end-to-end delivery of enduring service teams.

Leveraging Emergn's organisational and technical expertise, RoS successfully implemented a framework for efficient ownership of their digital services, with continuous improvement and delivery embedded within their departmental ethos. Additionally, the adoption of modern technology practises, such as continuous integration/delivery, allowed RoS to enhance resilience and facilitate regular, seamless technology upgrades. 

Emergn played a pivotal role through direct integration within RoS digital enablement teams, senior leadership coaching, and employee training. As their agile expertise matured, Emergn shifted from hands-on to an advisory and continuous learning role.

This evolution was complemented by quarterly budgets directly tied to portfolio planning, ensuring alignment with customer and organisational value. Continuous feedback loops were established to assess uncertainty in product releases, empowering confident decisions by the RoS Investment Board. This transformative shift marked a significant move from a culture of certainty to one of discovery and experimentation. 

As Christie describes it: “We embraced a fail-fast culture, enabling Registers of Scotland to ensure that true value realisation was embedded within our initiatives.” 

Outside of the IT enablement function, the RoS team developed a delivery approach via multidisciplinary teams brigaded around common goals to support innovation and product sustainability. 

Key milestones  

RoS released the Scotland Land Information Service (ScotLIS), a digital platform for land and property data, and the Digital Submissions Service which streamlined property transactions—especially crucial during the Covid-19-induced property market challenges. Both services are award-winning pillars for RoS. 

Christie concludes: "We have realised the power in harmonising technology with product-centricity and multidisciplinary teams, founded on core principles around agile ways of working. As a digital business, we have achieved that delicate equilibrium of delivery vs ability to delivery.” 

Beyond technology

Registers of Scotland’s transformation went beyond technology, emphasising a progressive organisational culture. Recognising the importance of sustaining product-focused teams for digital aspirations, and with Emergn's support, RoS initiated and continued this journey. 

This transformation showcases the evolution of traditional institutions in the digital age, underscoring collaboration, agile methodologies, and customer-centricity.  

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