18 October, 2019

Digital Government Transformation Blueprint: HM Land Registry

Brilliant at the Basics: HM Land Registry

The building block of successful digital transformation is customer-centric case management, with measurable outcomes defined in terms they value as the definition of success.

An exemplar case study is HM Land Registry. Documenting their digital strategy plan here, they share their experiences of digital transformation and their future plans for innovation.

This can form a general digital transformation template model for other government agencies. It’s an concrete baseline for a maturity model building reference case study, particularly as their headline theme of ‘Brilliant at the Basics’ is ideal for characterizing the first step on the ladder.

Case Management Digitization %

The Land Registry case workers process 20,000 applications per day, with 650,000 received via post annually. Via a set of ‘Customer Targets’ they specify KPIs for the response rate levels expected of them for handling these, as well as ultimately a customer satisfaction rating for doing so.

Similarly they also state ‘Digital Targets’ for their performance goals in a second main area of focus of digital innovations, such as defining a metric of ‘we will average at least 99.6% availability for external e-services during published service hours’. The basic building block of Digital Government is the digitization of core business workflows like these claims, and the Registry reported an 81% level of automation in 2016, with a target of achieving 95% by 2022.

Having detailed Case Management targets like the Land Registry is thus the ideal end state of a basic level of digital maturity, it provides the foundation for then building atop with more dynamic innovations.

Digital Innovations

With this in mind they also state ‘Digital Targets’ for their performance goals in a second main area of focus of digital innovations – What might they offer in the future that they don’t currently, and how might this benefits their customers and ‘disrupt’ their sector?

Digital Targets build on the previous KPIs, such as defining a metric of ‘we will average at least 99.6% availability for external e-services during published service hours’.

It also identifies specific technological advances and the new digital services they might make possible, for example launching ‘the Digital Mortgage service to create, sign and register a mortgage for approved partners‘.

A key component of this focus is the inclusion of specific key technology trends, most notably Open Data and the Blockchain. Highlighting that:

“HM Land Registry holds a rich variety of publishable data of potential interest to individuals, customers, governments, lawyers, conveyancers and financial institutions. Every plot of registered land has a unique register title with corresponding number and plan. Information stored relates to people, places, rights and restrictions.”

the Land Registry describes how they publish a number of open data sets and highlights the essential dynamic, how these enable new digital services, such as MapSearch.

Other data sets include Price Paid Data and monthly Transaction Data, as well as the UK House Price Index.

Digital Street 2030

This all culminates towards their pinnacle digital initiative ‘Digital Street’, “groundbreaking research that is exploring how land registration might work in 2030”, and is also how they express their highest stretch target of pioneering a world-class capability:

“We will then apply real-life scenarios to demonstrate how a fully geospatially enabled digital register might revolutionise future property transactions, including using Blockchain technology, putting HM Land Registry at the forefront of global land registration innovation.”

Digital Street is a new prototype registry that will enable this new real-time, machine-readable information platform.

The goals are to harness AI and other emergent tech and apply them towards impacts like improving the conveyancing process. Here is where they see the potential for Blockchain in particular:

“New technologies such as Blockchain might enable the register to be distributed among trusted parties such as lenders and conveyancers, giving them the ability to operate and update in a secure and tamper-proof manner. We will explore the benefits of this alternative approach to managing a digital land register.”

Digital Business Model Canvas

Their digital plan also outlines how to build a ‘digital business model canvas’ – Before web sites and code the team should have a clear understanding of the who, what and how of the new digital services.

This is an ideal early ‘forming’ process of bringing a team together, and can be populated from landscape reviews of what other similar organizations are doing. For example comparable initiatives include the Future Cities Catapult Land Information Platform, and in Estonia E-Estonia e-land register.

A key section to review is on page 14 where they describe their approach to exploring and formulating a customer/partner segmentation framework for expressing these as ‘digital ecosystems’, such as clustering groups like FinTech, LawTech and PropTech. Jargonistic yes but actually very helpful for populating a business model canvas and planning related activities.

The primary ‘value chain’ built atop the Land Registry is naturally all related processes: Conveyancing, property building, property selling, .. etc. This implements particular workflows across those defined groups and there is no doubt there is still much opportunity for better digital services between them. Digital business model canvas planning is the ideal way to draw out these service ideas.

Identity-Enabled Digital Services

What’s immediately notable is the involvement of Identity technologies too, the two are practically inseparable.

For example this enabling role of new digital service innovations is effectively highlighted in the UK Government’s HM Land Registry digital business plan, in which they describe a future intention of:

“We will continue to enhance and expand our existing e-enabled services, such as our innovative Digital Mortgage service that uses secure identity assurance techniques to enable a customer to sign their mortgage deed digitally. Across all stages of digital service development, the needs of the user and a drive for speed and simplicity will be at the heart of our design.

    • we will launch a Developer service to provide a digital online lodgement and approval of estate plans and template leases and transfers.
    • we will launch a Digital Transfer service to create, sign and register a transfer of a registered title.”

Business Secretary Greg Clark believes these Digital Mortgages could help reduce fraud.

The role of Identity highlights services / organizations such as Gov.UK Verify. For example in this PropertySolvers article the author explores the scenario, in particular noting the HM Land Registry ambitions:

“Graham Farrant, chief executive and chief land registrar at the HMLR reported on testing the Sign Your Mortgage Deed service for remortgaging homeowners.

The mortgage deed will be produced and signed as part of a largely disintermediated digital conveyance process legitimately recorded at the Land Registry. Identity assurance will be provided by the GOV.UK Verify service.”


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