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Revitalizing Bhutan's GST System

Agile Transformation for Enhanced Government Services

This case study outlines the Bhutanese government's transition to an agile framework for implementing the Goods and Services Tax (GST) system. Facing delays and inefficiencies with traditional methods, the agile approach introduced improved transparency, accountability, and a more adaptable project management process, significantly enhancing service delivery.

Agile Transformation for Bhutan’s GST Implementation

In Bhutan, the Department of Revenue and Customs (DRC), in collaboration with Thimphu TechPark Limited (TTPL), faced significant challenges while implementing a proprietary IT system to manage the new Goods and Services Tax (GST). The project was crucial for mobilising internal revenue and aiding economic recovery efforts post-COVID-19 but was struggling under the conventional waterfall model.

Challenges Faced

Bhutan, while experiencing rapid economic growth, has an emerging IT capacity that is in its early stages. The project suffered from several setbacks:

  • Inefficient Project Management Model: The waterfall approach was proving ineffective, causing delays in the GST registration and lodgement phases.
  • Lack of Clarity and Accountability: There was a significant transparency issue within teams, and it was challenging to determine bottlenecks or track progress effectively.
  • Underdeveloped IT Infrastructure: The country's IT infrastructure was not fully developed, posing additional challenges in implementing a robust GST system.

Strategic Solutions Implemented by Capability Wise

Led by Managing Director Matt Lewis and Senior Consultant Jared Cane, Capability Wise introduced the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) to restructure the project management approach:

  • Comprehensive Agile Training: We conducted two stages of SAFe training; the first for senior leaders and the second for team members, facilitating a shift to an agile mindset.
  • Program Increment Planning: We initiated three Program Increment (PI) planning sessions, helping to outline the project’s objectives and ensure alignment with business goals.
  • Ongoing Agile Coaching: Our experts provided continuous support through regular team ceremonies, including standups, scrum of scrums, and system demos, to maintain momentum and guide the teams towards effective delivery practices.

Outcomes and achievements

The introduction of agile practices revolutionised the GST system implementation in Bhutan:

Enhanced Team Performance and Efficiency

Teams became more agile, adapting to changes quickly and addressing challenges effectively, which led to timely deliveries.

Increased Transparency and Accountability

With clearer communication channels and regular updates, the project’s progress became more visible, allowing for better management and accountability.

Successful Delivery of Key Project Components

The project achieved significant milestones, including the deployment of a functioning GST registration system and integration with the national ledger.

Conclusion and Invitation

The agile transformation facilitated by Capability Wise not only advanced the GST implementation project but also built a foundation for continuous improvement within Bhutan’s IT practices. This case study is a testament to how adopting agile methodologies can overcome significant challenges in government digital transformation projects.

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