Community Forum — Live assessment

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) Community forum has been well received by the community and has seen a significant growth in the lead up to and as a result of Tax time 2018. The agile process will enable the product team to continue to refine and enhance the service throughout its life. The ATO Community forum has also demonstrated how ATO is transforming the client experience. The Assessment panel congratulates the team on their commitment and adherence to the Digital Service Standard and the spirit with which the requirements were applied.

Criteria 1: Understand user needs 

The project team have continued to demonstrate their commitment to understanding user needs through ongoing engagement with users and enhancement considerations to meet new and emerging user needs.

The project team have an ongoing engagement strategy which will ensure the forum continues to be an effective engagement tool. 

Criteria 2: Have a multidisciplinary team 

Most of the project team members will transition to business as usual roles to support the ATO Community Forum. The project manager is working with the new product owner to transition the product into business as usual. The project manager will continue to be involved until the transition is complete. 

Criteria 3: Agile and user-centred process

By go live assessment date, the team had implemented a significant number of enhancements to the ATO Community Forum which has resulted in a service offering greater than the minimum viable product. The project team are continually looking for enhancements and ways the service can be used to better support interactions with ATO. 

Criteria 4: Understand tools and systems 

A recommendation from the Beta assessment was to automate the data transfer between the platform host and the ATO systems.

Consistent with this recommendation, the team have worked with the platform host to ensure the ATO is able to obtain all information and statistical assessment information via an automated process.  Regular audits on technical delivery have been set up to ensure data transfers continue to occur. In addition, contingency measures have been put in place to ensure ATO is able to receive the information should the automation process fail.

Criteria 5: Make it secure 

The team continue to moderate and review content posted to the ATO Community Forum. In addition to measures which block sensitive information from being published, alerts are on every ‘posting page’ to remind users not to share sensitive information. If required, the team remove sensitive information from the site as early as practical. To date, there has only been one occasion where this has been necessary and this occurred in the early stages of Beta public phase.

A process is in place to ensure the platform host will provide ATO with information relating to any privacy and IT security measures changes when they occur. This will enable ATO to assess the changes against ATO’s IT and data security requirements and ensure privacy requirements are met.

Criteria 6: Consistent and responsive design 

The team have continued to demonstrate an iterative and responsive design process by showcasing changes to the service based on user feedback. Additionally, the team demonstrated how they are managing the tool to ensure peer-to-peer conversations remain the focus and its value is not diluted by ATO driving the content or questions asked.

In addition to the platform being accessed using multiple devices and web browsers, the team demonstrated how the tool is able to be utilised by emerging technology (such as Google Assistant).

Criteria 7: Use open standards and common platforms

Throughout the Alpha, Beta and Live stages, the team have continued to demonstrate their use of open standards and common services. 

Criteria 8: Make source code open

As noted in the Beta assessment, as a commercial product has been chosen, the ability to make the source code open is restricted as per the licencing agreement.

Criteria 9: Make it accessible

The outstanding changes needed to ensure WCAG 2.0 AA requirements that were identified as part of the Beta assessment have now been incorporated by the vendor.  The team demonstrated how ATO Community Forum meets these requirements. Additionally, the Senior Accountable Officer has been active in ensuring that this criteria continues to be met. The team have commenced investigations to understand additional accessibility requirements that may be required to meet the new WCAG 2.1 standards published on 5 June 2018.

Criteria 10: Test the service

User testing has been conducted continually throughout the Alpha, Beta and Live stages. This involved in-person usability testing with people from various backgrounds and digital literacy. Additionally, user testing included testing the service in remote and rural locations. Feedback logged as a result of the user testing has been incorporated. The project team were able to demonstrate the ATO Community Forum to be a robust and reliable service.

Criteria 11: Measure performance

The ATO Community Forum has seen a significant increase in users as a result of the beginning of Tax Time 2018, with almost 10,000 unique visitors in a single day and 150,000 unique visitors in July 2018. Also in July 2018, the ATO Community forum was also viewed in 1.05 million Google search results with a click through rate of 14.5% (industry average is 2%).  This increase in unique visitors, completion rate and digital up-take demonstrates the service is meeting the needs of the community not met by other communication and engagement channels. 

The team continue to measure against DTA’s four KPI measurements and publish results on the Performance Dashboard.

Criteria 12: Don’t forget the non-digital experience 

The project team have demonstrated how the ATO Community Forum works with and complements other digital and non-digital channels.  Additionally, the project manager outlined the research underway to provide a holistic digital experience across the ATO. 

Criteria 13: Encourage everyone to use the digital service 

The project team outlined the work underway to integrate ATO Community Forum as a support option in existing marketing and communication activities rather than stand alone promotions. A significant increase in unique visitors in June and July helps to demonstrate the success of marketing and communication work already underway.

Get involved with the ATO community


Community Forum Performance Dashboard

Assessment against the Digital Service Standard

Criterion Result
1 Pass
2 Pass
3 Pass
4 Pass
5 Pass
6 Pass
7 Pass
8 Pass
9 Pass
10 Pass
11 Pass
12 Pass
13 Pass