The complex nature of public sector organisations, combined with their sheer scale, means historically it has been more difficult for them to innovate.

In recent years, as with much of the defence sector, the Royal Navy has embarked on an internal digital transformation journey with several large initiatives building the Navy’s digital capabilities. The Royal Navy’s ambition is to be a fully digital organisation by 2025.

With a mission to improve the adoption of digital throughout the Royal Navy, one of the developments pushing this along is employee engagement tool, MyNavy. The app is designed to improve retention, streamline processes, and enhance the lived experience for all Navy personnel, reservists, Royal Fleet Auxiliary and civil servants.

Taking a highly collaborative approach, the MyNavy app was developed by digital program partner Great State who worked closely with senior product owner, Lt Cdr Morgan (Mogsy) Long, and stakeholders across the Navy. Adopting a ‘one team’ mindset was essential to ensure a shared understanding and alignment with wider priorities, with Great State receiving input from hundreds of Navy personnel to truly understand their situation and pain points.

Great State identified three core pillars to base all experiences on: utility, empowerment and personalisation. These were used to guide the decision-making process – from adding additional services through to the smallest interaction – with the aim to allow people to take greater control of their Navy lives, so they feel valued and recognised.

MyNavy enables the Navy to have a deeper understanding of individuals helping to stay ahead of emerging challenges and requirements and become a far more engaging employer. For example, one such feature within MyNavy is the Leadership Centre of Excellence, which provides a new way for personnel to access learning and development artifacts, empowering the user to take control. Here they can find hours of podcasts, videos and articles to help develop their leadership style, view the steps needed for promotion, hone areas of individual development or access support relating to relationships, diversity and wellbeing. This is a new form of learning in an organisation where training and development is typically prioritised by role and rank. The Centre of Excellence is about enabling access to best content so that everyone can learn on their terms, ultimately it has transformed how the Navy’s people can access resource from the palm of their hand.

Reinventing hundreds of years of tradition

For a geographically dispersed, mobile workforce who aren’t sat at a desk every day, manual analogue ways of working were a source of great frustration for Navy personnel.

One of the main priorities for the MyNavy app to address was the centuries old uniform ordering process which saw new recruits and personnel having to collect uniform from a stores warehouse or collection office, often in an inconvenient location or even at a different base. Ordering kit had long been a pain point for personnel owing to manual processes and confusion around sizing, availability, and collection, causing frustration and wasting valuable time.

Developed at pace in a 12-week period for both the Royal Navy and the RAF, a digital uniform click-and-collect service was created allowing individuals to browse a catalogue of clothing on the app and place orders for clothing from one of the on-base clothing stores run by logistics support. This project was about driving change quickly, not always possible in this sector, and creating a service that can be constantly iterated and improved based on user feedback and requirements.

To date, the Navy has had thousands of orders processed through this new digital service with 91% of survey respondents stating that the service had improved their experience. The aim: to save time, reduce friction, and free up capacity to allow personnel to spend time on more impactful work.

MyNavy doesn’t stand still. It is constantly iterating and improving based on user feedback, with the ability to add new applications. There are three new key features currently in the design process and due to be delivered later this year.

Positive digital adoption

The MyNavy app is available to over 40,000 Navy personnel with more than 168,000 monthly visits – meaning more than 70% of serving personnel are regularly using it. With 84% coming from smartphones, it is designed to work in low data or bandwidth areas and to use local connectivity services. It has been accessed in 27 different countries worldwide, allowing the Royal Navy to dramatically accelerate business transformation and constantly deliver new services at pace.

MyNavy is not only significant because of its ability to retain and manage talent more effectively, and therefore enhance the performance of the Royal Navy, but also because of the way the Royal Navy has commissioned and approached the project. It has embraced an agile, user-centred development approach, using the most progressive ways of working. This success has led to the RAF following suit with the launch of their own employee engagement tool, MyRAF, to improve the lived experience of their own personnel.

As Lt Cdr Morgan (Mogsy) Long, senior product owner for MyNavy says:

“MyNavy will be an essential tool for Navy recruits all the way through their career. By making users feel more empowered and valued, it means they will be happier and more likely to stay in the service longer – critical for the Royal Navy’s future strength. By empowering and upskilling our people and making them feel more valued, we’re significantly contributing to the digital Navy of 2030 we strive to be.”