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Case study

Defining digitisation pathways to improve lives in disability services


Aruma is a not-for-profit organisation and has stood as one of Australia’s largest disability service providers for over 50 years. They are committed to empowering people with disabilities by giving them greater choice, control and freedom.

The inception of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in 2013 upended their funding and operating model; and in 2020 the governing National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) introduced further changes to the technology landscape by opening up its APIs.

To continue delivering on their mission, Aruma needed to make sense of the digital disability services landscape, and make informed decisions on investment and capability in these areas. Snowmelt worked with Aruma to build a customer-centric view of the entities in their environment, the supporting technologies & transactions and how the complex dynamics of the NDIS are changing over time - enabling Aruma to solidify its position as an enduring pioneer in the sector.

The challenge

The NDIS marked a fundamental shift in which people with disabilities could access financial support from the government; and how the funding was administered. In essence, more people could access support; and were given agency over the services they received and who provided the services to them. This approach required massive investment in systems and tools to administer the new model, requiring Aruma (and its peers) to adapt to this new digital frontier to continue providing essential support to its community of 5,000 customers.

While Aruma had already embarked on its digitisation journey, new technology-first competitors and the shift in available digital tools increased its strategic significance: a thoughtful response was required to engage with new NDIA capability and to remain competitive within the market.

To prepare this response, a clear view of the digital landscape and its dynamics was required - one that considered Aruma’s unique positioning and services as well as regulator posture and competitor context.

“It was incredibly valuable to get an informed, external perspective on what is happening across the industry. Snowmelt’s understanding of technology and our business helped us build our understanding quickly.”
Felicity Nelson, Strategic Innovation Lead, Aruma
What we did

Snowmelt helped Aruma chart a strategic course that aligned with their core mission and embraced evolving industry practices. We built a customer-centric view of their operating environment; and used it to explore organisation and sector dynamics. This frame was used to create greater understanding of the strategic intent for major actors in the system. Ultimately, our engagement identified areas where strategic incentives across the system aligned to highlight areas where investment would benefit Aruma, the NDIA and other stakeholders.

Key activities

  • Deep and broad research into the current and emerging state of the NDIS and market players - document review, 11 interviews with Aruma & industry experts, startup operators and government representatives.
  • Synthesised these diverse perspectives into a single system view of the digital disability services landscape, including the footprints of key entities and competitors.
  • Mapped capital flows across the system at an industry and organisational level.
  • Documented 8 cases exploring novel business models and value propositions across the ecosystem.
  • Identified 5 immediate opportunities for digital investment and key partnership opportunities to explore these.
  • Identified 2 emerging opportunity spaces to monitor and engage with over time.

Informed decision making

through building executives’ understanding of digitisation initiatives across the sector

Deepened relationships

with peers across the sector to create ongoing change

A focused course of action

that enabled leaders to discuss feasible & viable opportunities across the organisation and sector that reflected clear priorities
"If you are thinking for the long term rather than looking for a quick fix, Snowmelt can help."
Angela Meyer, Strategic Innovation Lead, Aruma
Project Insights
  1. Transformation relies on alignment between all decision-makers. They must understand, consider and address the major challenges facing the organisation as the first step of the journey forward.
  2. System representations are powerful when they capture multiple perspectives to identify and explain the dynamics, relationships and interactions. These are built from the views of entities “inside” the system, looking out; and “outside” the system looking in.
  3. Changing established organisations is more difficult than building anew. Creating impact relies on the alignment of objectives and incentives, focusing on the work that helps the whole team work better.

We visualised the disability services landscape to explore the dynamics and forces that shape it

We systematically mapped the entities, relationships and dependencies across the market
We mapped key interactions and transactions across the system

We identified the most significant interactions between customers and their stakeholders
We explored the system from the perspectives of major actors in the system

We identified the opportunities and challenges of system actors in the disability services landscape
We identified areas where incentives are aligned and digitisation is in the interests of multiple groups of actors
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Tim Tompson
Co-Founder and Principal
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