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5 Challenges of Public Sector Digital Transformation

  • Publish Date: Posted about 4 years ago
  • Author:by Narada Pascal

Implementing a Public Sector Digital Transformation is no easy task. With a multitude of issues to tackle, digital transformations need to be thoroughly researched, strategically planned and driven by motivational leadership.

The UK Government claims to be one of the most digitally advanced in the world. They’ve developed GOV.UK and opened its code, allowing it to be replicated by other governments. The Government Digital Service (GDS) is leading digital transformation and local authorities are also expanding digitally with a variety of initiatives. From Oxford City Council using chatbots to Aylesbury Vale District Council using AI for responsive web chats. But, there’s still a long road ahead in optimising services for the wider public.

Reaching the public at large means creating a service that works for everyone. Not only does it need to be functional and accessible, but also secure and sustainable, with an excellent user experience. When a digital transformation takes place within government, it faces a unique set of problems with long-term consequences for failures.

So it’s important to ensure you tackle these 5 challenges in order to achieve success…

1. Future Proof Functionality

Functionality is key. There are around 1 billion individual transactions a year with central government departments, rising nearer to 1.5 billion when other organisations such as local government are accounted for.

For successful transactions you’ll need to start by looking at user workflows for the full lifecycle of transactions and the functionality that supports these transactions. How does this currently work (if at all) and where do you need real change?

You should identify the right technologies that will work with any existing systems or consider a complete upgrade. This is an area for careful consideration as some government departments have legacy contracts or software licensing that will need to be reviewed. Many new tech options are cloud reliant and some government business-critical systems can prohibit software in a third-party or cloud environment.

This is where research plays a huge part. If you’re unclear on the technologies you need, then you will need to review your current situation with the help of a qualified professional or an expert consultant. Any new technologies you implement should be fully connected, sustainable for future improvements and offer opportunities for automation.

2. Establishing Trust

Beyond large scale project management considerations, the government also needs to consider inclusivity. In 2011, around 150 million calls a year to government were self-reported as avoidable. This strain on government systems and employees is costly but there needs to be an understanding of why the public are calling, rather than using a digital alternative.

The public sector supports many vulnerable groups of society and these people will fall into core demographics for utilising government services. In 2018, there were still 5.3 million adults in the UK who were digitally excluded because of a lack of internet access, or low levels of digital literacy. These people need to be catered for.

This means using innovative thinking and a user-focused approach to improving services by implementing the skills of User Researchers, User Experience Designers and Customer Experience Leads. Transformations need to establish trust, promote security and put users at ease by making information clear and easily accessible.

3. Demographic Research

To establish a successful transformation, you should consider not just what the government objectives are, but also who your users are and what they need.

Research will give you a clear understanding of who your core demographics are and their drivers in using a particular service. The needs of the elderly accessing healthcare are in direct opposition to a 30-something searching for local business support.

Whilst some functionality can be replicated to suit a variety of needs, not all services are purely transactional and require in-depth understanding of end users. What are their painpoints? What problems can you solve for them? Adopt a data first approach. The government has a huge amount of data at its fingertips. With the right analysts you can gain a unique understanding of the demographics who will utilise your services and their online behaviours. This allows you to design effective workflows, creating positive outcomes and speeding up processes.

4. People and Culture

One of the biggest impacts on whether a digital transformation is successful, is culture change. Transformations involve a fundamental change to current ways of working. Existing employees will need to adapt, and in some cases you will see prominent skill gaps with a need to upskill.

Having the right leaders in place will be crucial to managing culture change and shifting mindsets. Project leaders need to manage employee expectations and their development, as well as motivate them through cultural changes.

Make no mistake, people are going to be the foundation of your project. You will almost certainly need to employ either interim staff or permanent employees, as you’ll need fresh, innovative thinking and defined specialist skills. Having an effective team, made up of industry experts enables you to deliver substantial change quickly.

With contractors, you can progress projects at higher speed and they can also upskill your existing employees. Bringing in new, permanent employees gives you the reassurance that changes can be maintained and continually optimised.

5. Cost-effective Procurement

According to Deloitte Digital, 79% of government organisations find procurement to be a challenging area to manage in their transition to digital. Many consulting services can be incredibly expensive and you’re not always guaranteed the right results.

There are several government platforms to help you find accredited and trusted suppliers, including G-Cloud and the Digital Outcomes Specialists frameworks from the Digital Marketplace , both of which Hanover are listed on.

When it comes to procurement, there’s lots to think about. You’ll need to look at any rules and regulations for your department and if you have any existing legacy contracts. Before you engage with a supplier, identify your objectives and the problems you are looking to solve.

Any decent consultancy service should be able to offer you a free advisory discussion. Because how can a supplier claim to help you if they don’t have a clear understanding of your project? If you’re undertaking a digital transformation, find a service that can be flexible and can scale according to your needs. This should also include flexibility when it comes to budget, and rather than going with a supplier offering set packages, instead look for a service that can be tailored to your needs.

Need help with your digital transformation?

Undertaking digital transformations, whether small or large scale can be daunting. With a solid brief, clear objectives and the right support in place you can set yourself up for success. The initial stages are the most important to ensure the process is cost-effective and that timelines will be met.

Find out more about our services and how we can support your digital transformation goals