​3 priorities for successful Public Sector transformation

18th Feb, 2019

Transformation means different things to many people. To some, it’s a process with a beginning, a middle and an end. Others see it as a makeover that creates a new way forward. What we do know, is that there is no going back. Love it or hate it, it’s a permanent change. There is no reset button. So, for those who watch and wait, hoping to go “back to normal”, they will be disappointed.

In a recent interview with CLGdotTV, Netcall CTO Richard Farrell and Essex County Council’s Jason Kitcat gave their thoughts on how Local Authorities might overcome challenges such as legacy systems, the skills gap and old fashioned procurement.

Why temp not perm?

Why do teams not believe that change is real or long-lasting? Let’s consider two factors. First, that year after year of austerity means public sector teams focus on surviving this year’s budget. The big picture is too much to face. Secondly, change challenges us. We’re uncomfortable as the unknown is scary. To embrace change we need a focus on the future. It helps to know we have a role in making that difference, rather than it happening to us.

During the debate Jason Kitcat confirmed that “Transformation is difficult. There is no rule book and no council has “nailed it”. Unlike digital companies such as Amazon or Uber, councils can’t turn away unprofitable customers. Citizens have legal rights and councils are obliged to provide them services.” It’s clear that councils across the UK are working hard in the direction that they think will work.

Changing behaviours is key

There is a caution that past behaviours have crept forward, they haven’t been transformed. For example, procurement is still driven by past rules, although departmental needs for digital are different. Writing long specification documents and using some project measurements may no longer work. Departments need flexibility and shorter, more agile capacity. Big systems contracted over 5 to 15 years no longer work. Leadership teams have a strong role to play in modelling and encouraging behaviours that will support new ways of working.

Getting to success

The panel agreed that the most effective route to real transformation was to deprioritise the ‘tech’.

  1. Place the outcome front and centre. Then work to find a way to achieve and sustainably deliver. The word sustainable sparked a new thread in the conversation. The panel were asked if “We need to bring our ethical selves to work?” or in other words…don’t digitise bad processes. Buying a badly fitting solution is worse than tight shoes. Instead, find the very best way. A solution that moulds to your needs and delivers significant savings, service and productivity.
  2. Lead with design thinking. The design council has been working with councils, encouraging them to use the double diamond approach to deliver better results. And this changed paradigm may mean that tech isn’t the answer. It’s seeing past the ‘shiny things’ hype. Carefully considering how to involve your stakeholders in investing the public purse wisely. Making sure there is ongoing continuous improvement and future system flexibility.
  3. Use all your experts. Technology doesn't deliver projects, people do. Getting the best solutions depends on using a multidisciplinary team. The Digital Declaration encourages everyone to bring business experts and in-house developer talent together so they can collaborate on solutions as one team.

So much more was discussed and you can see the full interview on the Connected Local Government website.

Take transformation into your own hands

To hear real-life examples of how Local Government is already using Low-code, watch presentations from 3 senior IT Local Government leaders from our recent ‘Release your Innovation’ workshops.

If you would like to hear more on the skills shortage debate, MatsSoft CTO, Richard Billington, gives his thoughts in our CX Appeal podcast.

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