We’re proud to have helped the Food Standards Agency transform its technology while saving 40% costs. Here, Phillippa Tasselli, the FSA’s head of IT Services, discusses the importance of three strategic and interlinked programmes.

This article featured in Government Computing on 8 January 2018


We all know digital transformation is not simply about the technology. It’s about the people who are using the technology and how it can unlock their potential.

This is an exciting time for the Food Standards Agency. We are on the cusp of transforming the organisation so that our people can work where they want to, how they need to — making us more open, more productive and more collaborative. We have three strategic programmes underway to enable this.

  • EvolveIT was set up to implement the FSA’s IT strategy. The single supplier outsourced model for the provision of IT services was inflexible and costly in addressing changing business objectives. We have been able to bring overall control back in house, facilitating the adoption of a more flexible, responsive, innovative and better value supply chain, delivering cost savings of 40%.
  • The Our Ways of Working Programme (OWOW) is about our people, creating an environment in which our people are highly capable, effectively supported and engaged with our mission — Food We Can Trust. In practice this means transforming us into a location agnostic workforce that empowers our people to be open, collaborative and highly skilled.
  • Then our digital transformation programme is creating a digital workplace that will enable our people to work from any location, on any device.

Though all three are separate, they are closely interlinked.

The journey towards achieving the OWOW vision involves introducing new hardware and software, but is essentially about enabling people to work wherever they are most productive, whether this is at home, in the office, a shared space or at food premises. It is also about ensuring that they continue to feel connected to the organisation, able to find and connect with each other, collaborating on documents and sharing information and accessing people’s deep expertise, when they are not physically located together.

This is an exciting vision. We believe it will give us a much more productive and engaged workforce and allow us to tap into new talent pools because people will no longer be constrained by their location.

The scale of the programmes and the time in which to deliver, however, means it is almost impossible to deliver this internally, so it has been important to bring in external expertise where necessary.

We asked Rainmaker Solutions initially to work on EvolveIT and on the digital workplace, feeding key insights into OWOW. Their support has been more than simply delivering on new technology and by working collaboratively they have given us a deeper understanding of how our people use technology and a broader insight into our strategy.

Another important change is instead of a one-size fit all system, we will provide a variety of devices appropriate to user needs — laptop, tablet or smartphone — with the flexible deployment of applications.

The same goes for our IT infrastructure and services. By using commodity services wherever possible we can evolve our IT to ensure that it continues to meet the needs of the business.

With the support of Rainmaker, we have delivered an 18-month IT programme that has seen a smooth transition to our new operating model, based on a mixed provision of in-house services and third party suppliers. Evolve IT has delivered new tools for the job based on modern, commoditised technology sourced in the most cost effective and flexible way possible.

Across all these projects deciding on the technology is the easy part and the biggest challenge is bringing your people with you and changing the mindset.

We have some of the most talented people in the public sector, but at times technology has been a barrier. We believe the changes we are making will make our people more engaged and productive and provide them with technology that enables them to be the best they can be.

Phillippa Tasselli is head of IT Services at the Food Standards Agency