Mark Hastings of Rainmaker Solutions offers public sector leaders some thoughts on how to accelerate their digital transformation journeys

This article featured in Open Access Government on 1 October 2018

Very few of you would argue against the seemingly irreversible trend for digital technologies and applications to reinvent and shape the way we work; the way we live our lives and the way we deliver public services.

The reality is, we can’t ignore it. We are being challenged daily to deliver better services, despite limited money and resources. Getting there requires departments to think and behave differently. But success will never be achieved through a one-off transformation programme. If you are coming to the end of a long-term contract with a large Systems Integrator, or if you are wanting to use digital technologies to help deliver better services for less, here are our top five areas to focus on.

Understand where you are (situational awareness)

Every department will be starting their journey from a different place and with differing levels of digital maturity. We have learnt that situational awareness is a critical step in any transformation journey, but one that is often neglected. If you don’t understand where you are, you can’t begin to plan how you are going to get to where you want to go. This is why we co-create visual maps of how users, processes and technology components interact to meet the organisation’s needs. It is these maps which help the department understand the environment in which it is operating and which will highlight how opportunities for strategic change may be exploited.

Understand where you are heading (clarity of purpose)

Every department needs a clear articulation of its vision; one that describes its desired future. To spell this out is to provide an aspirational destination for the organisation to head towards. Without clarity of vision and purpose, ambiguities are more likely to arise on the journey, leading to expensive changes of direction and increasing the time it takes to deliver. Vision statements must be co-developed by listening to the views of those within an organisation, not simply imposed from the top without consultation. Done well, they will unite key stakeholders and provide a clear governance framework to support transformation delivery.

Focus on the user

At the heart of all transformations are people, not technology. Successful transformation starts by understanding user needs, pain points, user journeys and personas. It requires a service design approach to ensure that the services being designed meet those user needs. This involves working collaboratively across disciplines, engaging users and citizens to define, develop and embed transformation. Too often, we see tools, systems and programmes being implemented without conducting sufficient user research, also known as ‘technology-led change’. This results in services which aren’t fit for purpose and which causes users to disengage from the service as their needs have not been met. In short, user research is essential. It crystallises the understanding around what users need to be able to do their jobs more easily or use a service with less effort. It means we are able to deliver more fundamental transformation by re-imagining services, rather than salami slicing existing services and cutting them to the bone.

Define a roadmap

The quickest route to failure is to try and fit new technologies to existing ways of working. In the long-term, it simply doesn’t work. True transformation must also address culture, workplace skills, leadership, governance and supplier relationships. It must be able to adapt to changing business requirements and changing user needs. Having taken a user-centric approach to understanding where the department is and where it is headed, a transformation roadmap helps the department explore the path it needs to take to achieve its vision. They help it understand the way its people, processes, data and technology should combine to deliver value to its users. They inform decisions on where to act and why.

Iterative delivery

Collaboration is key. We like to call it ‘working out loud’. This is vital if transformation isn’t just to be ‘for Christmas’. It encourages all stakeholders to buy into the transformation plan, creating a culture which adopts digital at its core. It ensures the plan can endure ongoing iteration as circumstances change, whether due to market forces, product availability, organisational vision, performance or changing user needs. It is through a detailed understanding of the department and its users, combined with a map of how their needs connect with technology, that we are able to work together to create a change in mindset, embedding digital change and transformation. Sometimes the answer will be ‘Agile’. Sometimes it won’t. But we start on that journey on day one and begin making real differences from the outset.

Flexibility

In a world where departments need to iterate constantly, a more flexible model for investing in technology and skills is needed. A framework that can respond to a more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world. Gone are the days of large outsourcing contracts, often single vendor arrangements, lasting from five to ten years. They no longer represent value for money and they constrain departments from achieving their visions. Using proven partners and ‘as a service’ type models, which provide rapid access to skilled resources and the ability to scale according to the roadmap, can be a powerful way of achieving required outcomes. They allow departments to benefit from knowledge transfer in key skills like user research and analysis, agile project management and financial modelling. They avoid departments having to risk large investments in specialist in-house skills that may become irrelevant. If you hire a group of .NET developers, then they’ll see everything as a .NET development problem, whether that’s the right solution or not.

Conclusion

As a digital and business transformation business, we have helped many departments, agencies and local authorities accelerate their digital transformation journeys by taking a user-centred approach to transformation and using the department’s vision and values to guide it. Most often, success stems from leadership teams who are prepared to question the status quo. From leaders who want to reimagine service delivery and ways of working. From leaders who want to challenge target operating models that are out-of-date as soon as they are implemented. If you want to understand better where you are on your own journey, you can find us at rainmaker.solutions.

Mark Hastings is Director of Public Sector at Rainmaker Solutions

We think you may also like.

Rapid Prototyping for Better Services

  Decide, quickly, whether your idea is worth designing and building. Technology is faster than ever before. Rapidly defining and redefining the way we live and work. And today’s technology leaders need to balance time, budgets and regulatory constraints with...

Digital as a catalyst

Rainmaker is supporting Newham Council as it transforms its services for the digital age. Here, Client Lead, Steve Thompson, explains our approach to digital thinking. At Newham, we’re leveraging the power of Digital as a catalyst for entirely reimagining the services...

Your Business is on Crack

How I.T. has you hooked on all the wrong things This is a bold statement and I’m sure you will immediately deny it. However, how else can you explain your acceptance of the ongoing failures of your IT department to meet not only the needs of your people and your...

Rainmaker News

Sign up to get Rainmaker thinking direct to your inbox, just add and send your email in the field below

Email Address Sent!

By signing up with your email address you are giving us the permission to send you Rainmaker related news. We will not share or sell your data with 3rd parties.

Giving Back

We believe everyone should have the opportunity to reach their full potential. This is why why we are part of…

Rainmaker News

Sign up to get Rainmaker thinking direct to your inbox, just add and send your email in the field below

Email Address Sent!

By signing up with your email address you are giving us the permission to send you Rainmaker related news. We will not share or sell your data with 3rd parties 🙂

Giving Back

We believe everyone should have the opportunity to reach their full potential. This is why why we are part of…

Visit us

One Alfred Place

1 Alfred Place

London

WC1E 7EB

United Kingdom

 

Google Map

Get in touch

+44 (0) 330 223 4407

hello@rainmaker.solutions

 

Products & Services

Lightning Lab

Wemvula

Resourcing Hub

Copyright ©Rainmaker Solutions ltd 2018. All rights reserved. For company information and other legal stuff, see our Legal Page and Privacy Policy.