For public sector bodies seeking to transform their organisation with efficiency-boosting digital services and new ways of working, you first need to understand your estate of services.

Right, let’s get stuck in. To recap, our principles are:

  • User centricity
  • Improved skills and capability
  • ‘Working out loud’
  • Lower cost
  • Digital by default
  • Reuse, cloud first, shorter contracts
  • ‘Agile first’ delivery
  • Data-intelligence led
  • Mobile
  • Green

For public sector bodies seeking to transform their organisation with efficiency-boosting digital services and new ways of working, you first need to understand your estate of services. It may not have been properly mapped by your own organisation for some time. This should be done iteratively, based on user need, including the end-user compute function, networks and multiple services.

Services will be discrete but increasingly shared and the principles governing that determination will need to be understood by everybody and managed by a service design authority.

It must be clear to everybody involved that the world is changing. Working ‘out loud’ is essential to garner user input, establish a clear vision and alignment.

Clear owners are essential for each service. These product managers will be responsible for the delivery and ongoing success of each product or platform. Business and approvals methodologies will need to change to deal with iterative development.

Funding should be approved in line with iterative development. As more is successfully delivered, more funding will flow.

Programme and portfolio management must be in place to manage component delivery dependencies, not the colossal old school end-to-end paradigm we’ve been used to seeing.

Governance must be based on component importance for the user. A Business Data Science Function should be implemented to drive shared data use and analytics.

There are some major challenges that must be tackled head on and openly. There may be big existing contracts coming to an end. Design delivery and migration should be properly completed in line with the overriding principles before then.

Resource capacity and skills will be constrained. Specialist skills available from niche suppliers can be used while a clear programme of skills acquisition is delivered as soon as practical.

Mentoring of staff by experienced people, likely external to your organisation, will be essential to build the confidence of your teams. Governance boards should have similar external experienced members who can help senior stakeholders to understand the broader perspective.

Not all your design needs will be covered by G-Cloud or the Digital Marketplace. They have and will always need to evolve in line with buyers needs. Where products are unavailable, it’s incumbent on all buyers to help inform the supplier market of emerging needs.

Innovation and user focus is in the DNA of the Digital Marketplace, that much is clear. But to continue to flourish, suppliers need to get the products that buyers want on there.

Here’s your pre-Christmas task list to get started:

  • Define the big picture service landscape
  • Define and implement new governance
  • Reset scope and approach of all in-flight strategy delivery activities — ensure they are aligned to this methodology
  • Identify priority services for design and prototyping
  • Lead with an exemplar that delivers tangible and visible value to your users — make sure it is one that can be delivered well
  • Allocate priority components to product managers — best and brightest people who are subject matter skilled and capable
  • Put in place (new school) programme controls to manage interfaces and dependencies
  • Undertake culture change to help the organisation work in the new ways
  • Understand skill and resource gap and put in place modern recruitment and development practices to address

Oh, and did I mention? Work out loud.

This article is part of a monthly blog series from Chris Chant, who, as the former Executive Director of the G-Cloud Programme was responsible for setting the strategy for the use of cloud computing across the public sector.

Chris Chant previously served in a number of roles in central government including Ex-Executive Director of the G-Cloud Programme; Interim Executive Director of Government Digital Service (GDS); and Executive Director of Direct Gov and Digital Engagement in the Cabinet Office. He was responsible for the implementation of the Martha Lane-Fox report ‘Revolution not Evolution’ and launched the Alpha version of the GOV.UK website.

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