I am sure we have all had those moments in our careers where, whilst focused on the existing challenge, we think ‘how could I make a bigger impact’. I had one of those moments about six months ago whilst in the throes of landing yet another major recovery programme for one of the UK’s largest Central Government Departments. I was fortunate enough, after 30 years in Public Sector, Financial Services and Consultancy, to change my career to more effectively deliver on those ambitions.
The action I took was to leave the UK Civil Service and join the supplier of the solutions I was improving. I was enticed by the power of the supplier’s solutions to deliver real transformation in a low-risk, incremental fashion and can be used across a large proportion of the legacy estate. Wow – this was the best kept secret I have ever come across and practical management of the improvement programme confirmed that this was not ‘sales hype’! I still hold the public servant ethos and remain passionate about improving the efficiency of the sector and, at the same time, the service to the citizen. Call me a pseudo public servant working across EMEA Governments (my title is Industry Principal for EMEA)!
That recovery programme has since been landed with £100M’s benefits starting to accrue. The initial failure of the solutions were more to do with lack of understanding on how to implement them and, more importantly for me, how to use them to their full potential. I think this is a common theme across the Public Sector, although I have also seen this in other sectors I have worked in.
So, I made the move and am pleased to say that, after the first few months and a better understanding of the solutions and methods, my earlier excitement about transformational potential has been amplified rather.
So, how to effect this change? Well, as someone who has lived, breathed and been through the challenges of transformation both as a specialist and as a CIO in public and private sectors, I will avoid the theoretical and focus on the practical steps to take.
Most Public Sector Governance authorities focus on the ROI of the point solution in question. Transformation requires a strategy and this needs its own investment case. The issue of initial investment and downstream benefit needs to be articulated and agreed so that the ‘leading project’ does not suffer from the shared initial investment. The incremental deliveries and benefits need to be defined but also that opportunities and changes to this roadmap will be made in light of experience gained. The solutions platform needs the flexibility and speed to change course when necessary. The Transformation Strategy needs to have a clear line of sight to the departmental and wider government strategy and needs agreement both internally and externally. In parallel the capabilities of internal participants to the change and external suppliers’ should be assessed and augmented according to need. This will include solution skills but also the agile methodology in use and associated tools available to deliver customer centric, easy to use and change, solutions. Only then will the solutions be implemented optimally and full benefit delivered. All of the rest comes down to good governance and the right working relationships between all parties concerned.
You can read more about my thoughts on Government Digital Transformation and Roadmaps here. The excitement of Christmas has come early for me and I hope it does for you too!
The Future of Digital Public Services