From the inside out: digital transformation in the public sector

18th May 2020

When you think about a company successfully embracing digital transformation, what do you see?

Maybe a tech company that takes a ‘do or die’ approach to digital. Or a retail company racing to engage digitally savvy consumers.

What you probably don’t see is a public sector company taking a proactive approach to its digital transformation journey. But maybe you should!

Changing perceptions

There was a time when many wouldn’t have put ‘public sector’ and ‘digital transformation’ in the same sentence. For a long time, digital transformation was something private sector companies could nail, and public sector companies liked to pretend wasn’t happening.

But when I started working with the UK government, I soon realised successful digital transformation was something any company could achieve – provided they made the right decisions early on.

There’s no one solution fits all

By tackling digital transformation proactively, providing a clear vision and strategy and working in-house, taking the time to build internal development and digital teams, you can digitise any organisation from the inside out.

Which sounds simple, but every organisation is different. For example, many public sector organisations have no in-house capability for decision-making or delivery, and everything is outsourced.

But by putting together a small group of technical architects (decision makers tasked with understanding the existing landscape and any gaps) you can get to the heart of the matter. Talent Consulting aims to deliver solutions that will kick-start the process; we do this by improving technology, encouraging positivity, and putting the people in place to make change happen.

The aim is to identify quick wins and long-term plans for improvement, as well as offer commercial and technical advice and reduce costs along the way. Those fixes could be anything from recruiting more developers to re-tendering an under-performing contract.

It’s about taking a more holistic approach and changing the entire machine. Technology is just the start of it; there’s also the need to change mindsets and company culture.

Don’t let barriers stand in your way

Digital transformation is tough for the public sector – that’s a fact. There are lots of hurdles to overcome before an organisation can embrace its own digital transformation. These include reliance on legacy systems, squeezed budgets, and user expectations. It can also be difficult to change a team’s current ways of working: employees need to adapt, upskill and shift their mindset.

But anxieties about bad press, resistance to change, and security concerns get a business nowhere. Public sector organisations need people who are bold; the teams we place inside these organisations can ‘bring the bold’.

Benefits of an in-house team

The option to outsource a digital transformation project can be appealing on paper. However, in reality the benefits aren’t always forthcoming as true transformation cuts across the whole organisation and cannot be compartmentalised.

Having a team in-house means if there’s a problem, it can be resolved almost straight away. People are on hand to make improvements without the problem being batted around until the change is made. Ultimately, it means you can take a more refined approach to transformation.

At Talent Consulting, we put together teams that can work with organisations for two months, six months or longer. We often find that a company thinks the answer is bringing in more developers or Agile coaches, but often there is a more fundamental issue that needs uncovering and addressing first.

We’re on hand to identify the problems and find workable solutions.

Digital transformation is a huge step for any business: development is fast-paced, low-cost, and essentially changes the entire operating model. But when you work with people, supporting them and demonstrating how digital ways of working are better in the long run, you can make it work.

If you have a gap in your technical leadership, or want to upskill existing teams, we can help. Get in touch to find out how we can kick-start your digital transformation today.

This article was originally written by Stephen Strudwick

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