The ‘digital dilemma’ continues to challenge the public sector. It’s forcing government departments to embrace digital transformation by disrupting service models, stress-testing current processes and adopting new ways of thinking. All in order to connect with citizens in a digital age.

If you’re at the start of your digital transformation journey, the path forward can, at times, be unclear. But, if we look at those more advanced government agencies paving a path of success – like Service NSW – for guidance, they have these ‘pivots’ in common.

Pivot 1: Familiarity to opportunity

Change is hard. And, change in a public sector setting is no exception. Outside of the technical and organisational challenges, internal politics can play a heavy role in an agency’s ability to innovate. This is particularly the case when it comes to introducing new systems, tools and/or processes as part of a digital transformation.

If you can find a way to deliver new, modern digital tools within the context of current processes, employees will likely be more receptive to the shift and future opportunities.

The key is to look for ease of introduction. Ask yourself:

  • How are people used to engaging with an existing system or process?

  • What types of questions are they accustomed to answering?

  • What expectations do they have in terms of visibility, handoff points and updates?

The goal is to create something simple and innovative enough that it can be handed off without significant training.

Pivot 2: A piecemeal approach to a comprehensive strategy

Unfortunately, a piecemeal approach to digital transformation and cloud adoption is all too common, with solitary solutions often deployed point-by-point and no overarching strategy in place. The problem with this method is that the needs of the agency often outpace the builds – a scenario that almost always ends in a Frankenstein’s monster-like construction of IT.

The government agencies that successfully navigate this pivot apply best practices in three key areas:

  • Combine line-of-business and IT subject matter expertise. Doing so will help you avoid any ‘square peg, round hole’ situations that can cap growth potential down the road.

  • Keep everyone and everything operating on a common playing field, ensuring that shared learnings can be applied to iterative, agile design methodologies.

  • Create an overarching, core platform strategy from the mission’s actions, stacking up quick wins without sacrificing long-term success.

Pivot 3: Prioritise by problem to prioritise by benefit

A US-based survey of government departments found that employees want their agencies to prioritise the following five areas over the next few years:

  • Efficiency and productivity tactics

  • IT training and development

  • Employee morale

  • Investment in state-of-the-art technologies

  • Mobility and data accessibility

Meanwhile, they feel their organisations are held back by:

  • Budget constraints

  • Security concerns

  • Legacy migration difficulties

  • Lack of in-house IT expertise

  • Lack of cloud leadership and strategy

But, it doesn’t have to be a trade-off between the two. Increased efficiency and productivity helps organisations do more with the same resources, allowing budgets to be reallocated to other areas in need.

System design and deployment training can mitigate security concerns, making it easier for departments to support the platforms that enable the modern productivity tools today’s workforce has come to expect (like mobile and social).

Attracting and maintaining top IT talent is crucial in the complex public sector – where demanding regulations and a commitment to serve a broader scope of customers can be challenging. Any opportunity to increase staff morale and productivity will have far-reaching benefit.

Learn more about how IT departments around the world are juggling the shift towards digital transformation and customer experience initiatives, download the State of IT report.