Public sector digital transformation needs financial leadership to succeed

According to a new report by CIPFA and Eduserv, developments in technology are changing the way public bodies operate and deliver services, but digital preparedness presents challenges and requires effective financial leadership, organisational engagement and insightful risk management

The joint publication, Finance’s Role in Public Sector Transformation, sets out the key steps to ensure the preparedness of public bodies so that they not only achieve benefits of new technologies but also understand the risks.

The publication is a result of a series of roundtables and a survey that CIPFA and Eduserv ran involving over 230 public sector finance professionals and which examined the role of finance teams in endorsing digital transformation across public bodies.

This research shows that while the majority of organisations recognise the need to transform digitally, significant challenges remain in place, including legacy IT systems, staff IT capabilities and capacities, along with financial constraints

Jude Sheeran, Eduserv CEO, said: “Finance leaders should be at the very heart of digital programme management and wider transformation. However, they should not be expected to be experts in digital technology in the same way that technologists rarely build their careers by focusing on business and finance.

“Our research shows that finance professionals see a priority in forming partnerships with IT leaders and the corporate leadership team. Through the resulting convergence of business and technology, we hope to see dramatic improvements in the relevance, quality and cost of public services at the dawn of a truly digital age.”

Rob Whiteman, CIPFA CEO, said: “Digital technology is advancing at an increasingly rapid pace and public service providers must adapt to and adopt these changes if they are to remain relevant, optimal and sustainable.

“For public bodies, digital transformation is more than a revamped website, unified communications, a new CRM system, a Facebook profile or giving employees iPads. It’s fundamentally changing the way that organisations design and deliver services and how they operate internally.”

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