Martin McFadyen, Head of Public Sector, Virgin Media Business argues that small changes are the secret behind public sector transformation
Banishing pagers from hospitals and replacing them with smartphones and apps. Digitising the online civil money claims service, achieving 90% public satisfaction ratings. Sending civil servants on secondments to digital companies to learn from innovative cultures and enhance technological skills.
These small, almost imperceptible changes are driving positive outcomes across the public sector.
Since the Cabinet Office launched the Government Transformation Strategy in 2017, which covers everything from citizen-centric public services to ensuring government buildings have interoperable technology, promising progress has been made – and this should make public sector decision-makers and citizens very excited indeed.
Ultimately, if the Government Transformation Strategy is successful, civil servants will feel empowered to achieve their objectives much faster, and citizens will benefit from public services that make their lives easier.
While incremental and manageable changes are leading to successes, there’s still more to do – especially when it comes to enhancing infrastructure and supporting modern working practices.
Embracing winning structures
Part of meeting the Government’s ambitions is embedding a winning structure at the heart of digital transformation projects. By 2020, the Government plans to deliver at least 86 digital services using an end-to-end structure where members of the public can follow simple step-by-step online processes to achieve their goals.
Not only is this an example of positive digital change, but it also demonstrates the power of digitisation to make people’s lives less stressful and more straightforward.
The Government has also adopted a structure for user verification, known as Gov Verify, which allows people to access 18 key central government services, including checking income tax on HMRC and claiming for a redundancy payment via the Insolvency Service.
Unifying user authentication systems might seem like a small, routine change, but it’s actually a major structural development that has delivered added convenience for users and, for example, has encouraged people to check their tax codes for accuracy.
While there has clearly been progress, the next step is for public sector leaders to focus on enhancing infrastructure. The importance of constant and secure connectivity can sometimes be deprioritised in the public sector—perhaps because networks are ultimately invisible forces.
However, it’s crucial to remember that digitisation is ultimately driven by networks which not only process the data that drives public service delivery but also manage pressures on the system from customers and adapt bandwidth management accordingly. Moreover, these networks need to be secure, otherwise, they risk exposing confidential information and compromising the integrity of entire public services. Rolling out next-generation networks will be vital to delivering the next tranche of iterative improvements.
Combatting the remote working conundrum
One key challenge is responding to demands for remote working. By 2020, the Government expects 70% of departments to comply with the Smart Working Code of Practice written up by the British Standards Institute—which means they will need to update their technology to support flexible working for civil servants.
This is particularly complex for the public sector, as there are different levels of security to consider across different departments influencing the extent to which a ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) policy could be introduced, for example.
However, there’s no doubt that to attract top talent, support for remote working will need to be delivered—and a large part of that will involve empowering employees to access a corporate network while they are on the move. Delivering this is critical for an organisation, and public sector leaders should seek a strategic technology partner that can act as a co-pilot on this journey.
Overall, while there are encouraging signs, there’s still work to be done to implement winning structures and deliver twenty-first-century services for citizens. The public sector needs to continually implement small changes, ensure data and knowledge are shareable and put power in the hands of people.
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