Gary Bell, Executive Director of Outsourcing, Civica outlines how the public sector could learn from the mindset and commitment of our Olympians when it comes to the challenges of technology…
Great Britain’s remarkable success in the Rio Olympics and Paralympics has reminded us all that if you plan well and train hard, every goal is achievable, no matter how tough it may seem at the outset. And with sprinting, jumping and rowing fresh on our minds, there are some lessons that public sector organisations can learn from the mindset and long-term commitment of our winning athletes.
The saying may go that “it’s a marathon, not a sprint” however, while that may be true for Mo Farah, public sector organisations need to pick up the pace to meet the service delivery demands of citizens. While improvement in public services seems increasingly dependent on IT-enhanced ways of working which can improve efficiency, reduce costs and increase agility, the question is whether organisations have the skills, stamina and ability to embrace new technologies whilst also coping with financial constraints? To stay on track, authorities need to remain fixed on the end-goal and, just like athletes do, they need to work with a team of expert partners to help them win.
Sweating existing assets
The first step in succeeding with any technology challenge is to make the assets you already have work harder for you. However, reviewing skills as opposed to hardware or software is often harder for IT departments as technology is constantly evolving and new platforms and applications are constantly coming to the fore. This is compounded by the proliferation of devices and the increased availability and volume of data being collected which is creating whole new jobs. Therefore, just like the best Olympians, constant evaluation is needed to ensure that teams are fully equipped and prepared to win.
According to recent research we conducted with senior UK IT decision makers across both the public and private sector, many organisations admit to missing key IT skills. The skills most lacking across the UK include cloud migration, security and IT engineering. To fill these gaps, many organisations (57%) are looking to make their current teams run the extra mile. However, while it’s important to ensure that the business is benefitting from the full-breadth of employee skills, organisations need to be mindful not to drive staff to the point of burn out.
And it’s not just capacity and skills that need to be considered, it’s also the equipment and infrastructure an organisation currently has. Organisations should ask themselves, do these match up against future requirements? Will they help meet efficiency challenges and deliver digital transformation? Without the right equipment in place, organisations won’t make it past the heats.
Investing in new team players
To reach new levels of success in the sporting world, athletes often switch coaching teams to access new capabilities and expertise. Likewise, Team GB coaches go through a rigorous selection process to ensure they form a team with a winning combination of attitude and skills. The same strategy can be applied to public sector IT teams.
As it stands, 43% of UK organisations plan to select and hire more staff to bridge their current IT skills gap. However, new talent doesn’t come cheaply. According to IT decision makers, recruiting the people needed to fill their current gap would require an extra £112,000 per annum. Given budgets are being squeezed harder than ever, more and more organisations are turning to external partners to plug the gaps in terms of expertise and help them reach long-term goals.
Finding the right training partner
The role of a good technology partner is much like that of a good coaching team. They should be proven experts in their field who share a common vision and dedication to the sport and who support players to create the performance improvements required to win.
It’s not just about sharing expertise, helping to train and providing motivation. A good coaching team provides an end-to-end capability from equipment through to medical support. The right technology partnership enables organisations to select the most appropriate hardware and software, as well as access the IT skills they need to address backlogs, manage peaks in activity and process workloads at short notice. For example, by deploying a managed solution for one aspect of their business, organisations can be free to focus on the bigger picture in the same way that an athlete with the right coaching team can focus solely on their performance.
This way of working tends to prove more cost-effective in the short and long term, allowing organisations to be more responsive and flexible, as well as helping them achieve better results in terms of service delivery to citizens and staff. It seems almost a third of IT decision makers understand and appreciate the benefits, as they say using external IT services is fundamental to keeping their organisation’s lights on throughout the UK.
Reaching future goals
Having trained for four years for their moment to shine, Olympians all feel the heat on the day. However, while it may be one person running the race, you have to remember that it’s a whole team of people that have got them there. Public sector organisations are under similar pressure to deliver and to make their organisation fit for the future. With the right technology partner, who shares their vision and drive, they can achieve the best results possible in the years to come – not just in their next race.
Executive Director of Outsourcing