The Fast Track to Low-Risk Government Digital Evolution
Wendy Henry, Head of Business Change and Digital Adoption at Embridge Consulting, explains why having people at the heart of your government digital transformation will ensure you reach your digital destination faster.
Digital transformation can sometimes feel like one of those long car journeys you took as a child. A never-ending drive. Lots of twists and turns in the road. Frequent stops. People saying, ‘Are we there yet?’
There’s good reason for this. Digital transformation isn’t a smooth road. Reimagining end-to-end public services delivery is a complex, difficult evolution. It involves large-scale, intricate transformation programmes that future-proof public services. It’s about innovative delivery models, leadership, and talent development.
Only when you truly connect your entire public sector organisation – unifying finance, HR, and procurement functions for example – will you become more agile, more focused on citizens’ needs, and more efficient.
It’s easy to believe that technology can shrink that journey time and fast-track your digital evolution. If you implement a modern enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution, for example, you create a single, shared view of data – not silos. Transactions are entered once not a multitude of times. You can trust your data for decision-making. And citizens are more satisfied with the service agility they receive.
Technology is certainly a critical component of digital change, but it takes more than that to speed up that car journey. It’s the people that get you to your digital destination faster. Without the human element, you will quickly realise how technology is merely an enabler and not the core driver of digital success. Technology is the engine for change – people are the navigators.
You need to bring humanity to digital evolution.
However, it’s not always easy to ensure people are engaged in your government evolution. For starters, the digital divide continues to exist. Shiny new technology is being deployed, but too frequently your people aren’t receiving the training they need to use it. Going back to the car journey analogy, it’s like buying a new electric car brimming with technology but not being told how it works.
Microsoft Office 365, for example, is so rich with features that it can be overwhelming for non-technical users. Likewise, many of your people may not have access to digital connections, such as remote working maintenance teams that need to enter timesheets on the digital HR system.
COVID-19 has exacerbated this problem. Some argue that a positive outcome of the pandemic has been to telescope ten years of change into two. People have been forced to use Zoom or Teams, for instance, accelerating their productivity. But remote working has made skills training more difficult – people can no longer ask someone sitting beside them. How often, for example, do people on a video call say, ‘How do I share my screen?’
Without people at the centre of your digital evolution, you risk being stuck in the lay-by. Without people being educated about change or not trained in how to use the systems, people don’t feel part of the change. A negative culture begins to pervade the organisation. People push against change. Errors occur as data is mis-input. The customer experience declines. The digital transformation opportunity is lost.
Embridge Consulting puts people first
It doesn’t have to be this way. At Embridge Consulting we put people in the driving seat of change. We look at the individual to ensure each and every person in the organisation is part of the change. It’s the ‘no-one left behind’ mantra.
The focus needs to be on behaviour, on culture, and on skills. By understanding how people behave currently, how they would like to work differently, and how that change can be brought about – change becomes easier.
The prospect of change can be daunting, and it is important to find alignment among the people that change will affect. All key stakeholders should be engaged and on board with the proposed changes. Additionally, empowering the users of any new technology is crucial. Ensuring they are suitably trained in the tool or technology’s use supports success and can create a culture of innovation by allowing room for creative and flexible thinking. Without the right people in the right places to run and manage new technology, you risk not fully realising the benefits of these tools.
By ensuring everyone is on board with the digital evolution, there will be fewer ‘U-turns’ along the way and less emergency braking. You’ll arrive at your destination faster, more comfortably, and with less risk of an incident along the way.
Embridge Consulting helps government organisations to deliver low-risk transformation more efficiently.