Widen your transformation focus

Too narrow a focus is a common pitfall in transformation projects.

All too often, organisations home in on one specific aspect of their operations, such as building better software or replacing technology root-and-branch. But they risk falling into the trap of ignoring both processes and culture, which can mean the difference between success and failure.

This was a central theme in our discussions at the Transformation Strategy Discussion Table during Government Transformation Summit. While we were delighted to hear the odd success story, it feels like most government departments struggle with transformation. In particular change management.

Delivering change

I know that despite having a passion for service, many government departments face challenges when delivering change, and often hear remarks such as:

  • We don’t have experience of doing this before, how do we actually go about it?
  • We know what to do, but don’t have the capability internally to deliver
  • We do know what to do, have the capability, but are afraid of getting it wrong

These are often under-appreciated aspects of improving service delivery - but there are ways to approach change management that will lead to positive outcomes.

HMPO is a transformation success story

Kainos has been supporting government departments with digital service delivery for approaching two decades. We have partnered with Whitehall organisations for services including Covid-19/NHS App, voter registration and transformation at HM Passport Office (HMPO).

I was pleased that one of my co-chairs at the Government Transformation Summit discussion was Philippa Manley, Projects and Digital Services Director at HMPO. Philippa shared how successful the department’s transformation has been. It now serves millions of users annually with a much more efficient process - a 90% reduction of inbound enquiries to the call centre stands out - such that the work has won awards and been recognised internationally as a beacon of best practice.

The HMPO case study offers transferrable practical tips to government organisations at the beginning of their own journey. Philippa echoed our own advice with her recommendations:

  • start with a bold and ambitious vision - which crucially must include your people’s part in the process
  • it must also fully embrace digital transformation across all areas of operation, not just tinker with single aspects
  • find a way to test and learn quickly - including experimenting with other organisations’ methods
  • don’t fret if you lack experience - external experts are on hand to partner with you for successful delivery

Transformation today and tomorrow

A digital partner that compliments your existing internal abilities can bring real benefits in all of the aspects outlined above.

Getting the ‘here and now’ work right is vital, but so too is keeping an eye on the future. Does your organisation really want to go through another major transformation process in five years’ time?

This can be avoided by choosing a collaborator that can implement your transformation plan, but also hand over the keys and embed the necessary skills to make the strategy a success in the long term.

Most government organisations I speak to aren’t lacking in courage or the will to change; it’s how to go about it that’s the biggest obstacle.

By choosing a partner with a track-record in digital transformation, and a knack for placing people, processes and products at the core of delivery - as opposed to selecting sticking-plaster technology that soon becomes user-unfriendly or, worse, obsolete - cultural change will follow. 

If done well, that leads directly to delivering the great experience citizens expect while simultaneously introducing massive efficiencies to reinvest into new public services.

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