Dr Grainne Watson, Chief Digital Officer of Searchlight Consulting, emphasizes the importance of preparation and alignment when planning a successful technology change program
Across the UK public sector, organizations face a variety of challenges ranging from legacy technical debt to skills and funding shortages. Like business solutions before it, digital services are offered as the panacea for addressing these challenges.
While business solutions and digital services are undoubtedly necessary, they alone are not a silver bullet to the myriad of underlying challenges. Rather, a change agenda where people and technology are the center of attention ensures that challenges are met, addressed, and solutions stand the test of time for continued success. Searchlight has been implementing business solutions for over 20 years, and focusing on technology first rarely delivers the desired benefits.
For example, encapsulating digital services around legacy applications and technologies, integrating new interfaces aimed at citizens, or trying to overlay automated paperless processes will solve some challenges, but without understanding the path of the problem will usually not provide. not the flexibility to really allow for new ways of working. Likewise, focusing today on an end user and offering a change management program will ignore technology and its limitations.
Across the public sector, organizations are already planning or actively investing in technology-based change programs.
Programs which, they hope, will offer improved services and can be offered within the framework of increasingly demanding budgetary constraints. Below, we offer three proven methods to ensure success.
Set realistic goals
Both polls and misconceptions suggest that less than 30% of technology-driven change and digital transformation programs are successful in fully achieving their goals, with most falling on time and on budget. At Searchlight, we frequently find that complexity is rarely assessed until the program has already started to deviate from its course. These projects and programs are complex because they are multifaceted, including technologies, information, processes and people, but seldom manage them all successfully.
Technology, for example, is frequently purchased before all requirements are properly assessed, meaning that stakeholders unfamiliar with the technology tend to expect the technology to provide them with what they need. As a result, delivery expectations are skyrocketing. When these expectations are not met, the project is not considered a success. Conversely, when a project is planned with all stakeholders involved, expectations are set at achievable levels and requirements are in place before any technology is purchased, removing one of the most common failure pathways. more common. Once you have realistically defined your goals, the next step is to assess your organization’s readiness for change.
Evaluate current working methods and plan for change
As organizations evolve, they move beyond their ways of working and operating platforms, which means their processes, organizational structure, and the technology that supports them need to be overhauled. You can’t go digital in six weeks if the vast majority of your organization is still paper-based.
Likewise, stand-alone systems won’t work well if your organization is hierarchical and requires top-level decision makers to approve minor changes. Instead, your organization will shut down. To avoid this, it is best to assess the way you work before planning your change program. For example, one of our public sector clients in the healthcare sector was about to embark on a large-scale technological change program. Once they set their realistic goals, they asked us to assess their working methods, advise on a delivery methodology and support the implementation of the chosen methodology to ensure that it could be delivered efficiently on time and on budget.
Although the team developed an effective delivery framework, we found that even if people understood it, it needed further integration and although it was a useful framework, it would not work in its own right. completeness for all programs.
The framework had to be tailored and prescriptive down to individual team members to ensure that deliverables were understood, clearly defined in the delivery lifecycle, and achievable. From the start, all stakeholders were therefore aware of the intention of the overall program, of this specific project and of what was required of them to implement it. While it may seem simple, it is often not done well, leading to siled delivery flows and the start of another frequent path to failure.
Manage your projects and programs throughout
Having worked across a wide range of industries (commercial and public sector) to help our clients develop their business capabilities and leverage technology to drive business improvement and deliver tangible business results, we have identified our last way to avoid failure: continuous alignment.
Having a governing coalition that spans the entire organization, trusts and comes together to discuss issues as well as successes will fulfill its obligations to ensure success. Frequently, project meetings gloss over challenges while delivering good news. This takes the focus away from the ongoing effort required to resolve issues and deliver results to all stakeholders and against all measures. Likewise, prioritizing recommendations for improvement and monitoring the implementation of all agreed interventions will ensure the success of projects.
Delivering technology programs can be difficult, but if the pitfalls are avoided through effective planning and actions, organizations will produce transformative results. As with all technology-based change initiatives, there are roles that will require specialist skills and specific experience and Searchlight is in a privileged position to support the UK public sector in this quest. We have been appointed to three Crown Commercial Service (CCS) executives focused on helping central, local government and other public sector buyers with their digital, cloud and back-office transformation programs – RM6193 Software Design & Implementation Services ( SDIS), G-Cloud 12 for cloud and DOS 5 support services.
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