Public services are often deeply rooted in regulation, rules and assumptions. Their nature is diverse, including more administrative procedures, to things like seeing a doctor, using public transport or reporting a crime. They make up some of the most essential processes in our society.

Due to their prevalence and critical importance, it is of course welcome that we seek to improve these services through the use of technology. But what this does mean, is that technological change must happen in a considerate manner, incorporating the needs and values that both policy and wider infrastructures demand of it.

Procurement for new digital services should be approached with an understanding of the problems being addressed. Poor planning and informational gaps may lead to failed digitalisation projects.

So what are some of the benefits of digitalisation?

Efficiency and Cost-Savings

Digitalisation enhances operational efficiency in the public sector by automating tasks, reducing paperwork, and streamlining processes. Technologies like digital document management systems and robotic process automation (RPA) software minimise manual errors and speed up administrative tasks. Integration of enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems across departments optimises workflows and saves resources.

Enhanced Service Delivery

Digitalisation improves accessibility and responsiveness of public services, enhancing citizen satisfaction. User-friendly websites and mobile apps offer convenient access to government services, while data analytics and artificial intelligence personalise services and anticipate citizen needs. Chatbots and virtual assistants improve customer service by providing immediate responses and guidance.

Innovation and Collaboration

Digitalisation fosters collaboration and innovation in the public sector through open data initiatives and partnerships. Open data initiatives encourage innovation by making government data accessible for entrepreneurs and researchers to create new services. Public-private partnerships (PPPs) leverage expertise and resources to address societal challenges, while collaborative platforms enhance inter-agency communication and coordination for more integrated service delivery.

 

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Key considerations in approach

These benefits are well known. The real question, is what considerations public sector workers should prioritise when venturing into digitalisation projects.

1.     Future Proofing, Agility and Interoperability

With the technological lifecycle seemingly continuing on its path of acceleration, it can be very easy to fall into a trap of implementing tech which quickly becomes outdated. It would seem difficult to avoid, but there are feasible measures to take which can avoid this. Choosing infrastructure which can more easily be updated is an option.

Appropriate technologies should be selected on their feasible compatibility with existing systems, or considered as a complete system overhaul if necessary. It’s getting stuck between the two which is the real danger – new tech and systems might seem fancy on their own, but if they can’t successfully integrate with other necessary infrastructure, they can end up being barriers.

Caution is essential, as some government departments may have legacy contracts or software licensing agreements that necessitate scrutiny. While many new technological solutions are cloud-based, certain government systems may restrict third-party or cloud software usage. Thorough research is pivotal.

2.     Project Objectives and Stakeholder Engagement

To ensure successful transitions in digitalisation projects within the public sector, thorough planning and stakeholder engagement are paramount. This involves analysing user workflows and functionalities, pinpointing areas for substantial change, and aligning objectives with organisational goals. It's crucial to define clear, measurable project objectives that cater to enhancing service delivery, improving efficiency, or increasing transparency.

Early engagement with stakeholders, including government agencies, end-users, citizens, and regulatory bodies, is essential to gather insights into their needs, expectations, and concerns. Effective stakeholder engagement entails fostering inclusive participation and collaboration throughout the project lifecycle, ensuring diverse perspectives are considered.

Moreover, proactive identification and mitigation of risks, including technical, financial, regulatory, and operational challenges, are vital for project resilience. Lastly, adherence to legal, regulatory, and compliance requirements is essential to promote transparency, fairness, and accountability in procurement processes and contract management.

3.     Cybersecurity and Data Protection

Cyber threats are very much on the rise. Security measures encompass a wide range of strategies and technologies aimed at protecting sensitive data, systems, and networks from unauthorised access, data breaches, and cyberattacks.

Public sector officials must implement encryption techniques to secure data both in transit and at rest, ensuring that it remains confidential and tamper-proof. Regular security audits and vulnerability assessments help identify and address potential weaknesses in systems and networks, reducing the likelihood of successful cyberattacks.

Moreover, employee training plays a crucial role in maintaining cybersecurity posture. Public sector staff should receive ongoing education and awareness programs to understand cybersecurity best practices, recognise common threats such as phishing attacks, and respond appropriately to security incidents.

Public sector officials must ensure that their digitalisation projects adhere to regulation like GDPRR, which often dictate strict requirements for the collection, storage, and processing of personal and sensitive data. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in severe penalties and reputational damage for government agencies.

Gain Independent Technology Advice From StableLogic

With over 30 years of experience, StableLogic are strategically positioned to lead your next project to scope and to budget. We can assist in every stage, from a full review of your entire network service to contract benchmarking and defining a strategy and roadmap to remediate and transform those services. Contact us today to find out how we can assist with your digitalisation project.

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