Government departments face demands to deliver increasingly complex and more integrated public services for digital-savvy citizens – all while dealing with the impact of austerity and the uncertainties caused by the Pandemic. Users expect simple, quick mechanisms for completing public service transactions and the rise of digital channels, such as GOV.UK, has moved a long way in satisfying this demand, although the government must keep pace with consumer trends.
At the same time, public-sector organisations are tasked with improving staff productivity and efficiency. Technology is a large enabler of this productivity, but IT directorates operate under a number of constraints. They manage large legacy estates, often with the knowledge and control within their supply chains. And past re-organisations have split their strong capabilities across multiple functions, leaving sub-optimal operating models with an over-reliance on the contractor market. Some of the key challenges faced are highlighted below:
In recent years, in order to drive digital and data disruption, many government departments set up separate Chief Digital Officer roles and functions. Government departments are now looking to fully integrate or merge these functions into traditional IT to provide better and more efficient services. Among other challenges this integration requires organisations to seamlessly deliver in both waterfall and Agile approaches.
Public-sector sourcing/best value
To support the government’s drive to achieve ‘best value’ public services must embrace effective strategic planning and sourcing. Through streamlined sourcing processes (e.g. making best use of government frameworks), and effective tender specifications, departments can get the desired strategic outcome efficiently and effectively from the marketplace. To ensure continual best value, commercial teams should periodically assess service value and industry trends through service reviews and benchmarking opportunities to influence contract renewals or inform future sourcing strategies.
Delivering technology transformation while supporting large public-sector programmes requires skilled and experienced staff. Ensuring the right blend of permanent, contractor and supplier personnel, with the right incentives and development, is key to ensuring success.
Large government departments still rely heavily on legacy technology solutions run by third-party suppliers. The latest digital services have created new technology solutions. The adoption of cloud-first and a move towards a cloud-based, microservice architecture requires a huge commercial and technical shift for current legacy solutions. Government departments need to continually re-assess their service boundaries with suppliers, as technology transformations and cloud migrations offer opportunities for different sourcing solutions. The introduction of software-defined networking and cloud security offerings underpin cloud-first architectures, while enabling network security boundaries and control to be shifted. However, departments will need to update their security boundary controls, standards and policies to support these offerings.
Mason Advisory has delivered a range of successful IT programmes for government within the UK and around the world, with the introduction of new, digitally-aligned IT operating models; strategy and sourcing for cloud-first IT architectures; and the design and assurance of critical national infrastructure and communications solutions supporting front-line services; as well as achieving best value through service reviews, benchmarking and effective public-sector procurement.