Building a plane while you fly it: challenges in public sector digital transformation

Pegasystems Pty Ltd

By Rob Bollard*
Tuesday, 04 June, 2024

Building a plane while you fly it: challenges in public sector digital transformation

Although vital, digital transformation can become a serious pain point across industries. In the public sector this rings true, as many large-scale transformation projects end up facing significant delays and cost overruns, undermining stakeholder confidence. Therefore, there is growing sentiment within government agencies to switch focus towards smaller more agile transformations to deliver value faster, build stakeholder trust and avoid the risks that follow large and costly digital transformation projects. When it comes to achieving different agency and operational outcomes, this stands out as the best path forward.

Evolving challenges require evolving solutions

When undertaking digital transformation in the public sector, it is never the current or future state that presents the biggest challenge for agencies, but rather the complex journey of transition from old to new systems without friction — all while continuing to manage risk, value and change. Unfortunately, government agencies cannot freeze time to focus on overhauling legacy systems. However, the public sector can continually refine and update improved capability to deliver on organisational outcomes.

For large government agencies, this is especially true, as they must navigate significant complexities on a much larger scale. Although this doesn’t mean that it is smooth sailing for smaller agencies, as platforms need to remain citizen-centric; achieving the needs and demands of citizens while seamlessly connecting with different agencies across the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. As such, the growing appetite for this connected government requires a new way of thinking that has an impact beyond technology, but also on people, processes and culture.

To set the foundation, the public sector must consider a platform-based approach for delivery that creates and sustains a layer of agility — overcoming the often complex and aging technology estate used by government agencies. This will act as a foundational enabler, supporting agencies to better navigate the challenges of digital transformation and mitigate the risk of ongoing change.

Agility at the core

Agility within government technology can be accomplished through a dynamic platform that facilitates flexible, rapid and efficient adaptation of IT systems and processes through user journeys. This enterprise platform will act as a bridge between traditional legacy systems and modern, nimble technologies. Comprised of a set of tools, methodologies and best practices, it will empower the public sector to swiftly respond to changing demands, technological advancements and citizen expectations.

Taking a ‘bite sized’ approach to digital innovation — as opposed to the ‘big bang all at once’ style delivery that government departments typically carry out — is more likely to deliver real value for the citizens over time.

A key benefit for government agencies when adopting a platform-based approach is the improvement of operational efficiency. Integrating flexible methodologies, automation, DevOps practice, continuous delivery and more allows agencies to streamline IT workflows: minimising manual intervention and errors, while accelerating the delivery of services. This expedites the opportunity for governments to optimise resources, productivity and operational efficiency.

Pivotal to IT transformation is scalability and flexibility. Achieving this becomes possible when implementing an agility layer, as it provides agencies the ability to scale their IT infrastructure effortlessly. It could be accommodating for an influx of user traffic, onboarding new applications or expanding to a new program of work — the agility layer will ensure IT ecosystems within agencies can adapt as needed. Furthermore, agencies will then be able to pivot, innovate and experiment with new technologies without disrupting existing operations or citizen experiences.

Enhanced with responsible AI

The ever-evolving digital landscape has seen data-driven and responsible artificial intelligence (AI) become integral to the success of organisations. When this AI is intertwined with the agility layer within government agencies, they are empowered with real-time analytics, automation, insights and decision support.

This approach will strengthen the ability for agencies to make informed, engaged and instantaneous decisions that improve the ability to identify trends, drive efficiency and effectiveness, and overcome operational bottlenecks — all of which is imperative to delivering improved strategic and operational outcomes.

During my time undertaking many public sector transformation projects, it has become my opinion that governments must seriously consider a platform approach to delivery. Embracing the agility layer will not only futureproof IT infrastructure but also positions the public sector as leaders in the digital era — at a time where this is increasingly needed. As government agencies continue to evolve, the agility layer stands as a beacon, offering the opportunity for seamless change management, innovation and unparalleled success in the changing digital world.

*Rob Bollard is the Industry Principal – Public Sector, APJ at Pegasystems. With two decades’ experience in the public sector, previously working as CIO for IP Australia, he now focuses on transforming customer experience within government agencies and public sector organisations.

Top image credit:

Related Articles

Automated decision-making systems: ensuring transparency

Ensuring transparency is essential in government decision-making when using AI and automated...

Interview: Ryan van Leent, SAP Global Public Services

In our annual Leaders in Technology series, we ask the experts what the year ahead holds. Today...

AI in health care: the burning question that will only be answered with time

We are at an exciting juncture in our global healthcare journey, and AI’s arrival and...

  • All content Copyright © 2024 Westwick-Farrow Pty Ltd