With the potential for enormous benefits, digital transformation is a major priority across the public sector. However, it remains a major challenge to bring about real, meaningful change. Culture is the biggest barrier to digital transformation, and now is a great time to address it.
Digital transformation allows the centralising of data and access to that data in a way that facilitates new and more agile practices, innovation and efficiency which suits each unique individual and their role. It allows organisations to understand that everyone is a contributor to both the organisation, and the most productive ways of working. Beyond this, it’s also realising that the tools that people need to do their jobs today will not be the same as they need tomorrow.
When it comes to digital change, technology is making such rapid leaps forward every day that public sector organisations must adapt to continue to keep up to date, safe and efficient. With budgets under more pressure than ever before in the public sector, it sounds simple to improve digital processes to save money and work more efficiently. However, resistance and fear of change is a major issue. Change can be can be hard, and it takes us away from what we know, trust and understand.
The public sector challenge
Digital transformation can be a particular challenge for the public sector. Public sector organisations are complex with diverse departments that adhere to strict policies and processes; ‘work’ is wide ranging and it takes place in multiple locations with myriad pieces of software and hardware.
Moving from a traditionally top down structure with hierarchical governance to one that embraces multiple ways of working can be a challenge. Embracing this method of working is a major cultural shift. The secret ingredient to inspire meaningful and progressive change, is a shift in the working behaviour of staff. Resistance to change from individuals, departments and whole organisations is what must be addressed.
In order to do that, organisations need support and advice about how to move to more consultative and collaborative structures. By working in more of a consultative manor with all staff, organisations will gain incredibly valuable information about how they can deliver performance improvements and what tools they need to do that work better. Trusting users to do their job and allowing them the ability to access and use the data they need is not only more effective, it will also lead to more engaged and valued staff.
Encouraging cultural change
Training and education is key to help explain to organisations how they can best navigate digital transformation. The approach towards education must be two-fold. Firstly, IT departments must be properly trained in how to keep such open systems secure and working effectively. IT departments can become meaningful agents for change within their organisations if they are confident and knowledgeable about how they can empower other staff.
Secondly, education must take place with the wider staff about how they can make best use of the tools available. Empowering staff with the tools, training and knowledge they need will make them happier, more productive and ultimately more effective in their jobs.
A shift in culture needs to occur across all levels of the organisation, and although this kind of strategy focuses on ground-up change, ongoing senior level buy-in is critical to ensure change is being supported and encouraged throughout the organisation. Digital transformation needs a considered approach of engagement from all stakeholders to break free from limitations both internal and external.
By embracing the right digital tools for your unique organisation and listening to each and every employee that uses them you will be setting yourself up for digital success. Organisations must properly engage with individuals and move from a top down strategy, to one that listens to and educates everyone. They can then move towards real digital transformation knowing that they are still operating safely and securely, but also more effectively.
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