Many organisations start building digital processes and solutions without having the right skills and resources. It might sound obvious but I have seen this happen over and over again when the right resources are not in place. The question is, would you have a finance accountant doing network security, or a programmer doing knee surgery? So why would you let this happen in digital? If you are serious, make sure you find the right skills, even outside your current organisation. It will pay off.
So you’ve recognised you need to make a major change in your organisation. In fact, you’re looking to review your whole business and will be transforming it into an entity that can keep up with competitors, make use of new technologies, put in place processes that allow a better quality of delivery and service that best suits your customer’s needs and potentially be able to spread out into other markets. Wow, that’s a big change, in fact where do you even start?
You start by looking at the skills required to make these changes and the people that can help make this happen. Making any form of change, especially if concentrating on your digital strategy, requires the right people with the right skill set. You may have developers but you wouldn’t expect them to look at network security, so expecting your existing employees to fill the gaps and make your transformation successful is not realistic.
Filling knowledge and skills gaps
You may have employees that currently have some or most of the skills required and definitely have the aptitude to take on new roles and responsibilities. If that’s the case, start talking to them and get a training plan in place. However, to really get your transformation moving, you will need to seriously consider looking outside your organisation to find those people who already have the knowledge to deliver.
To do this you may need to consider taking on specialists who can train your existing staff while putting in place the building blocks for areas of your transformation. This may be a consultant or contractor for a long-term contract. Whilst the initial outlay may seem like a large overhead, if you can find the right partners who can track down people with the skills required, having these specialists on board will make a huge impact.
Empowering specialists was key in the Gov.UK digital transformation
When the cabinet office decided something had to change in the creation of policies and the sharing of that information, they asked an outside, independent specialist to review their current processes.
In 2009, Martha Lane Fox was asked to present a report on the ‘Future of Policy Making’. The conclusion of this was that unless a major change was achieved the future of Whitehall would be unstable. She suggested replacing top-down accountability with bottom-up mechanisms so ministers and civil servants would be able to make policy better.
So, based on this report, a massive scope of change was planned by the Government and from this, GDS (Government Digital Services) was born. The vision was not only to improve how policies were created, but it also had to take into account that people needed to understand them and be able to find the information in one place with one clear voice.
A strong belief and sponsorship from the top of the organisation were key to support the changes needed. They allowed civil servants – who knew what citizens needed – to make decisions on streamlining the content they wanted to share and the transactions that were most needed. They also talked directly to users, to understand their key needs and frustrations and concentrated on solutions to these needs from the outset.
More than two years after they started development, they managed to transform 25 UK Government services, principally by finding the right people with the right skills, delivering training and involving the right people across government departments and putting the citizen (user) first.
These civil servants are now able to directly update the service and creation of policy has become more transparent. This was achieved by using agile and DevOps principles, fail fast ideology, gathering people with the right skills, putting users first, making as many processes automated to remove risk and create a stable and usable environment. Teams now take ownership of support, and focus on a constant iterative improvement cycle, bringing in more departments to the service.
GOV.UK is one of the most successful digital transformation programmes in recent years and it continues to work because the people who knew what was needed were given the power to find the right people to help them achieve it.