At an event last year on digital transformation in the public sector organised by Eduserv, speakers and delegates discussed their experiences on the ground. One particular area of agreement was the risk that digital transformation initiatives will be simply perceived as yet another change project.

How can your digital transformation project succeed faced with these challenges? By engaging with key stakeholder groups to build on the growing awareness across the public sector of the benefits of the digital first approach.

7 key stakeholder groups to engage

Getting these key stakeholders on board will give you a much better chance of rolling out the benefits of digital transformation successfully:

1. Senior Management

In public sector organisations, building momentum for change can be challenging. Public spending cuts have taken their toll on the availability of resources and specialist expertise, and ongoing budgetary constraints continue to limit the change initiatives that organisations are able to commit to. Often, the best way to accelerate the process is to obtain buy-in at the highest level.

Getting senior managers on side who are able to articulate the organisational benefits in the language that their peers will readily grasp can put your digital transformation project on the fast track. These forward-thinking individuals will often play an evangelist role in promoting your digital transformation and ensuring that effective program management is put in place. This helps to release funding, in the first instance, and then eases roll-out across the user base. Once senior management have accepted the need to adopt an agile approach to digital transformation, they will be a crucial part of driving forward your plans throughout the organisation.

2. The IT Department

Even with the infrastructure-light requirements of cloud-based services and the collaborative approach of successful digital transformation initiatives, IT remains a crucial stakeholder. As Computer Weekly has pointed out, digital transformation does not mean a wholesale replacement of existing technologies. Instead, for example, cloud technologies that flex and scale should combine with existing on-premises applications and infrastructure, while APIs can enable the integration of core systems to streamline processes and unlock new services. Closely collaborating with IT in an agile way will minimise any system roadblocks and smooth the path to a digital-first organisation. At Eduserv’s Digital Transformation event, the point was made that aligning IT with business objectives is crucial, and so IT needs to play a central planning role.

3. Finance

Digital transformation can be particularly challenging when it comes to securing the necessary budget. If Finance can see a clear return on investment, they are more likely to approve the necessary funding. As well as demonstrating value for money, you should explain how digital transformation will deliver increased productivity. Where there are efficiency gains, there are clear benefits to the bottom line, which will help to bolster your argument for transformation. But Finance stands to make its own gains from digital transformation, and you can strengthen your case by pointing them out. As Ernst and Young reported in Imagining the Digital Future, Government departments are looking to new technologies to increase revenue collections and identify fraud, for example. New cloud-based platforms can also make operations such as budgeting and procurement much easier through integrated finance management information systems.  

4. Procurement

Your colleagues in Procurement can play an invaluable role in keeping the costs of your Digital Transformation project down. But to do this, Procurement needs a thorough understanding of digital transformation and the new approaches it brings into play. In a  Deloitte survey, 76 percent of public sector leaders believe that procurement professionals need to work in a more agile way to accommodate the specifics of digital transformation and allow for more flexible terms and conditions.

5. Human Resources

In the Deloitte survey of public sector leaders, only 33% of respondents believed that their organisation was well positioned to obtain the skills needed for digital transformation.

Human Resources can ultimately become one of your biggest digital transformation allies as recruiters embrace new digital models to attract and access talent that might have previously not considered working for the public sector. The Cabinet Office’s Government Digital Services programme and organisations such as Futuregov are prime examples of a digital approach helping to service the public sector’s needs creatively.

6. Marketing and Communications

Marketing and communication teams are key to transmitting the positive values of change, to both internal and external users. It’s your job to work with these teams, explaining the proposals and signposting success stories from an early stage, since they can help to reassure the public that there’s a positive road ahead.

7. The Public

A successful digital transformation project requires strong levels of awareness among the public, whose expectations of improved services can be an extremely effective driver for change. To serve the public well, it’s vital to identify the specific customers that you’re aiming to assist digitally (as a digital approach will not be appropriate for every public sector customer, particularly vulnerable users) and understand a range of typical customer journeys.

If you can do this, as well as clearly communicating to customers that parts of their digital experience are still evolving (e.g. if they’re accessing a beta service), then you’ll create a positive relationship with the public that can help to support your digital transformation efforts.The power of public endorsement will validate the positive messages your project is sending out, while energising your internal staff and putting the right pressure on the other stakeholders you’ve identified.

Making a strategic plan

Digital transformation depends on selling an organisation-wide vision. Identifying the right stakeholders isn’t about dividing and conquering, but rather understanding who has influence and who can sponsor the change you need. Delivering continuous improvement has to involve the right stakeholders, and securing their buy-in starts with a robust understanding of what they can add to your digital transformation initiative and how they stand to gain from it.

  • Public sector IT professionals need to secure buy-in from a range of stakeholders for digital transformation projects.
  • Getting buy-in from the right stakeholders can drive the change the organisation requires.
  • Digital transformation depends on balancing an organisation-wide vision with department-specific benefits.

Digital Transformation, Public Sector