Unlocking employee passion to accelerate policy agility and public sector transformation

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A recent McKinsey study has indicated that CIOs in the public sector have increased budgets and expectations to plan for in 2023, with government IT spending worldwide forecast to grow 6.8%, to a new high of $589bn (USD)*.

This anticipated increase in government spending on IT is based on a remit to accelerate legacy modernisation efforts with a greater focus on citizen interactions.

With these heighted expectations also comes the scrutiny of spending public funds for the right citizen outcomes. This can be a particular challenge for delivery of transformational solutions in the public sector, with failure to achieve benefits

How does a CIO in the public sector beat these odds to oversee successful transformations?

The CIO does this through a story of enablement, leveraging the competitive advantage the public sector has over the private. This competitive advantage is visible in the passion and commitment of many public sector employees for the work they do for citizens at every level of the public service.  

The passion and commitment we have seen is more evident in the last few years working across government clients than in the previous many years in the private sector. As soon as the lift doors open, we hear stories of how long they’ve been working in their area, and what it means for citizen outcomes, right from CIO level to junior Business Analysts.

Consider the impact CIOs can harness from this group by working on how to unlock and channel more of this passion into transforming the way they deliver to citizens.

Agile principles are a natural match to leverage the power of people and adapt to continued legislation and policy change, once modified for the government context. Concepts with agile like prioritised scope and product owners need modification to translate into delivering to public commitments and multi-department stakeholders.

Policy agility draws on agile principles and focusses on enablement for the public sector to deliver citizen outcomes across people, process and technology.

Here are three ways public sector CIO’s can drive higher transformation success rates through policy agility enablement:

  1. People – Ensure all people (including supplier teams) on a project speak the same ‘language’ and understand what’s expected of them through greater investment in project formation stages, agile processes, and project responsibilities. This shared baseline and clarity, the drive for common outcomes will build bonds between teams who’ve never worked together before and reduce timeline risk from ineffective communication.

  2. Process – Detailed definition of requirements is a must and can be easily blended with agile taxonomies of Epics and User stories that bundle requirements for incremental value delivery. Periods of requirements definition that align with budget cycles gives projects the best of both worlds with more accurate cost forecasts and accelerated value realisation.

  3. Technology – Consider tools to support subject matter experts to scale and document their knowledge before delivery begins to reduce key person risk and increase velocity. Next generation reg-tech tools can ingest legislation and policy documents to define rule relationships and calculate payment outcomes with minimal human intervention. This can be used during delivery as part of the requirements process or for comparison runs with the legacy system. After delivery, this tool can be become an asset for the department/agency as part of a knowledge repository for ongoing enablement and even citizen self-service.

CIO’s can increase the successful delivery of transformational public sector programs through the dual focus of unlocking the capability of their teams and the right selection of low/no code solutions.

This will drive greater delivery scale and velocity and create future flexibility to respond to legislation and policy change efficiently, accelerating the ability for departments to implement changes and deliver outcomes for citizens


Putting people first in public-sector transformations | McKinsey

Gartner Forecasts Worldwide Government IT Spending to Grow 6.8% in 2023

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