By Shweta Babbar, Chief Transformation Officer, Glen Eira City Council
Digital Transformation is a key focus for the public sector, changing the way we serve our communities. Across the board, the sector faces similar hurdles such as legacy systems and silo operations. However, the biggest challenge is the shift of organisational focus from being ‘inside out’ to ‘outside in’. The key to transformation is much more than developing new strategies or moving processes online. The emphasis needs to be on combining human experience with an innovative approach towards service delivery and a sound technical infrastructure. It is critical for your transformation program to maintain a balance between looking after your community experience while keeping your staff effort on mind.
Multifarious challenges are complex and can raise difficult questions:
• Do you spend time improving the foundations or start chipping away at “quick wins”?
• Do you shift existing processes online or reengineer service delivery before implementing digital channels?
• Do you identify the technology first or hire for new skills?
What is the starting point? Have you done enough research? You know only what you know – is that good enough?
These questions represent a new and unique challenge to create a foundation for change at the same time as delivering outcomes. While you want to believe the dots will connect in the future, you also don’t want be a bull in a china shop and bring everything down. It is a mammoth task.
There is no magic recipe for the perfect transformation outcome, but there are certainly some reliable ingredients that will make the journey more successful.
Compelling customer journeys
We live in an experience economy where “the customer is king”.
You can never have a flawless plan. There will be challenges and there will always be opportunities. Be open to adopt and transform as you evolve
Therefore reform must be defined and prioritized through a robust understanding of the customer’s wing to wing journey. Work on the entire customer journey spectrum where possible and avoid shifting bottlenecks from one process phase to another. Be obsessed with your customers and provide the opportunity for them to help redesign the service models.
Be ready for a marathon but enjoy the sprints too
When you inherit legacy systems, the road ahead can look bumpy. Changing your information architecture landscape can take several years of grunt work. While you do the necessary work to invigorate your foundations, you can get momentum by delivering on Quick Wins. Immediate and visible improvements such as close loop processes or expanding your knowledge bank can help your transformation impetus and also provide opportunities for engagement and learning. The key is to embrace the breadth and depth of systems and processes and be ready to learn as you go.
One size does not fit all
Have a multi-pronged approach by utilising treatment optimisation. Adopt different methods, tools and strategies depending on the situation rather than defaulting to a high-level, unilateral methodology of transformation. Start quickly. Learn quickly. Evolve quickly.
Bring your people along
Have a comprehensive plan to manage cultural change from the start. Create an environment where people can discuss their fears, reasons and obstacles openly, and then involve them in finding the solutions. Invest in staff to uplift their skills and capability and make them feel valued. Recognise and champion the attitude that learning, adaptation and change are the new norms and you will foster a culture of continuous improvement that is necessary for transformation.
Innovation is mostly disruptive
Acknowledge that transforming will get disruptive and, since you don’t want to bring the entire house down, you have to understand how much you can stretch the band. I generally follow the rule of thumb that 70 percent of effort is on improving the pain points for business as usual; 20 percent addresses the transition space where the focus is on more than just continuous improvement; and 10 percent is focussed on the avant-garde initiatives that are ground breaking.
You can never have a flawless plan. There will be roadblocks and there will always be solutions. It isn’t easy to soar up in the sky at the same time as driving your roots deep in the ground. Successful transformation programs have to challenge the status quo and you will need passion to collaboratively seek smart solutions. Be a leader that has a tactful mind to foster creative solutions and a warm heart to acknowledge and celebrate effort and contributions.