Management > CIO

Why culture change is a necessity in accelerating public sector digital transformation

Published 31 August 2017

Neill Crump, head of digital transformation at Worcestershire County Council, considers the role culture plays ahead of next week’s OutSystems ‘Accelerating Digital Transformation in the Public Sector’ event


According to the NAO , if we shift services to a digital delivery model, the public sector is estimated to save £1.7bn per year.

Being in the public sector myself, however, I know that this is easier said than done. Although the UK government is strongly advocating digital self-service, it is very difficult for organisations to make this shift, whilst reducing costs and also continuing to deliver a great customer service.

Worcestershire County Council has undergone a digital transformation that has involved cloud, mobile and analytics, and in the next year we will deliver 100 percent of our services online. Customers can now access Council services anytime, anywhere, 24/7 and substantial cost savings are being delivered.  With the aid of OutSystems low-code platform, digital solutions are now being provided three times faster, using the same amount of resources, while reducing the cost of supporting these new applications by 50%.

We will be sharing our journey to digital transformation at an OutSystems event on 5th September 2017, which we are hosting at Worcestershire’s’ Council Chambers.  We will also be discussing the role culture plays in successful transformation.

Right now we need to be highly innovative and do new things in different ways and look for new opportunities.  After many years of austerity measures, there are no longer any easy cost savings. We have trimmed the fat. To accelerate digital requires collaboration and culture change, it requires us to do things radically different. Public sector organisations must look at their culture and people. Employees need to embrace being digital savvy and data driven. We also need to ensure that we embed these skills into each role. Here at Worcestershire we are working with the PPMA, the public service people managers' association, to better understand culture and how culture can enhance digital and data driven transformation. In my view this is all about people and as we drive to deliver better public services so we need to look at ourselves and how we can act differently and challenge the status quo.

In the face of the cutbacks that we have all been challenged with over the last few years, I am finding that there is now a real sense of openness in public sector in terms of learning from each other and understanding what worked and what didn’t. The event on 5th September is not just a council focused event – the event is designed to encompass the whole of the public sector.  The idea being that we can reuse what we have done in one sector with another and as a result work in a much more integrated way.  This will enable us to understand more clearly what other public sectors do and how we can complement each other.

Everyone in public sector has a strong desire to create our services so that they are more impactful. This event will provide an environment where we can expand our learnings out further into other public sector organisations. For example, Worcestershire is about to become the first county to have the UK’s first office of data analytics, jointly funded by different public sector partners including our county council, the NHS, the police and fire services, our local enterprise partnership and, although not funding, the voluntary and community sector are also getting involved.  The idea is that we introduce innovative way of looking at the challenges that we have and using data to bring front line insights that will drive future data driven cultures and digital transformation.

If you are interested in finding out about how to accelerate digital transformation and the role culture plays in this, do join us on the 5th September . We look forward to sharing our experiences and learning valuable insights from others who attend on the day.

Neill Crump is head of digital transformation at Worcestershire County Council

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