Now is the time to take back control of digital transformation from COVID-19: White paper

With many digital transformation plans accelerated during the COVID-19 lockdown, many organisations are left asking; “What took us so long?”

  • New white paper details the 5 factors for successful digital transformation in the post COVID-19 environment

  • White Paper consolidates the discussions of the 30+ public sector CIOs/CTOs who attended Brightman’s Digital Transformation event in Bristol, 12th March 2020

  • Download the white paper here

Today we have launched a new white paper which details how to deliver long-term, sustainable digital transformation of the public sector in the post COVID-19 environment.

The white paper, titled BACK IN THE DRIVING SEAT: How to drive digital transformation without the need for COVID-19,” is the first in a series of new papers which draw on the discussions of the 30+ public sector CIOs and CTOs who attended our “Digital Transformation in the Public Sector” event in Bristol, 12th March 2020. Future papers will look at topics such as cloud migration, the impact of change on the supply chain and the impact of digitisation on the IT operation model, which were all tackled by the delegates at the event.

Commenting on the context in which the white paper has launched, Romy Hughes, director at Brightman says “The COVID-19 lockdown was an unprecedented situation which required organisations to accelerate their existing transformation plan, or if they didn’t have one, to develop it as they went along. The speed at which organisations were able to deliver homeworking for example was staggering, and is a testament to the speed at which decisions were made and the hard work of those who made it happen. But it also leaves many organisations to ask themselves ‘what took us so long?’”

COVID-19 took away the excuses not to implement change. The business cases for digital transformation e.g. “paperless” “contactless” and “mobility” etc. were compelling enough long before COVID-19 ever entered our vocabulary. Coronavirus simply accelerated the change because there were no more excuses not to do it.

But now is the time to shift gears. COVID-19 has effectively been in the driving seat of digital transformation since March, but you can only operate on a crisis footing for so long. Organisations need to take back control of their transformation to ensure the change remains positive, successful and sustainable. We have had clients come to us and say they implemented 18-month transformation plans in just 6 weeks. But when things are rushed, things can be missed; so while it is very impressive that so many organisations were able to deliver homeworking so quickly for example, now is the time to conduct due diligence to ensure that problems won’t materialise further down the line. It is for this reason that we have compiled this white paper at this time.”

5 factors to deliver transformation

The white paper tackles the following five factors that are necessary to deliver successful transformation.

  1. The need for leadership: It is critical to have top level buy-in when embarking on the transformation journey; without this and the ambition to succeed, there is little chance of success.

  2. Cultural change and buy-in: Managing the people and the cultural change of transformation is often more difficult than the technology, but it is often left out of the equation or simply an afterthought. No change can be undertaken successfully without the people delivering that change being bought into it.

  3. The need for a programme manager: Having the budget is not enough. The first question to answer is who is going to run the programme? Would it be an IT specialist, a generalist or an operations specialist who has already run a similar programme? Ideally you would need a programme manager and a transition manager to be effective.

  4. An appetite for risk: The level of risk appetite is always going to be a factor in managing a programme of this size and nature. The correct use of a risk register and managing and understanding and even accepting the risks involved is a key element of programme management and will help to drive the programme forward.

  5. It’s not just about the cloud: Digital transformation could involve a move to the Cloud, but equally and more likely there will be a hybrid model, where legacy platforms may stay on premises, some in datacentres and some in the Cloud. “Cloud First” is no longer government policy, so organisations have the opportunity for more flexibility in their approach.

Quoting directly from the white paper (page 3):

“Digital Transformation is nothing more than business transformation, with a bit of tech added. It is not an IT project, so it should not be driven by IT. And since digital transformation is business transformation, it must be fed down and communicated into every department’s strategy and beyond.

Were the original drivers of these initiatives (cost saving, efficiency, service improvement) simply too weak to break the status quo? Did we really need a global pandemic to shunt people into action? Those organisations that already understood the benefits of digital transformation have been reaping the benefits ever since the virus struck – their staff have been working from home, with policy and technology already aligned with this new normal. But many didn’t. What was the difference? Is it all about the motivation? – COVID-19 simply added the urgency to cut out the noise and move plans forward. It removed all of the debate and reasons not to do it.

Transformation has many compelling business reasons, and those reasons will evolve over time. Most recently the coronavirus lockdown provided the strongest business case yet. We have known about the benefits of working from home for many years, and many organisations already had strategies to deliver it – they had articulated the benefits, calculated the ROI, mapped out the requirements, some had even decided which software to use – but still it took the compelling event of a global pandemic to enact these strategies."

Download a copy of the white paper here.

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