Sunday, 12 June 2016

Defining transformation to a wider audience

For the past month I've been putting together a paper on the next steps of digital transformation, for the organisation I work for. I'm proposing we look at two capabilities and two business areas, and if approved I'll be writing more about it.

It's been a great exercise in gathering my thoughts and helping me to define digital transformation to a wider audience and how it fits into the bigger picture of service improvement.

Here's some of the stuff I've learnt or had affirmed:

Transformation, digital or not, starts with understanding the needs of the user through research. This should be obvious, but in local government too often I've seen "build it and they will come" approach applied.

It's unlikely a commercial operation would launch a new product without first researching the market, so why would a digital service be any difference?

A couple of years ago I wrote how the phrase "digital transformation" was hindering digital transformation.

People get it if you explain things using terms they understand. So for example, a discovery phase is somewhat similar to a feasibility study, except it's part of the project.  At LocalGovCamp this year someone told us that they explained continuous improvements as "scheduled maintenance".

As with most communication, you need to tailor your language for the audience and digital transformation is no different.

A discovery phase doesn't always lead to an alpha phase, or a digital service. Here's a good example of not delivering a digital service, where the discovery phase of a DWP project was used to improve their telephone service based on user need.

Yes, very often your discovery phase will conclude that a digital is the better, cheaper way to deliver a service, but your project should focus on service improvement, not digital.

Work to a single vision by agreeing a set of principles. Explain how they differ from traditional practice and give a practical example of what this means. I created these principles with the help of Ben CheethamJames Gore, and Rob Miller.

Use these principles this to evaluate where your each part of your organisation is in terms of transformation, where the opportunities are and where need more investment.

"Channel Shift" is term that's used less and less these days, It's from a past era when most websites just delivered information, not services.

It is still valid however, so long as it comes at the end of the work. Research and redesign what you offer your users, develop and launch your digital service, and only then look to promote it to users over other channels.

I hope this is useful and if your organisation is approaching a new phrase of transformation, I'd love to hear your insights too.
This blog is written by Phil Rumens, Vice-Chair of LocalGov Digital, lead for LGMakers and who manages the digital services team at a local authority in England.

The opinions expressed in this weblog are my own personal views and in no way represent any organisation I may have worked for, currently work for, might be thinking of working for, might not be thinking of working for or have never worked for. In fact having said that they, might not even be my views any more as I might have changed my mind so I wouldn't take any of it too seriously.