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Enabling agile digital change

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Join us for a series of roundtables to explore best practice for enabling change that will stick.

2022 saw a significant pivot in digital transformation in the public sector. Where previously we might have seen procurement activity for really quite significant budgets and significant digital change programmes handed to a supplier in their entirety, 2022 saw a shift towards a more cautious, more evidence based, and more outcome focused approach to public sector procurement.

Driven, we think, largely by the influence of the Government Digital Service (GDS) this shift has seen an increasing number of large-scale transformation projects start with a ‘Discovery’ phase, before moving to Alpha, Private Beta and Public Beta before finally being released into the wild. This approach de-risks the change strategy, ensuring that user requirements, and those of all stakeholders are represented in what needs to be built. Today’s public sector services are built ‘for everybody’, digital first, and with security and resilience engineered in – no longer (or at least less likely to be) built to replicate complex paper processes originally established in the Victorian era.

A woman strapping her children into their car seats.

This pivot has also aligned with a shift in the way public sector digital teams are approaching the concept of ‘Agile’ in digital development. Cautionary tales have emerged of digital teams struggling with product management to such an extent, that agile delivery approaches have failed to deliver the outcomes intended. Either teams have failed to focus on the right features for release, resulting in products that may not tackle their original problem effectively, or they have found their releases delayed and compromised as sprint after sprint adds feature after feature to the hopper, while simultaneously struggling to prioritise the nitty gritty work that ensures stable releases. Lots of work, not enough outcomes…

As a purpose led agency, CDS has always sought to ‘make a positive difference’ and to champion the needs of the seldom heard, so in 2020 it made perfect sense to turn what had been a highly productive partnership with Behavioural Insight agency SimpleUsability into a permanent relationship through acquisition. Since that time, the unique skills of the team that came across to CDS from SimpleUsability have accelerated the CDS Insight proposition, so that today, our Insight and Content pillars contribute to every single client problem we solve, aligned to the changes we have seen in the market above.

So, if you are a public sector leader looking to drive digital transformation into your organisation successfully, decrease the risk of failure and improve the lives of those you serve, how do you take advantage of this new CDS ‘superpower’ and get started?  

At CDS we have developed a 4-step process that mirrors both the GDS change process and the principles of Design Thinking and Agile. Following this process creates a fool proof route to transformation that you can be confident will deliver the outcomes you need.

Learn – What needs to change?  

When you look at your current service, can you see what is going wrong in the behaviour of your users or the cost and complication of serving them? What benchmarks do you have? Do you already know what’s going wrong and need to validate this, or are you completely in the dark? Either way, you need to start with a clear understanding of what your users and stakeholders, and I mean ALL of them, want and need from your service. You need to look at this both from a qualitative point of view, listening to the thoughts and needs of those audiences, and from a Data point of view in terms of what the numbers are telling you.

Design – How should it change?  

Once you have a clear view of the needs of your stakeholders, you can begin to define how the service you provide should change. You can apply the principles of service design, user experience design (UX), content strategy and creative strategy to your problem, so that you can have confidence that the changes you make will answer the needs and problems you have identified.

Implement – What should we build?  

Technology is an enabler to the change you need to make, and defining and building the right solution is critical to its success. Whether your requirements are business process outsourcing, cloud and infrastructure services, operational transformation, or experience transformation we use agile – and ‘W’agile methodologies to deliver the outcomes you need within the budget we have agreed.  

Optimise – What impact did we have, and what should change next?  

The ability to look back at the outcomes from the changes we have made versus the benchmarks we set and understand whether we have fulfilled expectations is critical to understanding whether we have been successful. And of course, with digital transformation, there really is no ‘end’ as such – but there is the ability to understand and prioritise what needs to change next in the journey.

In order to bring these principles to life and to provide a learning pathway to enabling digital change that will stick, CDS is running a series of roundtables throughout 2023.  

Aligned to the principles above, we will discuss how to start change well through a Learn phase, how to Design the right change to deliver the outcomes you need and how to define whether you have actually driven the change that you intended through Optimisation.  

These sessions take place at the CDS HQ, Riverside, on Canal Wharf in Leeds, just next to the station, and are facilitated by our subject matter experts. Bring your business problems with you, and think of it as 90 minutes or so of free consultancy... We really hope you can join us.

Learn more about our events here.