6. Transforming Government
The transformation of public services requires national and local governments and NHS bodies to become digital organisations. They will be built on digital business models that take advantage of the opportunities of digital technology. This means that public sector organisations will:
- focus their resources on the things that matter most to people, with innovation that improves the experiences of their users, reflects local circumstances, and ensures their wellbeing;
- publish data to improve and integrate the services they offer and ensuring that they are accountable to the people they serve;
- work as part of a network of organisations, including businesses and the third sector to take advantage of the things we all do best;
- design, develop and procure services ‘once for Scotland’ to save time and money, create greener services that help deliver a net zero society, and offer a more consistent experience to our users;
- automate our back office processes to improve efficiency and free up resources for the front line; and
- have the leadership, skills and culture to take advantage of the opportunities of data and digital technology.
The pandemic has highlighted the potential benefits of the greater use of home and remote working supported by digital connectivity and technology. This could, if developed properly, and with the engagement and support of public sector staff to ensure that their wellbeing is safeguarded, have a significant impact on both efficiency and carbon footprint.
Reform of this nature will take time. Not only does it require government to build new and effective operating platforms, it requires government to remove the legacy systems and replace long established practices to take advantage of them and embrace new working practices. It requires a relentless focus on operating efficiency with automation and spending controls on back office processes, so that we can invest in services that meet local needs. In short, it requires, the transformation of Government.
Potential actions to Transform Government
- Changing our culture: We will develop and sustain the cultures and working practices required to be successful in the digital age and enhance wellbeing. This starts with the use of technology to extend and embed the principles of open government by enabling greater accountability and community engagement. In this way we will foster and sustain agile working, greater collaboration and data sharing within and across organisations.
- Drive efficiency to release more capacity for the delivery of frontline services: In line with the infrastructure investment plans to develop a new, system-wide infrastructure investment assessment and prioritisation framework, we will establish a public sector centre of excellence for process automation to reduce the need for staff to undertake repetitive and administrative tasks. This will commission joint projects and share information about ‘what works’ to avoid unnecessary and often costly repetition of work. We will work with individual organisations to encourage them to focus on operational efficiency and deliver greener services. Within Scottish Government, we will introduce spend controls on digital/IT investments to accelerate the implementation of common platforms, processes and standards and eliminate unnecessary duplication in procurement, ensuring we utilise what already exists.
- A single, shared digital academy: We will establish the Scottish Digital Academy as the skills provider of choice for the Scottish public sector, with an expanded range of courses and innovative online learning capabilities. This will accelerate the delivery of digital skills that we need both now and in the future; build stronger professional communities to share best practice; and develop leadership capabilities.
- Pooling digital and data expertise: High quality digital and data skills have been in short supply in the public sector for some time. Alongside our plans to expand our training capability, we will therefore establish a new, pooled resource of digital and data experts that public sector organisations can call upon to help them transform the way they work. We will also work with partners across the public sector, including the Civil Service Commission, to explore how we can radically overhaul our approach to digital talent recruitment in the Civil Service in Scotland and the wider public sector, in recognition that the current recruitment process is based on siloed ways of working and historical organisational arrangements.
- A new commercial model: We will review and update funding models to consider moves away from traditional large capital expenditure infrastructure owned by public sector organisations to subscription-based pay-as-you-go models. Through the Digital Commercial Service we will implement a commercial operating model based on the twin tracks of a small number of key strategic alliances and an open inclusive approach to procurement which provides meaningful commercial opportunities for small businesses and start-ups.
- Digital democracy: We will explore the potential for digital technology to better enable parliamentarians and elected council members to engage with constituents remotely to enhance the resilience of the democratic process; assist participation in local decision making and community councils; and to engage with overseas governments remotely to improve Scotland’s international influence.
Case Study: Scottish Digital Academy – Increasing Agile Capability In Police Scotland
Police Scotland approached the Scottish Digital Academy to help them address the many complex and rapidly changing challenges they faced in delivering a service for citizens in a digital age. They had identified that the adoption of agile ways of working, was necessary to enable digital transformation in a customer-focussed organisation, and were keen that the Academy help build their agile capability.
Following initial consultation, two senior police officers participated in an Agile for Leaders course, which demonstrated the value of agile working across the wider police force. This resulted in further requests were received for Academy support at various levels for continued training and coaching.
This has resulted in practical improvements in real time information to Police Officers on the ground. They are now able to receive information faster, which allows them to perform their duties to the same levels of accuracy. This is now being rolled out across Scotland.
Interested has continued to increase amongst Police Scotland and a wider range of agile projects have subsequently been delivered including work to improve case management, and work to improve governance arrangements, thus ensuring that the organisation is more reflective of the communities it serves.
Use of Academy services to deliver agile course to Police Scotland staff continues to grow. This will allow the organisation to become even more responsive to the changing nature of work, so it can scale at speed to address societal challenges as they arise.
Police Scotland view the Academy’s support very positively, and considerably more demand for services is anticipated as the concept of agile working continues to expand across the organisation.
Sergeant Shona Mackay, has this to say of adopting agile: “…we are much quicker in delivery, and in anticipating future challenges… our productivity has gone sky high, and staff feel greater ownership and empowerment in the developmental processes.”
Case Study: Changing Our Culture – Delivering Common Services Once For Scotland
Like many recruiters during the coronavirus pandemic, Councils using the myjobscotland recruitment platform needed to continue operations whilst working remotely.
Naturally, updating processes and using video facilities was the right way forward but with tight council budgets, limited resources and concern over legal reporting requirements, finding a flexible solution that would cater for all recruiters’ needs was challenging.
A total of 11 Councils signed up to use this facility and within two months 253 jobs were set up to include this feature, the result was a 70-85% reduction in both the time to offer and time to hire Key Performance Indicators.
Case Study: Digital Leadership In Local Government: The Digital Office For Scottish Local Government
The Digital Office for Scottish Local Government was set up in 2016 following the establishment of a partnership known as the Local Government Digital Transformation Partnership. Initially 25 of Scotland’s local authorities joined the partnership, today all 32 contribute. The Digital Partnership provides a novel mechanism that allows councils to collaborate on digital transformation. The Digital Office provides a range of services such as sector-wide digital leadership, capacity building, delivers a broad range of sector-wide programmes and projects, and provides technical assurance of sector-wide digital initiatives on behalf of the partnership.
Digital Leadership and Skills is a key focus of the Digital Office’s work. The aim is to help councils to improve their own capacity and capability for delivering (and sustaining) digital transformation. Councils have access to a “Digital Maturity” review service that helps councils to understand the maturity of their digital leadership and skills and helps them to develop an action plan for increasing their maturity. To support the resultant action plan, council staff have access to a number of communities of interest that can help them to develop new approaches (such as service design, data analytics, and open innovation) with access to advice, workshops, drop-in sessions, case studies, and access to relevant training (delivered in partnership with the Scottish Digital Academy).
A key benefit of the partnership is that the Digital Office provides opportunities for staff to be involved within collaborative digital projects with other councils and partner organisations. This enables better collaboration between councils, can reduce lead times, provides greater reuse and consistency, and provides staff with new professional support groups and opportunities to develop new skills and experience.
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