How to accelerate public service delivery
How can government departments increase their impact by doing more, sooner? Four public sector experts shared their experiences and advice on how to successfully accelerate service delivery during a panel hosted by Government Transformation’s GM for Government, David Wilde.
The essential building blocks for delivery acceleration
For Alexis Castillo-Soto, Deputy Director of Digital and Data at The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), there are two building blocks to support quicker decision making and better outcomes in government: technology and people.
Whereas he considered tech “the easiest one to frame”, the “people part” has traditionally been more challenging. Although the tools for transformation were there, the right culture was missing. Enter the pandemic, when government teams had no option but to provide services at speed.
"Covid changed the mindset for a lot of people: things had to be done immediately, output driven,” Castillo-Soto said. “Right at the beginning of the pandemic, we received a commission on a Monday and by Tuesday afternoon, we had a new service up. Previously, that was unheard of.”
Having clear processes that everyone understands is also an essential ingredient said Doug Ward, Deputy Director of Business Systems and Insight at Innovate UK, the non-departmental public body responsible for supporting business growth in the country. Having those defined processes is helping him and the wider organisation empower teams to work effectively and make a positive impact.
“For me, on the IT delivery side, when I’m prioritising one thing over another it's about having the information on what my team is trying to do and how they intend to do it,” Ward said. “More importantly, why and what they want to achieve from that.
“It's having the right people in the right place to make the right decision with all the data so you don’t have to come back for more information or follow up questions.”
Processes are also important for Simon Body, UK Parliament’s Chief Technology Officer. Understanding the process flow and identifying the processes that can be streamlined is helping him and his unit create the foundations for quicker decision making in the future.
Body is also using the ‘fast follower’ approach: a strategy that allows his team to avoid mistakes made in the past by others by adopting best practices.
“Maybe an area of the business has achieved something - it may not be exactly the same, but it may be very similar. So we can use the same tools or capabilities much better moving forward,” Body said. “That helped us streamline processes considerably and will help us towards more automation moving forward.”
Using automation to focus resources where they are needed
If government wants to accelerate delivery and access to public services, departments must understand why citizens are contacting them, Kevin McCarthy, from experience management software company Sprinklr, told Government Transformation Show delegates.
“The best service you can design is a service where people can help themselves,” McCarthy said. “Most people don't actually want to call you, they do so when they can't find another way to get the information or the access they need.”
Understanding interactions with service users and categorising them into contact drivers can offer organisations the information they need to make the decisions that will have the biggest impact. It also enables them to use the data necessary to find tools via which citizens can obtain the information they need by themselves - without having to speak to an operator in a contact centre. By automating as much interaction as possible, resources can be re-routed to areas where human assistance is needed, McCarthy said.
He added: “The critical thing is to be able to improve access to information and free up time for agents and staff to focus on those customers that need that kind of human interaction.”
Top factors accelerating delivery
The four panel speakers concluded the session by sharing their top factors they see as essential to accelerate service delivery. Although this endeavour usually requires a combination of various elements, Body chose procurement as essential for its success.
“One of the key elements that we found in the last couple of years is that if you do procurement fast and get it right, then you are able to innovate and move fast forward,” Body said. “If you don’t do it right, then delivery is held up and locked in.”
Moving fast was also Castillo-Soto’s advice, who recommended delegates to “deliver fast, but make it sustainable.”
Ward added that being able to control the delivery yourself - whether that is data, contracts, people or any elements needed to make it happen - will ensure this desirable flexibility of pace.
Having a unified system to manage customer interactions and channels, coupled with AI that can understand what citizens are calling about, was McCarthy's key takeaway for a successful delivery acceleration.
“If you get those two things right, the possibilities are endless. Without that it’s much more difficult,” McCarthy said.
The panel discussion 'Accelerating Government Delivery', sponsored by Sprinklr, is available to watch on demand here.