Service automation and the citizen journey
Service Automation touches on all elements of government transformation: essentially, it's about perfecting the customer journey and making navigating services easier for customers.
When the customer journey is easier, this should also mean that the service and the organisations operations more cost effective.
What government is saying about Service Automation
While the conversations weren’t particularly surprising, as the benefits of service automation are well known, there was a level of excitement about it. Everyone around the Government Transformation Summit's Service Automation Discussion Table had an idea about how they would like to use Service Automation within their own organisations to make business improvements that would ultimately benefit their citizens.
There was an integral understanding that Service Automation is an important part of digital transformation. By delivering on automation in an appropriate way, the aim is that this move will uncover resources that should help manage more complicated issues that would have required human intervention.
This means we’re looking at a midterm view, because it’s not simply about applying technology. Using service automation to automate technology, can improve processes and methodology, increase efficiency and save on resources. This then leaves more time and resource for the more complicated problem solving.
Some concerns voiced by civil servants was that if Service Automation was looked at in isolation and implemented across the whole organisation, it could improve X but be challenging for Y. So improving operational efficiency would need to be a holistic approach to make it effective, rather than implementation being used as a cost cutting exercise.
There’s an urgency and frustration around the government procurement system, as often there is a particular technology that's already been deployed around several government departments, and has proven successful. Yet each agency still has to go through quite a long process of testing solutions in their own environment again, prior to entering the procurement process, and this was kind of a big and ongoing topic throughout all of the tables that are managed at the event.
And you know the network result of this challenge is that it takes a long time for technology to be bought and deployed. And sometimes, during this process, key stakeholders may have moved on to other projects.
So organisations are keen to look at ways that they can use internal cross agency feedback to shorten procurement cycles. And where they where they see problems on a day to day basis that perhaps aren't big problems, and they could see a relatively rapid fix for it, it creates frustration. This is not an isolated frustration, as it actually makes them want to look at ways that they could solve this in an effective way, and more efficiently, making it by virtue, more cost effective.
Looking ahead, I predict that transformation journeys will have challenges when it comes integrating legacy systems, managing and maximising tighter budgets. While the intent is strong, this will be the overriding factor that will ultimately drive success.
Civil servants care very deeply about the citizen experience and this is another factor that will drive success, but also frustration. But I do feel the future is bright as there as so many possibilities.
My main piece of advice to the public sector is to really encourage cross-government collaboration. Identify quick wins and shortcuts, keep stakeholders informed and maximise every opportunity that you get. One of the great things about the public sector is that underlying mission to better citizen experience, and I’m confident that they will continue to fight the good fight.