In the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), The Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate is the central Territory agency. Within that, the Office of the Chief Digital Officer (OCDO) is tasked with leading strategic direction for technology across the public service. Accommodating the diverse technology situations of several directorates is an especially demanding prospect as the government embarks on a digital transformation journey to deliver online services to the community.
The OCDO team was keen to prioritise spending and align plans across government directorates to present a ‘single face of government’ to the public.
The OCDO works with government directorates to deliver a consistent high level of service to the ACT’s citizens. As a growing number of government services are now offered online as in other sectors, the way that government employees work is evolving.
The OCDO recognised a need to collaborate with CIOs from each directorate to build a roadmap for digital transformation. For Kieran Lawton, Executive Branch Manager in OCDO, the driving force was to make it easier for the community to interact with the government while providing clarity about technology direction and funding for the future.
Until the last five years, IT funding and decision-making was very much directorate based, but by working more closely with CIOs across government, we can make it happen more efficiently”said Lawton.
“We get greater buying power, and we also get more and more data. Taking that view enables us to share data and represent one government face to citizens.”
The OCDO team is uniquely positioned to understand the challenges and frustrations that citizens face when dealing with multiple agencies. It is often in everyday tasks that the greatest value can be added.
“The situation now is that, if you want to move house in the ACT, you must tell several places, and have your information changed in multiple databases. Ultimately, we’d like to have just one place, while leaving flexibility for directorates to have autonomy,” explained Lawton.
A process was needed to identify investment opportunities amongst diverse service providers including Health, Education, Transport, Environment and Treasury portfolios. Bringing together CIOs from each directorate to create an overarching roadmap required IT professionals with comprehensive government experience and sufficient seniority.
“The consultants would have to work with seven CIOs, our CTO from Shared Services, plus several executives; in total, 13 people had to come together, each with a different agenda. Business Aspect put in an excellent bid and they had done similar projects before at our level” described Lawton.
The ACT Government sought help to develop a strategic roadmap to determine technology and funding priorities to meet the needs of a diverse group of government agencies. Time was of the essence. The government’s Strategic Board required a roadmap to give the government a strategic context with which to support its investment decisions.
“We needed a short, sharp planning process to reach consensus among the CIOs,” said Lawton.
Before enlisting Business Aspect’s help, Lawton had already worked with the various government agencies to assess their situation and capture information about the challenges each faced. “We categorised approximately 4,000 business systems in total, and identified the 220 most important among them,” recounted Lawton.
“I had the idea to run four workshops and get all the CIOs together in a room, but the Business Aspect experts proposed that to make it work, we would be better served by preparing through one-on-one meetings. Because of our tight schedule, this meant 13 meetings in a week, but it got everyone’s buy-in and enabled them to share any concerns before the workshops,” said Lawton.
A record was created to outline costs and a subjective risk profile for each. This formed a starting point for a more thorough review. As part of the bidding process, the Business Aspect specialists made suggestions on ways that the OCDO’s initial plan could be improved to achieve a more useful outcome.
Getting all participants on board proved vital to the success of the project, paving the way to capitalise on each CIO’s departmental knowledge. Aided by OCDO’s preparatory work, workshop participants viewed the current state of technology across the ACT Government and then were guided through a carefully prepared process to agree on a desired future state of technology investment.
Business Aspect brought a very pragmatic approach. They didn’t promise the world, they saw where we were at, and because they had worked with our government before, they had the experience to give our group a reasonable expectation about the outcome.”said Lawton.
Next, a framework was agreed with the CIOs with which to rank the top thirty potential projects based on factors including risk, opportunity and potential community benefit. Business Aspect employed its own Initiative Prioritisation Assessment Tool to allow a sophisticated appraisal using statistical reasoning to rank investment priorities against the agreed framework by the importance of the business drivers related to each initiative.
“During the workshops, there were times that people disagreed, but the Business Aspect leader was particularly skilled at bringing people back to focusing on our agreed criteria. The most important outcome we were seeking was a consensus position on three or four big things we need to invest in for the medium term,” explained Lawton.
“When we started, we had grouped the top 30 projects, but we were able to narrow this down to a handful of strategic themes for investment.”
After assessing each initiative using the ranking system, the scores were discussed and adjusted by the group until consensus was reached. The outcome resulted in agreed priorities for investment in large scale digital transformation initiatives that will see the citizens of the ACT experience a modern, efficient public service.
“Business Aspect’s biggest strengths were their seniority, experience, methodology, and judgement.”
What we achieved
Gaining consensus within organisations with diverse interests can be difficult, but ultimately the CIOs and executives involved each brought a passion to offer a strong digital experience to the ACT community. Business Aspect designed and facilitated a series of one-on-one meetings and group workshops, providing everything from intellectual property to visual aids, to harness the knowledge and vision of the group.
By working together, the group of government directorates can expect to gain from increased buying power, and they can prevent unnecessary overlap that results in wasted investment. The biggest reward, though, Lawton says is harder to quantify.
“Clarity is our number one gain. It is hard to put a finger on the savings of time and money we will enjoy down the track, but more importantly, a clear vision gives lots of benefits to citizens – we may save them twenty minutes on a car registration, or a substantial amount of time when moving home, and that means we are providing them with a meaningful service,” described Lawton.
“Business Aspect immediately understood the difficulty I was facing, they were extremely supportive of my small team and they gave us the confidence to proceed. We expected them to facilitate well, but we didn’t expect that extra level of support.”
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