Motivated by the ‘Digital by Default’ agenda, UK government departments are investing significant resources in new digital strategies. The overriding aim is to ensure the public sector delivers digital services that are so straightforward and convenient that those who can use them will always choose to do so.
At the heart of many departmental strategies are plans to put specific services online. To give a few examples:
- The Department for Business Innovation & Skills will initiate exemplar projects in the Insolvency Service, Intellectual Property Office, Land Registry and National Apprenticeship Service as part of their major programmes for becoming digital organisations
- The Cabinet Office will transform all large volume transactional services to be Digital by Default, including the Electoral Registration Programme, the Public Appointments Process, and Honours & Appointments nominations and applications
- The Department for Work & Pensions will redesign services handling over 100,000 transactions annually, including the Universal Credit, Personal Independence Payment and Carer’s Allowance.
Digital by Default
While these digital platforms like will transform the way citizens experience services, Digital by Default is transforming government in a more lasting way – culturally.
In a nutshell, government departments are not only aiming to create high quality digital services, but they are moving to a digital way of working within their own organisations, across the public sector, and for stakeholder engagement.
Again, the evidence is plain to see from the various departmental strategies:
- Foreign and Commonwealth Office plans include a board-level champion and a Digital Transition Leader, the establishment of a digital transformation unit, providing staff with digital media and tools, open policy formulation via digital diplomacy, and high-quality, integrated communications
- HM Treasury aims to put digital technology and its users at the centre of its planning and operations and support other government departments in their drive to improve online transactions
- The Home Office plans to transform itself into a digitally driven department by building a virtual network of ‘digital professionals’ who will share information and knowledge, bringing together senior leaders and Home Office digital stakeholders in a forum, modelling best practice and internal sharing of publishing and policy-making case studies
- The Department for Transport intends to make full use of social media, collaboration and messaging tools to engage with customers and stakeholders – and seek out the new policy opportunities, such as opening up data and joining up services.
Digital Cultural Shift
But shifting to a digital culture means staff need the tools to communicate and collaborate across teams and departments and with stakeholders.
Until recently, sourcing these tools could be a lengthy and expensive process, fraught with security issues. Departments relied heavily on expensive, bespoke software – or heavily modified commercial packages – hosted on internal servers. This meant new tools took a long time to implement and quickly ate up budgets.
With the advent of the Cloud, this has all changed. Government departments can now turn to the G-Cloud CloudStore for approved, secure software that meets their needs – and can often get up and running on the same day.
This is where online collaboration software like Kahootz is coming into its own. Government departments are realising that agile collaboration packages have a crucial contribution to make to their digital workflow, especially when they are available at only a small cost per user per month.
Over the next four posts in this series, we’ll be taking a closer look at how the public sector can use online collaboration to become Digital by Default, both in the way it works and in the services it provides. In particular, we’ll be looking at:
- Making internal communication Digital by Default
- Using stakeholder engagement to empower open policy making
- Practical online project management in the public sector
- A Digital by Default approach to collaboration across government.