Seven ways to kickstart your local digital services platform

Digital transformation is incredibly complex in local government. Tight budgets, limited resources and lack of a clear vision are just some of the obstacles that can hamper progress.

To help maximise the impact of your digital projects and give them the best possible chance of success, it is crucial to get them off to a good start. Here is a 7-point checklist to consider in the lead up to your digital transformation project launch. Tick off these steps one-by-one to ensure that you and your team are in the best possible position to deliver value from the start:

Secure your budget

Perhaps it goes without saying but before you start, you need to find a budget. It doesn’t matter where from - find it and secure it. Local government budgets are tight but a smart investment in digital services can save money in the long run. Align expectations and be confident that you can deliver value within the budget, even if it’s not the value your stakeholders are expecting.

Form a small, cross-functional team

When building your team, think small and general. Select a few individuals with a broad range of experience and skill who are used to working collaboratively. A good team of cross-functional agile pioneers can begin to deliver value immediately whilst instigating the organisation-wide transformation you need. Good people get things done.

Set your direction

Align your team around a shared vision and set a general direction before you start the project. It might be something as simple as “A digital service so good, people choose to use it”, or it might be more specific about the outcomes of the service you plan to transform but it is something to focus on early in your journey and helps the team to develop a clear road-map as things progress.

Understand your stakeholders

Treat your key stakeholders with the same respect as you treat your customers. Understand them as people, not just roles; they have emotions and worries just like you do. Find out what drives and motivates them and identify any misconceptions and conflicts they may have. These are major risks to your success and you must tackle them early and continuously along the way.

Include your stakeholders in the journey from the beginning

Your stakeholders play a key role overall but they don’t follow the day-to-day decisions and conversations of the team. They have isolated “nodes” of understanding and knowledge but they’re not as strongly connected as they are for you and the team. Involve them in the process right from the start and feed them information in small and manageable chunks. Tell them the most important things and reinforce key connections.

Get your Show & Tell sessions in the diary

Schedule regular short Show & Tell sessions to share progress with key stakeholders and any interested parties from the organisation as a whole. Tell them what you’ve been up to and invite feedback. Book a regular time and place, get it in people’s diaries and clearly state the benefits of attending: Stakeholders get a project update, they can ask questions and raise concerns and you and your team get the vital stakeholder feedback you need.

Set up your “war room”

Make your work visible. Have the team occupy a space with a wall to put up your notes, research, sketches, designs – anything and everything. Make it accessible so that stakeholders can come by at anytime and see what the team have been doing, without slowing down progress. User feedback, paper prototypes, outcomes from Show & Tells - show your workings and get it on the wall. This will build up trust and promote collaboration.

An Effective Project

So - budget found? Check. Team assembled? Check. Direction set? Check. Stakeholders involved? Check. Show & Tells scheduled? Check. War room found? Check.

You should now be in the best possible position to deliver an effective digital transformation project.

Martyn Evans, Head of Product at Unboxed

Image source: Shutterstock/Nomad_Soul

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