Organizational Change Management and Government Digital Transformation

 [part 5 of a 5 part series | part 1 | part 2 | part 3 | part4]
This post ties up the series on the organizational change management “perfect storm” facing emerging economy governments. This comes from questions at Inter-American Development Bank workshop, The Cutting Edge on Information Technology on Public Financial Management last month. This organizational change management “perfect storm” combines the challenges of large enterprise software projects in government with digital and organizational transformation. These projects become even more complex when implemented in Emerging Market and Developing Economies (EMDEs) countries.
Governments are no longer satisfied with improving “systems of record”. The move to “systems of engagement” requires new ways of looking at technology. “Effective change management is imperative to making the transformation from ‘doing’ digital things to ‘becoming’ digital,” according to a Deloitte and MIT study. Meanwhile, McKinsey suggests that “the reported failure rate of large-scale change programs has hovered around 70 percent over many years.”
The Gartner Group observes that “digital government is government designed and operated to take advantage of digital data in optimizing, transforming, and creating government services.” This is the purpose of “systems of engagement” in government.

Beyond Citizen Services

Much of the government digital transformation literature focuses on citizen services improvement. That makes perfect sense because of the efficiency and effectiveness benefits of digital: lower costs, greater productivity, improved citizen satisfaction. There’s no question that 24/7 government digital services can reduce government costs while reducing the time burden on citizens and businesses.
Comprehensive “digital thinking” goes beyond improved services to engagement. Engaging civil society to overcome difficult problems. Engaging businesses to create better infrastructure for sustainable growth. Open innovation. McKinsey has described the benefits of “co-creation of solutions with private sector and citizens.” Governments who leveraged the combined wisdom of citizens are more likely to overcome “wicked problems.”

Digital Change Challenges

The Gartner Group has observed that “while digital transformation is having a major impact on private sector organizations worldwide, its presence in government remains at an embryonic lebel of development.” Organizational change management in government is a contibuting factor. Government organizations are faced with significant challenges with digital transformation initaitives.

The Process of Digital Transformation in Government

Effective government digital transformation is not for the feint of heart. This comes at a time where citizens are suspicious of government digital investments, according to Forrester. There are fundamental changes to government IT planning and execution necessary to succeed.

 Government Digital Transformation cannot be Avoided

It could be argued that governments could avoid digital transformation because citizens have no alternatives for public services. On the other hand, digital experience improvements from the private sector sets citizen expectations. According to IDC,global digital transformation investment will reach $2.2 trillion in 2019.” Gartner predicts that “by 2018, digital business will require 50% fewer business process workers and 500% more key digital business jobs, compared with traditional models.” Gartner   also speculates that the share of IT budgets for systems of record will fall dramatically by 2020. Government is not immune to changes in the IT environment. Deloitte suggests that citizen demand for better services will drive government investment in digital transformation. Governments are expected to provide the same quality and usability as consumer digital services.

Government Transformation Organizational Change

According to McKinsey, “governments typically center their digitization efforts on four capabilities: services, processes, decisions, and data sharing.” Governments should “digitize high-volume services first, they should digitize labor-intensive, costly processes before others.” Change is hard and there are no magic bullets:

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