Digital Transformation Challenges for the Public Sector

Despite the clear need for continued digital transformation in the public sector, there is a unique set of challenges that can hinder such initiatives. Today’s article explores some of these challenges and how they can be addressed.

The author of this page: Eamonn Colgan
Eamonn Colgan, Account Manager Feb 27, 2024

Digital transformation in the public sector can help government agencies realise numerous benefits including the optimisation of internal operations, driving efficiency gains and reducing costs. Beyond the internal drivers, digital transformation can also deliver an improved service to citizens and as citizen expectations continue to rise in today’s digital world.

However, despite the clear need for digital transformation, there are several challenges that public sector organisations can face that can hinder digital transformation initiatives. Below we discuss 4 of the most common challenges seen in the public sector when it comes to digital transformation.

Legacy Systems

One key challenge that is seen commonly within the public sector space is a reliance on legacy systems. Many public sector organisations have been around for many years and have established systems and processes that are based on legacy systems. Often when legacy systems are involved, the digital transformation project can be more complex but public sector organisations should also consider the costs and risks associated with maintaining legacy systems. From security risks to shadow IT, there are several reasons for public sector organisations to modernise legacy systems and harness the value of newer technologies to not only enhance internal operations but also improve the services delivered to citizens. The correct technology partner can help guide these organisations through the process of modernising legacy systems.

Budget Constraints

Public sector organisations typically have more constraints around budgets compared to private organisations. This can make investing in digital technologies difficult when all expenditure in a public body needs to be justified and may take some time to be approved. Even once approved budgets can still be quite tight and in sticking to them, public sector organisations may not always be able to meet all their digital transformation goals. However, to help tackle this many public sector bodies take a phased approach to digital transformation. Working with a technology partner, public sector organisations can outline what is to be addressed in each phase and when each phase can be completed in line with budgets.

Change Resistance

A change-resistant culture can also prove challenging when it comes to digital transformation in the public sector. Longtime employees may be comfortable with the current processes and way of working and may not see a need for new digital technologies. Change is uncomfortable for any organisation, especially if staff have been following the same processes and following the same processes for a long time. To tackle this, organisations wanting to embark on a digital transformation journey should incorporate change management. Change management focuses on the people side of technology changes and can help business leaders prepare their teams for change and increase user adoption.

Skills Shortages

Another key challenge for public sector organisations when it comes to digital transformation is tackling the skills gap that can appear when it comes to digital technology. This is especially apparent when the organisation has many longtime employees who have been working with legacy systems for some time. While there is a need to modernise the technology used within the public sector, organisations must be prepared to tackle the skills gap. For some employees, upskilling in a new technology is an easy task but for others, it may prove more challenging. There are several ways in which public sector organisations can tackle this challenge. One solution is team augmentation, which is an outsourcing strategy of hiring technology professionals with the skills required to fill an internal skills gap or to help upskill staff and build an internal capability around a particular technology.

If you would like to learn more about digital transformation in the public sector, get in touch to speak to one of our specialists.

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