The following blog post is an excerpt from our recent report, Crafting a Comprehensive Digital Government Strategy. This report was draws upon a survey of 94 members of the GovLoop community who are currently adopting emerging technology at the state, local and federal level of government. This report also includes insights based on interviews with government leaders and experts from our industry partners. The post below is an excerpt from the report, which you can read below or Download PDF.
Our research identifies many different strategies to implement a digital strategy within government. One of the findings is that the current environment in which government operates makes innovation very difficult. With the political cycle, changing administrative mandates, and difficulty moving between sectors, innovation is a challenging task for agencies to institutionalize. With that in mind, it is clear that innovation that starts at a grass roots level can be sustained within an agency if it is embraced, discusses and encouraged by all levels of agency. Below are six best practices to implement a digital government strategy.
1. Collaborate Across the Agency
Collaboration is the key to advancing a digital strategy, as one survey participant mentions: “Encourage a collaborative team approach to challenge responses, and permit unconstrained brainstorming.” Encouraging a collaborative environment is essential to government and can help agencies better identify resources, exchange ideas, and work towards achieving mutually defined goals.
2. Have Clear Performance Metrics
Having clear goals and performance metrics is essential to fully leveraging emerging technology, and finding value to measure importance. At the onset of any kind of technology adoption, “Having goals, knowing your media and audience, staying consistent with usage, and staying up-to-date with changes.”
3. Set a Clear Vision
Setting a clear vision is imperative to creating a digital government strategy. Agency leaders need to look to the future, identify the tools and strategies that need to be adopted, and then map to the agency’s mission. One survey participant states, “Figure out what people want/need. Why spend time on a digital initiative that no one will use? You can survey people or look at trends in terms of repeating tasks that might be streamlined or made available to the citizen directly.”
4. Have a Technology Roadmap
Technology comes in cycles, the next big development is right around the corner – it may be gamification advancements, augmentation, or something completely new. Regardless, agencies must be agile to meet increasingly complex demands of the public sector. One survey respondent states, “[We] need to be nimble – technology will constantly be changing so [we] need to develop a strategy that covers new options without having to rethink and create a separate plan for how they could be used.”
Further, it is essential to develop a strategic plan to adopt tools, and running small pilots to gather quick wins and work through challenges. As another survey member identified, “Plan, generate options, test, collaborate, identify risks and unintended impacts, put policy in place for support, communication.” Another respondent also stated, “Prototype – don’t waste time with hefty and outdated plans. Start small and test, ramp up if it’s effective.”
5. Identify the Mission Critical Initiatives
No matter what tools the agency decides to implement, the new initiatives must work towards mission critical objectives, and help advance the cause and mission of the agency. As one survey participant states, “First, have a strategy and not just a selection of technology.
Understand the purpose users want the technology for. Do not rely on a catalog of devices or components.” Further, a second respondent notes, “Understand the overall strategy, then determine whether and how to support it with digital approaches. Sometimes a fad is just a fad.”
6. Institutionalize a Culture of Innovation
This was one of the core findings in our research, the importance of institutionalizing a culture of innovation. Our research finds that to truly create a culture of innovation, agencies need to take risks, share resources, develop small cross-functional collaborative teams,and reward and provide incentives for teams. One survey respondent states, “Find ways to allow people to do things in a limited-risk manner rather than always stopping things in case they don’t work.”
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Thank you to our industry partners for sponsoring the GovLoop Report, Crafting a Comprehensive Digital Government Strategy. With any questions about this report, please reach out to Pat Fiorenza, Senior Research Analyst, at [email protected].