The pandemic hit federal agencies with a seismic event powerful enough to remake government workspaces, most notably with the unprecedented, large-scale shift to remote work and digital services.
Now, the federal government is analyzing the full impact the crisis has had on agencies’ operations, workers, culture, workflows and processes – and exploring opportunities to improve the way government does its work.
The aftermath is revealing that the upheaval has been a catalyst for overcoming significant challenges, such as enabling government employees to work effectively and securely from anywhere.
Moreover, with federal workers now familiar with remote work environments and new platforms, agencies now have a rare opportunity to finally raze bureaucratic silos, reroute workflows, create more dynamic channels of communication, speed innovation and improve mission attainment.
Below are best practices on agencies can take advantage of the current opportunity to create more agile and productive workplaces:
1. Consistently cultivate a collaborative culture
Productive workplace cultures encourage sharing and transparency, in part by connecting the strategy of the organization, its objectives and goals, to team-level work and making it visible to everyone on the team. Making those connections enables teams to understand how they’re progressing and how the work they’re doing ties to the overall strategy of the organization. Choose solutions and workflows that make it easy to include others, share data and tasks easily and showcase progress.
2. Be agile – now
Don’t wait until you’ve found perfection to make improvements. Small, iterative changes over time will yield better results than a single “big bang” at some distant time in the future. The pandemic has expanded the scope of what is possible, and underscored the power of trying new things.
During the pandemic, agencies working without a pandemic primer were nonetheless able to move toward IT modernization, putting in place tools and processes to support an agile government environment. The pandemic provided a real-world scenario to test tools and processes and a roadmap for continuing that journey. Agencies should continue to embrace the trial culture.
3. Level up
First, scale. Second, scale fast. For many agencies, an agile scaling gap exists. Fortunately, government organizations are adopting scaled agile frameworks (SAFe) to close those gaps: Large Scale Scrum (LeSS), Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD) and Spotify, an autonomous framework for scaling agile.
Having identified a framework of process, agencies are asking how, from a process standpoint, they can connect the entire organization and the work that’s being done. For best results, agencies need the right tools.
4. Get the right tools for the job
The right tools adapt to agencies’ needs. Until recently, many collaboration and workflow management solutions were one-size-fits-all – and the size they fit was not well proportioned to government work. The tools were notoriously difficult to set up, challenging to use, couldn’t scale to meet mission needs and didn’t surface progress and issues clearly.
But today’s suite of modern workflow and collaboration tools allows agencies to select the right tool for the job – whether it’s individual task and workflow management, project management or complex program management. The right tools allow collaboration among multiple teams, automation where it matters most and easy management and tracking of work. And they do it all with a high degree of transparency and accountability.
5. Automate with discretion
Automate everything, right? Wrong! Automation can make a huge difference in the quality and quantity of work, but only when it’s intelligently applied. Automating project tasking and program reporting is an easy win for an agency. Automating document delivery may not make as much sense when an agency can better support employees by centralizing knowledge articles into a single site that is accessible by everyone, regardless of location or device.
Automating service functions such as a help desk makes sense, particularly in a distributed work environment. Help desk solutions that provide automation to enable self-service are critical to support remote workers and citizens. Automated searching and surfacing of relevant knowledge articles to users and user-generated password resets help to offload already burdened service teams, and free workers to focus on critical bug fixes and other more strategic issues.
This article is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent report, “How Agencies Streamline Operations With Agile Workflows .” Download the full report here.