THE CITIZEN LIFE CYCLE: YOUR DRIVING FORCE FOR RADICAL TRANSFORMATION
In order to truly embrace its users' needs, government must change its approach to digital adoption and adopt a joined-up perspective. This means a move away from specific citizen interactions with specific departments, towards a focus on the lifecycle events that trigger those interactions.
Recent digital programs have focused on improving individual interactions – typically making the external user interface digital. As well as not being the best use of finite budgets, this means opportunities to transform the user experience are being missed. Only by providing holistic support for life events can the true potential of digital transformation be realised.
Public sector digital transformation must address the needs of the citizen from birth to death with everything in between. A lifecycle view enables government to provide joined-up support for citizens at key moments in their lives, such as moving to a new home, getting married, setting up a business, giving birth, or even getting a fishing licence. Further, this approach facilitates solutions that lead the citizen through the different implications of the event, reminding them of any additional actions they might need to take with any part of government.
That end-to-end view benefits government organizations as well as citizens. It increases data consistency and accuracy, improves real-time perspectives on citizen and business interactions, and enables targeted, real-time support and services while reducing operational costs.
This is true digital transformation. But what is the best way to switch thinking away from the old, tried-and-tested approach? It’s all about taking an organization and its employees, as well as citizens, on a transformational journey in a managed and focused way.
The answer is that there are new, proven methods and approaches to engage everyone on this journey. The most powerful strategy is to make the citizen’s digital lifecycle the driving force for the whole organisation. Once this happens, your operating models can be radically changed so that they reflect citizen-centric thinking, planning and execution.
EXAMPLES OF SUCCESSFUL RADICAL INITIATIVES
Estonia’s Tax and Customs Board implemented an end-to-end digital approach to citizen interactions, with spectacular results in terms of citizen satisfaction: the Board was ranked fifth in the 2015 Trust in Public Institutions survey, only behind three emergency services and the defence agency.
A success in the UK is the enablement of data sharing between DVLA and the passport office so that the same photos can be used by both. This change has made a huge difference to the citizen journey.
Stephen Foreshew-Cain, former Executive Director of the Government Digital Service, points to more radical possibilities for joined-up government : “…think about how benefits are divided between DWP and HMRC. Or how offenders and other people dealing with the criminal justice system have to be in touch with the police and the courts, prisons, and probation staff. Or how complicated it is to start a business, because you have to get in touch with BIS, HMRC, and Companies House, at least…All these are examples of some of the great challenges facing government right now. Not just challenges, though: opportunities.”
FACING THE IMPLEMENTATION CHALLENGES
Joined-up government brings obvious challenges. Departments and agencies have been operating in silos for many years, and often a silo-based approach is reinforced by their objectives and structure. But these challenges have to be tackled if government organizations are to deliver the necessary service improvements and savings.
Technology is already available to facilitate this shift, but there also needs to be an environment that encourages, supports, and rewards those willing to take the lead. To achieve this, government organizations need to make a few fundamental decisions:
Cross-agency ownership: Who will own a service transformation that crosses multiple government departments?
Cross-agency governance: Who will represent the overall interests of citizens rather than departmental priorities?
Cross-government data interchange: How do we ensure common nomenclature and definitions? How do we overcome legislative and cultural barriers while protecting privacy?
The legislative framework: How can data be shared to facilitate joined-up services while protecting individuals’ rights?
Changing expectations: How should accountability be allocated in complex stakeholder landscapes?
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 Stephen Foreshew-Cain, “What GDS is for”, 29 June 2016 https://gds.blog.gov.uk/2016/06/29/what-gds-is-for/