Three ways IT drives government innovation, in or out of crisis
Now more than ever, government IT departments are being asked to lead. Against the backdrop of an unprecedented global pandemic, IT departments play crucial roles in ensuring the continuity of services, the uptime of critical infrastructure, and employee engagement. During times of crisis and stability, it is critical that public sector IT departments understand an employee’s technology experience, especially as more workforces become remote.
In working with governments across the country, we’ve compiled a few best practices for how to ensure that IT remains a strategic partner in government operations - in or out of crisis.
#1: Understand the tools that employees need - and be flexible!
IT departments often play a balancing role between providing employees the tools they need to do their job, and supporting, securing, and maintaining those tools. This often errs more toward caution than innovation, and can put employees in difficult situations. Especially in a time of crisis, employees may resort to creating shadow systems or extensive workarounds in order to make up for needed functionality.
We’ve seen that the most successful governments - the ones who have more effectively transitioned to remote work quickly, for example - already have a pulse on the tools that employees need. They understand what the everyday experience of employees is like, and are already one step ahead of enabling tools quickly. In other words, the best government IT leaders aren’t surprised by requests for more specific technology because they already understand what the employee pain points are. This greater insight allows leading IT departments to quickly make decisions, assess the appropriateness of technology, and turn tools on dynamically - reducing the lead time for effective service delivery. Trust your employees - they know what tools they need!
#2: Support IT support centers
IT support centers can be tough. These employees are probably experiencing the most strain and stress as they try to ensure that other employees have the tools they need to do their jobs. Long hours coupled with managing the expectations of (often frustrated) employees can take its toll. Now is the time to really lean in and support these teams - and it starts with listening to their needs, understanding truly what is important to them, and acting to positively impact their work environment.
The biggest impact you can have on your support staff isn’t always hiring more staff or procuring external resources. It can be as simple as taking a pulse on how your employees are doing and - most importantly - acting on their feedback. Small actions can have big repercussions in engaging your support staff during uncertain times. Take this time to truly understand the employee experience and create an environment where they can do their best work.
#3: Act to ensure successful implementation
Leading IT departments measure the success of their implementation efforts, including the adoption and usage of new tools. For example, many governments are rolling out remote working solutions on a scale that has never been seen before in the public sector. How are you ensuring that these tools are effective?
Many IT departments are pros at tracking operational data - number of logins, number of activated user accounts, typical session time - but leading IT departments also track experience data to manage through change. It’s not just how many employees are logging in to the VPN, but also about their experience while logged in. Are they finding it easy to download the VPN client, but then having frequent issues with connectivity? Are there ways that we can make their experience better - which in turn improves service delivery to the public? There’s a bottom-line implication to this, as well - every major IT rollout has a high price tag, and it’s crucial that we ensure these implementations are successful, useful, and polished.
Leading through change can be tough. The landscape is ambiguous, constantly shifting, and unknown. However, by focusing on the basics - understanding technology needs, supporting support centers, and ensuring that your new implementations are successful - you will position your IT department to be a critical strategic partner through thick and thin.
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