Why does the public sector struggle so much with IT

Achieving digital transformation has proven to be no easy feat as we have seen organizations of all types and sizes encounter obstacles and complexities. For governments, this task is particularly difficult, especially in the face of growing public expectations. But the pandemic has left the public sector with little choice.

It is widely accepted that the private sector will always be one step ahead of the public sector when it comes to IT. The private sector’s digital transformation has overtaken the public sector, which is not surprising given the resources and willingness to innovate that private companies typically have.

It is now 2022 and many local and federal governments have gone back to the early 2000s when it comes to their computing power. With digital adoption much easier to implement and deploy in recent years, the question remains: why is the public sector still lagging?

Why is the public sector lagging?

While there has been a lot of investment and planning in developing and maintaining Australia’s infrastructure, a number of factors are contributing to the slowdown in digital adoption in the public sector.

Public sector leaders often struggle with a lack of integration, cross-team communication, and legacy IT services. This can make it difficult to make digital transformation and ultimately impact change in the community. Because government agencies are often tied to short-term goals that align with electoral mandates, once you authorize the design and approve the investment, IT teams operate on cycles of less than three years.

While the Australian government has strong digital initiatives and platforms, there are also additional pressures on budget constraints, lack of skills, lack of resources, and resistance to change. Applying digital tools to citizen-facing government operations and administrative support can generate an annual efficiency of 4-15%. This digitization also has the potential to inform policymaking and increase revenue through advanced analytics.

Barriers to digital transformation in the public sector have not changed much in recent years, but the drivers of transformation have increased dramatically, especially since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Three South Australian councils doing it right

Public sector organizations have seen huge success in transforming their IT infrastructure and incorporating digital technologies to improve workflow and processes. 

In 2018, Freshworks formed a partnership with three large metropolitan councils based in Adelaide, the Cities of Charles Sturt (CCS), Marion (COM), and Port Adelaide Enfield (PAE), all with a common goal of contributing effectively to their communities. To align IT infrastructure and increase both collaboration and knowledge-sharing across business functions, the councils of CCS, COM, and PAE replaced their ageing legacy IT systems with Fresh service, Fresh works’ modern and intuitive IT service management (ITSM). Using Freshservice, the three councils were able to streamline internal operations and deliver an engaging and award-winning employee experience. 

Since the implementation, the IT team has consistently received positive feedback from employees, largely due to the ease of raising IT requests and subsequent status tracking. Additionally, the team experienced a 10% decrease in phone calls as the comprehensive knowledge base helps employees to find resolutions at ease without contacting IT. They also successfully migrated over 1,500 IT assets, changing the way they work and manage assets. IT teams across the councils can now review and resolve tickets regardless of which council they belong to, facilitating greater knowledge sharing across teams.

Looking ahead

In a world where digital platforms have taken the front seat, agencies must constantly advance their IT services to serve and meet the needs of citizens. There is no doubt that governments can generate powerful outcomes when digital adoption is implemented properly. Making smart investments in IT tools and services will enable government agencies to deliver more efficient, secure, responsive, and human-centric services, as well as being a driver for economic growth.

Successfully accelerating public sector digital transformation relies on governments not only bridging the digital skills gaps but also adopting modern, practical, and fiscally responsible solutions that promote better workflow. Low-code or no-code platforms continue to innovate and are user-friendly, so you don’t need to be an engineer to rebuild a process or a workflow.