Public sector organisations face a range of problems, from significant environmental changes to issues emerging from the existing structures which are increasingly not fit for the future. The uncertain national and international political climate places various new demands on the sector. The impact of Brexit is far-reaching, with responsibilities returning from the EU, decisions to be made on whether to create substitutes in the place of EU funds, and potentially dramatic changes to the migrant workforce,1 the latter posing substantial challenges to the health and social care workforce.2 Across the board there are serious financial limitations.
Challenges emerge from the growing gap between public sector services and processes, and the expectations of users, and this is only set to widen for future service users. Difficulties arise too from the public sector’s inherent complexity, as a very large entity with extremely challenging and diverse stakeholder needs, legacy systems, and a risk-averse nature.
Cadence Innova offers solutions to Public Sector challenges.
An innovation-orientated consultancy, Cadence emerged in 2007 as three consultants who had worked in the public sector, digital, and business transformation, joined forces. Since then Cadence Innova has grown to include 40 in house and around 70 associates operating across the South-East and South-West of England – with ambitions for future growth nationally- but has remained nimble and creative, delivering positive transformational change, with services including strategic advisory through to implementation of digital, commercial and technology programmes.3
The costs of digital change can present a challenge in an environment of tight government budgets, but the returns on these investments paint a different picture.
Cadence Innova is an enabling service that helps public sector bodies move through the challenges of bureaucracy with a fearless attitude to challenge, an ability to unpick pain-points, and positive messages that are used to get buy-in from decision makers.
Cadence supports clients to use technology efficiently whilst keeping an eye on their economic objectives, enabling wise decision-making about where to place investment.
In a context of ever-tightening budgets, Cadence takes an approach to innovation which goes beyond the creation of new products and services. They help clients to radically rethink their methods and practice and the way they utilise resources and engage with their teams, to bring about substantial and creative change.
In the past two years Cadence have brought digital concepts and methodologies into UK policy and research departments, innovatively marrying two disconnected worlds, an example of the tailored innovation they practice.
Digital transformation cannot happen through an off-the-shelf solution
Digital transformation will not look the same for all clients, and organisations do not always need software customised to their needs.
As budget restrictions on the public sector remain, it is therefore essential to look at the needs of the customer and to establish what software can be bought to meet those needs, customising only when it is business critical. It is true of all digital transformation projects that the transformation does not end when software is delivered, but is a continual process, and is not just about technology. It is foremost a cultural change, which takes time.
In the short term, you can demonstrate digital services being built and therefore sow the seeds.
Digital is not an end-product, but an enabling technology
“It is the business objectives and customer needs that should guide digital transformation and how digital tools are utilised. Appreciating this landscape drives how solutions are structured, delivered and supported with technology”, says Gita Singhal Willis, one of Cadence’s three founding partners.
Within the public services, changes often also have roots in new policy goals needing supporting services, or services needing redesign to meet the user needs. Digital transformation is about making life simpler for service users, and Cadence achieves this by integrating digital technology into all areas of a business.
Participate in designing change, rather than being submitted to it
This must occur within a context of cultural change, and staff engagement. Staff hold invaluable knowledge about day to day activities, and Cadence believe they are important protagonists of transformation; by participating in designing change, rather than being submitted to it, staff contribute to accelerating business success. IT change affects both technical and non-technical staff, and it is important to engage the latter group by involving them in the design process and drawing on their valuable insights.
Digital transformation implies a cultural change. It requires organisations to continually challenge the status quo, experiment often, and get comfortable with failure or set-backs, or insights that end users are providing. Cadence helps executives to understand and demonstrate how valuable this is for the business, and that their participation is integral to the transformation process. The result is teams encouraged to trust the process.
Understanding how technology-based savings are made
Cloud technology is an example of an investment area that offers significant savings, with research showing on average 40% savings in Total Cost of Ownership; robotics and AI are already transforming sectors such as financial services. Cadence are increasingly offering cloud services and looking at how AI can benefit public services.
However, to realise the benefits of this technology, beyond simply implementing it, C-level administrators will need to understand how these savings are made, and the capability needed in the background to support all these new services and enable their staff.
Cadence understand the holistic approach needed for effective digital transformation. This is why they bring together diverse teams, combining business analysts, business strategists, subject matters experts and user-centred consultancy skills.
When starting a digital transformation project in a complex public sector environment such as a local authority or central government department, you need to remember the following:
- Tailor innovation to the specific needs of the client.
- Utilise positive messages to gain buy-in from executives and engage all staff members, drawing on their unique knowledge.
- Do not simply introduce new technology. Instead, ensure understanding and capabilities are in place to realise successful implementation and benefits.
- Do remember that digital transformation is part of a culture change that does not have an end point.
Cadence has a vision of a public sector that has a real chance to be a force for good, demonstrating standards and setting the pace, whilst bringing value to the tax payers. It can deliver better for less only through a commitment to continual innovation.