Create and maintain a digital status map and register

Create and maintain a 'register' (single publicly accessible source of data) reflecting the current status of digital in the public sector.
What does this mean?
Digital has a very broad scope which often includes very long term transformational change and the creation of new public services.  This scope is highly inter-connected with considerable pressures to reduce costs by sharing and services and information as well as the associated ICT systems.  This scope is also not just high level but deeply rooted in the mechanisms of progressive organisational and technological change including, for example, agile development and user centred design.  As a consequence the whole subject is extremely complex.
It could be argued that the complexity of delivering digital transformation is so great that many organisations, both public and private sector, run the risk of being overwhelmed by the task.  Even the most senior and qualified staff may find themselves unable to make sense of such a situation.
In situations like this, the problems need to be broken down into manageable areas so that they can be tackled and understood.  Whilst it might seem that it is very difficult to map out and describe the digital challenge in detail, there is no shortcut to addressing the underlying complexity of the problem:  trying to incrementally improve such a complex situation runs every risk of incrementally making localised improvements that, from a wider perspective actually make the problem even bigger.
Mapping out the current state of play, unlike the task of digital transformation, is not constrained by the need to make difficult and potentially politically sensitive changes.  This is a difficult task but one that is well suited to the politically neutral and administrative skills of the public sector.
This proposal is to map out and make open and public the current state of play of public sector digital.  This would be a challenging task but one that could be taken forward in frequently published (say every 3 months to start with) steps.  Taking an agile management perspective, the work could be 'time-boxed' to deliver an outcome at a regular frequency even if it does not always complete every detail at each stage.
The initial releases might list: all the known public services; all the known computer systems that are being used; the main software packages being used and their licensing arrangements; the costs where costs are known; the public sector and private sector teams/organisations responsible for developing/maintaining these systems and the costs of these contracts. Inevitably the initial release might not be structured in the best way and would having missing information. But even the knowledge of missing information would be valuable in guiding decisions.
Research grants could be offered to members of the research community, in association with Audit Scotland, to make recommendations and proposals on developing this information moving forward so that it is as useful as possible for ongoing analysis and reporting.

Why the contribution is important

The complexity of the task of digital transformation is overloading the capacity of organisations to address it.  This map and register would provide a conceptual breakdown of that problem into areas that can be achievably tackled.

For digital in Scotland it would be the like the difference between having and not having the London Tube map which provides some common view of the whole system which can then be drilled down into.
  • It would make the crucial difference between complexity overload and the road to genuine innovation and improvement.
  • It would provide a framework for breaking down the work of digital transformation into definable and achievable goals.
  • It would provide the basis for establishing key measures of the state of digital that could help to measure progress.
  • As open data it would open up knowledge and understanding to the wider community and enable innovation and improvement to be initiated from outside of local and central government.

by sroebuck on November 21, 2016 at 11:52AM

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  • Posted by ScotGovDigitalChris December 06, 2016 at 16:50

    Thanks for your comment - and welcome your suggestions. Our ambitions for digital transformation are based on a ‘Once for Scotland’ approach, and doing this in an agile and incremental way. We recognise the scale and complexity of digital transformation which is why we are focused on developing a common set of infrastructure, technologies and standards that can be reused for common processes across a range of services. It is clearly more efficient and cost-effective to standardise approaches and reuse technologies wherever possible. As part of the strategy refresh, we are considering how a common policy on registers could support the delivery of digital public services in Scotland, by driving a consistent approach to developing registers and providing access to the data they hold. The development of open registers will ensure that data is held in a way that supports reuse and becomes an asset that benefits many. Our Open Data strategy sets out that those holding public data should make data open and available for others to reuse. Making data more accessible can also help those delivering public services to use data to engage citizens in the redesign of services.
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