Here’s the basis for this post..
This is a really good question and something that’s been on my mind quite a bit recently. So, here’s an attempt to unpack some thoughts (and hopefully crowdsource some input).
- Housing Association with approx. 120 staff.
- Using a range of vendor supplied systems for different services.
- IT Team of 4 focused on project delivery, infrastructure and support with 1 member of staff handling web design duties.
How do you get started?
The problem as I see it is that to start designing your own (digital) services there’s a shopping list of things you need before you get going..
- A technology platform that enables you to iterate upon a rough prototype through to a live service.
- Specialist knowledge to pull it all together: Designers, programmers, user researchers etc.
- A willingness to adopt an end-to-end service approach rather than project approach.. including the budget to back it.
Compared to the traditional model of ‘buy a ready made solution’ to the casual observer it starts looking like an expensive open ended proposition… especially for a smaller organisation.
If there’s a better solution for continuously delivering good digital services that keep pace with the outside world, I’m happy to hear it. But at the moment this is seemingly the best option on the table.
So.. I suppose the question is, how do you begin building the capability to deliver all this? How do you transition from the current reality where everything is procured through projects to a new reality where systems are iteratively co-designed with those that are going to use them.
How digitally mature are we?
Digital Maturity can be thought of as an index or curve of how digitally enabled the organisation is. I suspect that knowing how digitally enabled you are (.. or not) might be a useful data point to explain why you’d want to embark on doing something radically different. To fix a problem, you first have to recognise that the problem exists.
Who’s in charge of digital transformation?
Digital transformation is a response to being technologically left behind by the wider world. I become increasingly convinced that if you’re committed to catching up as an organisation, you need to designate someone to lead the charge and build capability. Ideally this is someone who understands the limits of Enterprise IT when applied to modern digital services.
In no particular order, here are some random ideas for making this happen.
- Build a common open tech platform for anyone who provides Social Housing. Perhaps adopt a Wordpress approach of free to use and modify or pay to engage services.
- Form links with other organisations who might be interested in teaming up to share knowledge or skills.
- Create a Service Design team as a social enterprise. Subsidise the cost of the team by selling their services to others organisations to help build capability sector wide.
- Pick a small service and use an external digital agency to guide the organisation through the service design process to model what’s involved and what the benefits are.
- Appoint someone to lead the charge for digital transformation. Get them to create a service roadmap. Develop a broader understanding how tenants use services end-to-end. Start attacking those pressure points in an iterative manner either by buying the skills in or developing capability in-house. Be the internal advocate for modernising the organisation.