Finding a dividend for transformation

Rob Fotheringham, Managing Director, highlights the work conducted at Fotheringham Associates to help businesses develop a successful digital transformation strategy

We all know local government are under huge pressures to maintain and improve services with diminished resources and that all are now looking towards digital transformation as a way to achieve this goal and ultimately save money.

However, effective digital transformation is a costly and long-term undertaking and is not simply the creation of a digital veneer over the existing services. To truly transform it requires the redesign of both the end to end process and the user experience to provide a seamless fulfilment of a customer request so that it passes through the organisation without friction and duplication of effort.

The good news is that with a slightly different mindset you can turn all of your ICT projects into enablers of transformation. Our view is that even the most unexciting projects can provide a way of contributing to both the cost and delivery of the transformation and we believe that every opportunity must be seized to push things along.

At Fotheringham Associates, we work with the public and third sector organisations to help understand and unlock their business, technology and internal capabilities to meet the challenges of digital transformation. This is an example from one of our projects.

An example

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance was for many organisations a typical regulatory project; a large investment in time and money just to become compliant whilst standing still with no additional benefits. The standard approach is to minimise the cost and do as little as possible to make the grade.

However, one of our clients were different. When we were asked to help a London Borough with defining the approach for their GDPR project we were pleasantly surprised by their attitude. They wanted to know how they could use the opportunity to better enable the use of the information that they had across the council, with their sights on transformation. With limited documented corporate knowledge of their information assets, there was a need to look at the whole council.

The regulations expect organisations to understand in depth how their information is used and managed so it was clear that they would need to examine business processes to develop the understanding required.

We devised an approach that would put their investment to work not just to move them towards compliance but also to provide insight into the information assets they hold and how they relate to the council’s operating model and structure.

By using a number of business architecture techniques, we developed a model of the services delivered by the council and collected them together into a series of functions (or capabilities). These functions could then be placed within the Council’s structure which provided a holistic view of ‘what’ the council does and the key responsibilities of the directorates.

High-level processes that deliver the services were identified by engaging with service owners, which provided another layer to the business architecture. To drill down into each process, we used a SIPOC based approach, but at an architectural level of detail. A SIPOC is a tabular documenting technique for business processes capturing suppliers, inputs, process, outputs and customers and is more typically used in a Lean and Six Sigma context.

Each process was explored to capture who is involved, information flows and technology usage and documented in the SIPOC. These were then assessed to identify the information assets to populate the Information Asset Register that formed a key input for the risk assessment part of the GDPR project.

The graphic below illustrates how the resulting outputs can be used, the example shows how it is possible to drill down from the children social care services, via the fostering service to the high-level process that recruits foster carers and then into the flows within the lower level processes.

The dividend

The model can be traversed to provide the knowledge required to deliver the council’s Information Asset Register and provide a lens into the very heart of council services in a consistent and comprehensive way.

dividend for transformation, fotheringham associates

As you can see the legacy from this project not only includes the outline business architecture for the council as a whole, but the SIPOCs hold a wealth of information and already provide insight into where improvements can be made. During the creation of these it became apparent that there are areas of duplication, inefficiencies and instances where technologies available where not being used to their fullest extent. Reading across the model provides additional value.

For example, you can see which business processes each team is involved in, flows of work across departments, use of key information objects by different directorates, cases where multiple technologies are used for the same basic job and much more. It opens the door to a smörgåsbord of opportunities to transform and/or consolidate.

We would, therefore, argue that the architecture models created during this GDPR exercise provide a fantastic foundation for launching a meaningful digital transformation effort across the council. We urge you to look again at your project portfolio and consider whether the investment you are making can be used to really contribute towards a broader strategic ambition.

Having whetted your appetite, you will be delighted to hear that over the next four issues we will be taking you on a whistle-stop tour of business and enterprise architecture techniques to illustrate how they can enable the transformation of your business operation and your ICT landscape.

Source: Open Access Government

Author: Rob Fotheringham


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