Business transformation an essential yet difficult task for many government agencies

Business transformation is a topic of major importance for virtually all large-scale organizations operating today. The environments in which enterprises and other large firms now exist are evolving quickly, and new approaches are needed to account for these developments. In a recent KPMG survey of more than 900 senior executives and asset managers, for example, 93 percent of respondents said they either have completed a business transformation or are eager to do so in the near future. 

The federal government is no exception. In order to deliver top-quality services to constituents and uphold their mandates, many agencies need to take a thorough look at their existing processes and, in all likelihood, conduct major business transformations. However, these are complicated endeavors, suggesting that many public sector organizations will need to partner with third-party solutions providers to successfully pursue such efforts.

No silver bullet
A major part of the challenge for government business transformations is the simple fact that there is no single, simple approach that will work in every situation. 

This issue was highlighted by the Society of IT Management in its Challenge of Transformation report.

"Transformation is too complex for simple, formulaic approaches," the report stated, according to Computer Weekly. "Management approaches, such as flexible working, shared services, information management, knowledge sharing and workflow, could well play a part."

"Business transformation represents more than a simple IT upgrade."

Going further, the report emphasized that business transformation represents more than a simple IT upgrade. This adds significantly more complexity to such efforts.

"As transformation concerns imagination and innovation, the end goal is unclear," the SOCTIM report explained, according to the news source. "Finding a solution involves much more than engineering a system."

If a government agency attempts to initiate a business transformation rashly, without fully understanding what it hopes to accomplish, then the process will become messy, inefficient and ultimately disappointing. At the same time, though, failing to pursue business transformation for too long can severely undermine an agency's ability to perform its specified responsibilities successfully. 

An organization-wide effort
This leads to the question of how government bodies can and should go about undertaking business transformation efforts. 

One of the key recommendations offered by SOCTIM in its report is the need to pay attention to everyone throughout the government body who may be affected by the business transformation process, Computer Weekly reported. Specifically, decision-makers must ensure that these personnel will have the support they need to remain effective throughout the business transformation, beginning with the project's initial announcement. Failing to be clear and upfront will not only complicate matters, but also hamper cooperation among government employees, which can further undermine results.

"Senior-level leaders must prioritize transparency and engagement."

It is also essential for senior-level leaders to prioritize transparency and engagement, according to the source. If this is not the case, employees may feel overwhelmed or shut out of the process, which can further damage the efficiency and success of these initiatives. This is especially true if the agency has previously undertaken business transformation efforts that faltered.

Getting it right
All of this emphasizes how difficult it can be for government agencies to get business transformations right. But that doesn't mean this is an impossible task.

One of the best ways to increase the odds of success is by working directly and closely with a third-party firm that has significant experience guiding and implementing governmental business transformations. Agency leaders should look for partners that can understand the government's objectives and develop a detailed, step-by-step plan for achieving these results. Experience working in the public sector is vital in this capacity, as government-based business transformations feature unique elements that private sector firms do not need to grapple with.