Written by Anant Dhavale
on June 29, 2021

In our first look at a Product Approach for the Public sector, we identified key issues and challenges Public sector enterprises face when transitioning to a Product-centric approach in order to more quickly deliver value to Stakeholders. Most Public sector organizations face unique challenges because they are large, mission-driven entities operating with a mix of legacy and modern technology within heavily regulated environments.

Let’s discuss tips for tools and strategies that can help create the cultural, mindset and tactical changes that can better position Public sector enterprises for successful transformation.

Tip 1: Focus on Culture

Large scale change does not happen in a vacuum; it needs a wider adoption of cultural attributes that allow for change to germinate and grow. An open, collaborative and generative culture allows for new ideas to be heard, discussed and accepted, thus leading to change. A generative culture is a move away from top-down hierarchy toward empowering people and involving them in the core strategic decision-making process.

As an example, Lean Portfolio Management prescribes that the budgeting process happens in a collaborative and participative manner. This helps bring multiple Stakeholders together behind a common agenda of change. While major strategic decisions with long-term impact will remain centralized, encouraging decentralized decision making can help Public sector organizations transform quickly and avoid delays and bottlenecks.

Tip 2: Start Small to Deliver Value Early and Often

Iterative delivery of value in smaller chunks is a great strategy to increase buy-in and overcome resistance to change. Early successes demonstrate the effectiveness of the new ways of working and can build momentum for the overall transformation. Working in iterations also helps mitigate risk by providing opportunities to identify issues and course correct, integrate emerging technologies, and address evolving user needs. Integrated development value streams provide the platform needed to decompose larger solutions into smaller chunks and deliver them iteratively through timeboxes.

Tip 3: Maintain a Holistic Point of View

Large scale changes demand a holistic view of a Public sector organization’s ecosystems. An ecosystem needs optimization of the entire system – not just a part – to implement new ways of working. Often, organizations restrict the focus of transformation to only technology functions. Technology functions, however, do not exist in a silo and depend on multiple entities within the organization to deliver value.

It is important to see the big picture and optimize the entire enterprise as a system and not just smaller parts of it. Functions such as Marketing, Legal, Contracting, Business, Security, etc. need to undergo major changes to facilitate adoption of enterprise-wide agility. Alignment between enterprise and function objectives is necessary to achieve the larger, big picture business outcomes.

Tip 4: Understand the Problem Space

Having a clear view of the Problem Space provides a foundation for building useful products. The Problem Space is a larger construct that includes multiple entities, in addition to the key issues and needs. When thinking of the Problem Space for your Public sector organization, include the larger strategy, the business and technology architecture, and actual end users and constituents. A continuous exploration of this space leads to better visibility of issues and inconsistencies that need to be resolved as they arise. A well-defined path from the Problem Space to the Solution Space paves the way to creating optimal products that alleviate real problems and meet user needs.

Tip 5: Leverage Business Architecture

Teams can struggle to define development value streams, especially when there is a lack of visibility in terms of existing operational value streams. Operational value streams are large, multi-layered complexes that need a systematic approach and a finer level of detail. Organizations that have a robust business architecture tend to build better products, as business architecture provides a solid foundation and guidance towards building effective development value streams. We highly recommend the inclusion of Business Architects during the definition of the development value streams and other key planning activities.

Positioning for Success

Shifting to a Product-centric approach and creating digital products are complex activities that require active participation, communication and collaboration across a Public sector organization’s functional units. While there is no one panacea to make the process fail-safe, these measures will position you well to navigate challenges and realize the transformation vision of a collaborative organization that seamlessly and rapidly delivers value.