Great question and fortunately one that we tried to answer recently in my team. So here are a few thoughts on how government (or any organisation) can make best use of their internal digital tools:
- Be intentional: This can’t be treated like an ‘add on’ to an existing role: it is a huge job, and possibly role unto itself, depending on how many digital tools you have at your disposal. It has to be allocated time and priority to be done effectively. Think of it as an internal product management – managing the lifecycle of the digital tools in your organisation – from analysing need right through to retiring a product.
- Know the landscape: This is not only knowing what tools you have available but also how they are actually being used across the organisation. This will require time to engage with users regularly to understand how they are using technology and what their end goals are. You will then be able to discover potential opportunities for them to be using tools better to achieve their aims.
- Digital Tool to manage Digital Tools: Linked to the above – you will need a way of storing this information in order to make meaningful links between technology and usage. You need to be able to answer questions like ‘What tools do we have to do X?’ ‘Are we doubling up on applications that could achieve the same function?’ ‘What are the gaps between users’ needs and what we have?’ These answers arm you with the information needed to measure whether it would be worth investing in new tools, configuring existing ones or identifying when a new tool has superseded an existing one (and therefore manage uncontrolled growth).
- Educate and empower: Beyond initial user training, ensure that there is an easy and intuitive way to access information on how to use digital tools. If you are designing digital tools internally – invest in UX - the more intuitive something is the less the user has to learn and it will naturally guide them through the process. Another way to engage users more generally in using and understanding technology is to expose them to it via different formal and informal channels. For example have a tech section of your corporate newsletter with updates or tips/tricks, monthly meets to discuss hot tech topics or at desk webinar refreshers on how to use existing tools. Technology can be made less intimidating and more accessible without huge investments in time from users. Nowadays it is less about investing in the latest and greatest technology but investing in good management and application of technology to solve business problems and support business processes. Users will naturally be engaged and invested if it is relating to their problems and goals. However this will not happen on its own, it has to be an intentional effort that is backed and resourced by management.