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Tearing Down Silos to build a Smarter State

Having recently returned to Informed Solutions after completing the final year of my Computer Science degree at York University, it was great to have the chance to accompany UK CEO, Seth Finegan to techUK’s annual Public Sector conference, ‘Building the Smarter State.’ The Conference was dominated by the phrase 'tearing down silos' - what did this mean?

Alice King, Graduate Associate at Informed Solutions at techUK’s 2019 Smarter State Conference.

Having recently returned to Informed Solutions after completing the final year of my Computer Science degree at the University of York, I was delighted to have the chance to accompany UK CEO, Seth Finegan to techUK’s annual Public Sector conference, ‘Building the Smarter State’.

After several weeks back in project delivery with colleagues at Informed, it was good to step out of ‘business as usual’ and get an overview of the wider IT landscape. One of the things I enjoy about working at Informed is that young professionals are encouraged to develop a rounded industry-wide view of digital transformation by attending conferences and exhibitions.

Tearing Down Silos

Throughout the day at Building the Smarter State, one of the phrases I heard most frequently was ‘tearing down silos’. So how do you do that? The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) talked about collaborative working practices being developed for cross-functional teams within the organisation, including many departments from IT to User Research to Policy. Their working practices are facilitated by the DWP’s commitment to invest in tools and training that reduces the pain of collaborative efforts across different departments and locations. These groups now routinely work together on outcome-oriented activities with regard to product and service delivery.

Encouraging a Culture of Collaboration

All those that presented made it clear that the ‘culture piece’ is significant when aligning different departments’ working practices in efforts to collaborate effectively. Aligning culture, values and behaviours between previously separate silos is difficult but worthwhile – it’s all about getting the best possible outcome for users of government services. Persistence was identified as a key behavioural trait in efforts to cement new working practices and ensure collaboration becomes both natural and intuitive.

Alongside the development of collaborative work practices, speakers from both HM Revenues and Customs and DWP spoke about data sharing across departments in order to maximise the ease of use of services, and to improve user experience when dealing with government services. This can lead to tangible gains. The DWP showcased an interesting example, which saw them allowing the NHS to access their data to determine those that are both eligible and ineligible to claim free prescriptions from the NHS. This new collaboration and data sharing will help save the health service millions every year.

Seeing Collaboration at Firsthand

From hearing about collaborative working practices, cross-government cooperation and data sharing to witnessing it first hand through our work for government clients in both the UK and Australia, it is clear that collaborative strategies can really work. I am greatly enjoying working on a project for two government departments, who are collaborating to implement the government’s clean air strategy in a number of cities affected by vehicle emissions.

As a new recruit in the company’s Graduate Associate programme, it’s great to be able to get involved in such innovative projects and also to gain wider government and industry perspectives from attending this type of conference. I also enjoyed getting direct insights on the talks from our UK CEO. Seth has led a number of transformation projects for government bodies over the past 20 years and it was enlightening to hear him add his perspective to what the speakers outlined through the day.

It was great to see Informed keeping up-to-date on innovation in the public sector and I am delighted to be a part of it.

 

Read more about our Placement programme, or if you’re a graduate or soon-to-be check out our Graduate programme and the InformedACADEMY.

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