Reusable platforms: The key to public sector transformation

The public sector has worked incredibly hard during one of the most challenging periods in recent history to continue to support citizens in their time of need. Like many, I am incredibly grateful for their efforts on the front line, day in, day out, to serve our communities with distinction.

The pandemic has accelerated the digital demands on government agencies as citizens’ expectations continue to rise exponentially. Agencies have had to support rapidly changing policies and emergency measures with legacy systems that have not been designed for such a dynamic environment.

Rob Bollard

This has proven to be costly and fragmented, stifling agility, and adversely impacting outcomes. The costs of these old, siloed systems not only hold governments back from delivering dynamic service but place unsustainable financial pressure on budgets trying to deliver what is needed.

With massive fiscal challenges due to necessary pandemic spending, the public sector must look urgently towards collaborative digital solutions that will fulfill needs, while significantly reducing risk and cost.

Citizen-focused platforms

We are seeing a global digital movement across all industries—including the public sector—towards low-code repeatable platforms, which are platforms architected for operational and strategic outcomes, agility, repeatability, and built for change.

They’re designed for open ecosystems and to overcome complexities by being able to compose technologies in a connected and integrated way—focused on citizen and employee experiences that are built on principles of great service design.

The public sector must look urgently towards collaborative digital solutions that will fulfill needs, while significantly reducing risk and cost.

The public sector is seeking to improve services through smarter investment in digital infrastructure and to deliver improved total cost of ownership. To achieve this, governments are focusing on reusable capabilities that allow agencies to strategically solve similar challenges in an efficient, collaborative and more seamless and orchestrated manner.​ The solution to these challenges lie in repeatable capabilities such as licensing/permissions, grants management and even supply chain modernisation and logistics. 

Solving common problems

Ultimately, these reusable models see different departments and agencies utilise the same platforms to solve common problems. This approach is not only simplifying processes for various departments and agencies, but minimising disruption often caused by large digital transformation projects and allowing shared value to be derived across government. They are reimagining service delivery by “virtualising” capabilities across different departments and creating a digital shared services approach.

The success of repeatable platforms will play a crucial role over the next decade in setting the foundations for the public sector to meet citizen expectations in a cost effective, smarter and de-risked fashion. It is the key to delivering better government services that are simple, clear, and fast within increasingly pressured budgets.

The approach is an ambitious one and if achieved can support a range of benefits from:

  • significantly reducing government technology costs and reducing ICT duplication
  • supporting faster modernisation of technology that reduces risk, uplifts security and future proofs for the increasingly dynamic environment
  • improved and consistent experiences which are better connected, simple, accessible and fast
  • support scalability and development of shared value across agencies to drive innovation and optimise depth of capability.

The success of repeatable platforms will play a crucial role over the next decade in setting the foundations for the public sector to meet citizen expectations.

The concept of reusable platforms can be seen as a radical change, particularly when posted alongside legacy systems, however it is an exciting proposition for the public sector. As always, the challenge will be the need for strong leadership, collaborative approaches, and robust governance to see this vision through to success.

We are already seeing this vision becoming reality with the Australian Government’s recent announcement of the Permissions Capability for reuse for other similar permissions-based services such as permits, accreditations, licences, and registrations.

There is also the strong work undertaken by the New Zealand Government with the implementation of Business Connect to support repeatable business licencing capabilities. The NZ Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE) estimates potential benefits worth $300 million per annum through reduced time and effort in compliance administration, faster processing of applications, less scope for errors, and increased business productivity.

Moving to a reusable model will no doubt be a challenging road ahead, but the overall benefits delivered to citizens are overwhelming. Technology modernisation must evolve from siloed agency approaches to collaboration of common capabilities to accelerate, de-risk and support cost-effective modernisation in an increasingly changing world. I’m looking forward to this shared virtualisation of capability on repeatable platforms and how they will provide the foundation for reimagining the government services of the future.

Rob Bollard is the Director and Industry Principal for Public Sector APAC at Pegasystems

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