Why managed cloud is key to sustainable public sector digital transformation
With budgets tight across the public sector and more cuts to come, digital self-service is being heralded as the way Government can continue to deliver quality to staff and citizens in a sustainable way.
Most new digital services are underpinned by cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS) or platform as a service (PaaS). Both IaaS and PaaS help enable sustainable and budget-friendly digital capabilities, thanks to their ability to start small and scale as demand grows, coupled with a pay-as-you-use pricing model.
But as more and more services launch, we’re seeing that IaaS or PaaS on their own leave a number of sustainability challenges unsolved. Left unaddressed, these will see departments struggle to achieve the expected cost savings. They’re also likely to affect service performance, thereby discouraging uptake and increasing the cost per transaction.
The growing challenges of cloud services
These challenges centre around the fact that, like in-house hosted systems, cloud IaaS or PaaS systems require management and monitoring. This is to provide the necessary assurance around the availability, performance and security of the digital services they’re supporting.
Managing and monitoring cloud-based digital services takes time and therefore costs money – money that often isn’t budgeted for. And as more services launch, this cost will continue to grow, because few departments’ portfolios will become big enough to achieve economies of scale on the management side.
Over-stretching IT teams
It also invariably adds to the pressure on the IT department. Rather than freeing these skilled specialists to innovate and focus on high-value strategic work, including the development of further cutting-edge digital capabilities, they’re given even more low-level administration to do. Because as well as managing the new cloud services, they’ll still be responsible for keeping legacy services running.
Moreover, monitoring and managing the cloud infrastructure or platforms requires new skills that few IT departments will possess. This means additional investment in training, while service quality could suffer during the learning period as teams get to grips with the new environments.
24-hour self-service also brings with it a need for 24-hour monitoring – because of the expectation the service will be available any time of the day or night. This will either require more staff or changing the working arrangements and contracts of the existing team. The first option is costly, while the second will be a painful and morale-damaging process.
This additional pressure on IT teams brings with it business continuity risks. As IT teams become ever more stretched, service quality and customer experience can suffer and any issues that arise take longer to resolve. Worse, if unhappy employees decide to leave, vital knowledge could be lost from the organisation.
What can be done?
So how can the public sector address these challenges? Recruiting more staff to ease the pressure on the IT department is a partial solution. However, as we touched on above, it costs money (which erodes the savings that digital services are expected to deliver), and justifying the budget can be challenging when each new digital service only requires an increment of capability that’s less than a full-time equivalent.
Another option is to partner with a specialist cloud management provider, extending the flexible pay-as-you-use benefits of the cloud infrastructure or platform to its monitoring and management. A specialised management provider will be geared up for this type of work, able to offer additional capacity in small increments when required. It will also be large enough to achieve and pass on the economies of scale. Furthermore, this approach means IT departments won’t need to invest in low-level skills, recruit new staff to cover out-of-hours shifts or continually ask individuals to take on more work.
As a result, working with a specialist provider will almost always be lower-cost than managing the cloud systems in-house – thereby helping deliver the required savings. Moreover, it significantly reduces risk: service quality will be guaranteed by service level agreements, while knowledge will be pooled within the partner organisation, removing the reliance on individuals.
Most importantly, working with a management partner will free the in-house IT team to focus its specialist skills and departmental knowledge where these can add the most value: on driving forward the government’s digital transformation to offer world-class services for citizens and staff in a sustainable way.
For more information on how MDS can help you and your business, contact us on 01225 816280 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.