5 tips to deliver a successful public sector IT project

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Publish Date:
22 Aug, 2023


Public sector IT projects are more likely to exceed budgets and timelines while falling short on intended benefits. In 2021, McKinsey and Oxford Global Projects reported more than 80% of public sector IT projects overran, while additional costs were nearly three times higher than private sector projects. 

A public sector digital transformation project is more than just implementing new technology. It can bring your people together, facilitate increases in revenue, and drive growth. But success is dependent on how you start. 

Follow these five tips to embed clarity throughout the process and increase your chances of delivering a successful digital transformation. 

 1. Clarify scope and requirements 

McKinsey found only one in 200 IT projects delivers the intended benefits on time and within budget. And the projects that fail to deliver on these measures of success (budget, timelines, benefits) do so considerably. Costs soar to 75%, delays increase by 46%, and benefits diminish by 39%.  

There can be many reasons why projects fail to meet their timeline and budgetary constraints. But first and foremost, failure can be attributed to misunderstanding the project’s scope and requirements from the onset.  

Avoid this common mistake by deep diving into your technical requirements to fully understand what your project requirements are for each stage of the implementation. Define and sign off on needs, goals, objectives, benefits, budget, schedule, resources, and success criteria, before starting any work. 

Implement proper planning and management practices for each part of the IT transformation. This will enable greater transparency, ease the navigation of complex tasks, and help you better manage costs, timelines, and scope.  


2. Manage changes efficiently 

Due to the complex nature of public sector organizations, IT transformations can be difficult to coordinate. Getting buy in and adoption of the new technology within the organization is often met with resistance.  

This is why an effective change management strategy is crucial. It’s a system of processes, guidance, and approvals that enable the assigned stakeholders to review and accommodate project change requests, without causing sudden delays and disruptions. Change management procedures will help your team understand what they need to do with a change request and minimize room for mistakes. 

Explore how these change requests will impact the project with your team and determine whether the request is feasible. These changes and extensions are much simpler to deal with when there are original scope and success criteria for reference.  


3. Establish a project governance framework 

You need to ensure everyone stays aligned with the broader vision throughout implementation. Deploy a project governance framework which includes a set of policies, processes, procedures, and responsibilities that define the management and control of the project. 

Make sure to check in with key stakeholders regularly to clarify responsibilities, document progress, and understand any dependencies. Confirm that project activities are being prioritized appropriately, in alignment with requirements and agreed timelines.  

Effective governance works upward to involve senior stakeholders and downward to steer project progress. By establishing a project governance framework, public sector organizations can ensure their transformation projects are more efficient and effective – saving time and money while meeting objectives. 


4. Foster crystal clear communications 

Communications must go beyond the IT team. Keep your users, experts, senior management, and project sponsors in the know. Extend engagement to everyone that will be impacted by, or contributing to, the project in any way. No one should be caught by surprise. 

From our experience, we know individual contributions can fluctuate as project needs evolve, so it’s best to increase user and expert engagement when they can have the most impact. Plan, for example, map the stages that’ll benefit from expert or user involvement and let them know what to expect and when. 

For project progress updates, book regular team check-ins to clarify individual tasks, responsibilities, and priorities. Work with your team to decide the frequency of status updates and who should deliver them. Make the most of these calls; use them to engage other people when needed, ask for feedback, and foster dialogue and collaboration among your stakeholders.  


5. Avoid resourcing pitfalls  

On average, public sector IT projects take nearly four years to complete. Planning four years is challenging with changing priorities and staff turnover, so some additional costs can be expected. However, McKinsey found that extreme cost overrun is higher for public sector IT projects than private sector projects, which significantly impacts the organization and people involved.  

There are so many things to consider when implementing new technology for public sector organizations. To keep on top of all the moving parts and deliver a successful digital transformation, a proper resource plan is essential. It ensures that you have adequate resources available to complete the project – with access to the right people with the right expertise at the right time. 

We help our customers identify key people early on and work together to agree on realistic expectations and assign suitable resources. This includes deciding which technologies to use, who will be responsible for each task, and how to allocate resources to different parts of the project. Our experts take care of everything resource related with a carefully crafted allocation matrix.  

Download our Public Sector Guidance for Success eBook so you too can lead your digital transformation projects to success. 

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