As a recent Public Technology article has it: “…Whitehall’s outsourcing of IT is a “fundamental mistake” and … government needs to work to attract more digital talent.”
It represents incredibly poor value for money for the taxpayer when a public sector department is locked into an expensive contract with a vendor that is delivering on the basis of outdated delivery models.
It can severely impact the effectiveness of the good work done in government by limiting the speed with which that value reaches the citizen.
Public sector teams are often distanced from their own platforms. They are unable to take advantage of the benefits of owning their own capabilities, such as swift server provisioning and frequent application deployments, as a result of legacy relationships.
Instead, they’re forced to shell out whatever price their third party demands for routine changes to their platform: “You want to change your VPN configuration? That’ll be £15k, thanks.”
Progressive teams within government departments are having to innovate around the incumbent vendor, annexing tiny portions of their territory in an attempt to get things done quicker.
The taxpayer is essentially subsidizing large consultancies for the privilege of keeping their government departments stuck in inefficient modes of working.
It no doubt made sense to outsource technical responsibilities to third parties and stick with them over the years, due to long and costly procurement processes.
Especially when coupled with an inability to find and hire enabled staff, and low risk appetites – no one wants to be part of a failed IT project.
But, as the technical landscape has shifted, so have requirements and these legacy vendors no longer represent good value for money to the taxpayer.
They’re no longer suitable in a world where infrastructure automation, configuration management, frequent software deployments, and even DevOps-style team structures are desirable.
Ditch the outdated vendor relationships – use the cloud
There is the opportunity to leave behind the outdated, sour, or costly vendor relationships through cloud migration.
Besides the up-front benefits of improved visibility, agility and scalability, it allows departments to bring back in-house the core technical competencies that previously may have been outsourced or managed by third parties and transforming the way services are delivered.
Pick a low-risk application and put together a cross-functional team that can leverage the power of ubiquitous APIs; think automated infrastructure provisioning, developer enablement, rapid software prototyping and iteration, and build/test/deploy automation. Begin to seed this knowledge through the organisation and change is already underway.
Using this kind of approach can be the catalyst for the organisational changes that must accompany the technical ones, including which third parties you engage with and why.
While of course you may be currently restricted by contractual lock-in, sometimes even revisiting a relationship from a new standpoint can bring about discussion that is mutually beneficial and results in a more focused and productive services.
Sourced from Alistair Smith, public sector lead at Contino