Capacity to innovate: Fostering digital in-house skillsets and self-sufficiency in the UK public sector

In any team, it’s essential that employees have the tools needed to successfully fulfil their roles – and this isn’t limited to devices and software, but the skills required to utilise them too. The acceleration of digital transformation in healthcare and NHS, local government, policing, housing, and higher education sectors already delivers service-improving benefits at grand scale. However, it’s important to align in-house digital skillsets to access the full benefits and ROI of any digital project.

In this edition of Hot Topics, we share top tips for fostering internal skills and their role in promoting digital self-sufficiency within the UK public sector in further detail below. 

What is digital self-sufficiency?

In terms of digital skills, self-sufficiency refers to an organisation’s ability to deliver digital projects and solutions independently - without having to rely heavily on third party assistance or services. As the ultimate goal for many public sector organisations, digital self-sufficiency bears a number of attractive benefits, such as:

  • Financial & administrative savings in removing third parties
  • Full control over projects and general direction
  • Management of timescales and resources as required
  • Projects delivered completely in-line with internal requirements
  • Reduced risk of GDPR breaches in data-driven projects
  • Ability to adapt and change solutions when needed

However, before any organisation can become self-sufficient in a specific digital area, it needs to develop the in-house skillsets required to manage work independently. Often one of the largest barriers between digital transformation and self-sufficiency is digital skill gaps, and this remains a common challenge within the UK public sector.

Fostering in-house digital skillsets

Looking for ways to improve your own organisation’s digital skillsets? We’ve included our top tips for in-house digital skill development below – following our 40th anniversary in supporting the UK public sector to become digitally self-sufficient with our training, services, and licence-based technology.

Quantify digital skills gaps

Firstly, it’s important to create an open environment to discuss and quantify digital skill gaps freely. For some, identifying areas for improvement can be a sensitive task, so it’s important to adopt a positive attitude around personal development within your internal teams.

Implement a structured way to quantify and qualify skill gaps and create space for plans to progress – and ensure to assess everything from essential digital skills to bolster current activities, to more advanced expertise that will aid in futureproofing.

Choose tools & software wisely

It’s much more likely that your organisation will achieve self-sufficiency with software and processes that are fit for purpose and easy to use. Transformation regression can often begin when users and technical teams find a software or solution too difficult to utilise in the correct manner.

Ensure the tools you adopt suit your organisation’s requirements and complement identified skill gaps where possible – for example, teams without advanced coding experience can often become self-sufficient in app building with NDL’s mobile application platform, due to its low-code functionality.

Prioritise quality training

Once skill gaps are quantified and suitable tools are in place, it’s time to start thinking about training. It’s important to invest in training from qualified and knowledgeable facilitators, with courses that contain skills applicable to your specific organisation’s requirements.

For example, if you plan to (or already) use a specific tool across many of your digital transformation projects, it could be worth considering enrolling in vendor training to improve your team’s abilities for more complex future projects. You can find more information about NDL’s robotic process automation (RPA), mobile application and eForm training courses here.

Consider mentorships

Containing elements of both training courses and project delivery services, mentorships are a tailored way to progress specific team members from foundation to advanced levels – developing the knowledge and confidence to complete digital transformation projects independently.

Mentorships are an excellent way to minimise digital skill gaps and empower self-sufficiency, taking a much more comprehensive approach to fully rounded project delivery than specific technical skills. For more information about NDL’s tailored mentorship scheme, click here, or let our Delivery Team know about your requirements.

Learn from co-production

Another great way to develop digital self-sufficiency and skills is by learning from the experts. With the widespread acceleration of digital transformations across the UK public sector, co-production has been an extremely popular approach to delivering maximised results with replicable benefits.

Particularly for those working with a new technology, process or complex challenge, co-production can be invaluable in delivering effective digital solutions. Referring to the delivery of a project or implementation in collaboration with a third-party vendor or service provider, co-production is a great opportunity to learn exactly what’s involved in a transformation process – as well as highlight any areas for development within your organisation’s abilities.

Start small

A factor of digital transformation journeys that can often be overlooked is the order of priorities within digital transformation roadmaps. A great way to highlight and build on skill gaps in a sustainable manner is to “start small” with projects. In other words – it’s important to remember not to run before you walk.

Especially if your organisation has already identified a number of processes to digitise, it’s often a better approach to tackle the simpler projects before moving onto more complex problems. Particularly when piloting a new technology or solution, smaller projects are a great way to gain the experience, knowledge and confidence required for more advanced projects.

Encourage feedback

Self-sufficiency and digital skills are often achieved following plenty of trial and error – and some of the most valuable learning can be identified by end-users. Similar to when quantifying skill gaps initially, ensure an open forum for constructive feedback to advance your team’s know-how once solutions go live.

Not only does actioning feedback help digital teams learn how to better their own solutions, but it also allows end-users to feel more connected and seen within transformed processes. And when end-users feel their feedback is valued and solutions are delivered in line with their requirements, they’re more likely to engage with them and prevent transformation regression.

Digital skills training with NDL

Looking to develop your organisations skills in robotic process automation (RPA), mobile applications, eForms or digital project delivery? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with our expert Delivery Consultants to discuss your requirements.