In a push to make ‘digital by default’ the norm across the public sector, procurement officers have the responsibility of sourcing specific digital skills to facilitate often complex digital transformation projects.
To many, this might not be an easy task.
Without specialist training or a deep technological understanding, procurement officers can be forgiven for finding this new, untapped digital territory somewhat challenging.
For instance, to fit in with the changing industry landscape and to maintain a greater sense of control over budgets and output, public sector departments are today encouraged to hire smaller companies with specialist skills to complete niche and more fragmented projects.
Gone are the days where the transport office simply picked up the phone to a big contracting company and passed their entire project over to a third part.
Today it’s up to the specific departments themselves to rally teams and seek out individuals to make sure bespoke digital projects get underway.
This means the new challenge for the procurement officer in both central and local government is to source individuals with niche talents from a wide range of companies and professional backgrounds – often in areas that are deeply complex and technical.
With more specialists and projects to manage, it’s fair to say that life for the public procurement officer has got more complicated – and they need all the help they can get.
New tools, new processes
Their need for support has resulted in the emergence of new departments, tools and processes.
The Government Digital Service (GDS), for instance, has been set up to lead digital transformation initiatives. Then there’s the ‘Digital Marketplace’ platform, which facilitates the management of finding and hiring the right digital consultants.
But even with extra resources in place, navigating into unknown territory and attempting to ‘talk the talk’ of the private enterprise technical consultant, might still seem quite a daunting task for some.
SME consultants – who are they?
If you’re a public sector procurement officer faced with assembling a digital team, you might first want to know more about the type of professionals you are likely to be working with. Simply, who are they and what do they do?
Well, digital consultants and agencies are commonly referred to as subject matter experts – or SMEs.
SME’s tend to be highly agile and responsive in their approach to work. They need to be as a way of staying relevant in an ever-changing and highly competitive digital landscape.
They respond quickly to change and excel at quickly formulating dynamic teams. They can quickly collate the expertise they need to meet our economy’s insatiable appetite for software, transformation services and digital products.
Adapting to life in the public sector
And, with huge initiatives already underway in government, it is in the SME’s interests to understand life working in the public sector.
Indeed some SMEs have never known anything besides working for the public sector. Yet there are many who have not had any experience of working in or with Government at all.
It may transpire that these particular experts – the ones with no insight or experience into public sector working life whatsoever – have just the type of digital skills you need.
In this case, both parties will need to work hard to overcome working culture differences and it may be necessary to factor in extra time before the project begins to manage practical tasks – security clearance, insurances and the like.
Selecting the right partner
Thankfully, there is help on hand that can prepare public sector procurement officers for the task of assembling a digital team.
Here are five things you can do:
Armed with some ideas into where to turn for help and guidance, you may feel more prepared to begin the process of procuring a digital transformation project.
But if you could do with some extra help, then please check out our free guide, which has more tips and advice. Alternatively, give us a call on 01628 421781. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you have.