Five Strategies for Moving Forward on Digital Transformation for Government

How government interacts with its citizens and stakeholders, particularly through digital channels like, is creating an opportunity to think about digital transformation in a new context. What does it mean for government to change the way it organizes, processes, engages and makes decisions about its online services and information?

Five Systemscope minds attempted to answer this question this week. They offer unique perspectives on transforming the engine of government to produce different outcomes for Canadians, as well as people and organizations around the world.


Scott Duncan | Bio
Content Strategy

Transformation means improving how things are made, and how they are experienced. Given that people experience the digital world through content (stories, images, videos, interactions and applications), digital transformation needs a content strategy. Great content means it’s useful, engaging for audiences, and supportive of business objectives. From an organizational standpoint, “transformation” means acknowledging the central role that content plays with the people creating, organizing, publishing, assessing and managing it. A content strategy looks at this issue from both sides; the needs of the user, and of the authors (and publishers and managers) to ensure that activities and capacities are aligned with objectives. Content strategies differ because of circumstance: in some instances, planning for organizational capacity as things ramp up, in others, a culture shift towards utility and quality may be more important.

Lisa Stock | Bio
Process and customer journey mapping

The integration of digital tools within government should imply that activities will be seamless, however, without the proper processes in place, potential improvements will not be realized. Process and customer journey mapping can aid those within an organization to understand what a business entity does, who is responsible, to what standard an activity should be completed, and how success should be defined. Each activity and interaction is analyzed to determine its fit within the broader context of the process or journey. If there is a better alternative, or a possible reduction in time spent performing it, we can make the necessary adjustments while maintaining confidence in the continued (or increased) performance of the process. With this analysis, the department can reduce the burden of the approvals processes, clearly define the roles and responsibilities of each individual involved, and provide information and services to users faster.

Xavier Lajule | Bio
Semantic Relationships 

It means putting the user, and the way they think, first. It means giving more importance to user-centred information architecture (the structural design supporting the information) and organizing content according to the semantic relationships that exist among content groups. In other words, the government should organize its information in a way that supports usability and retrieval by identifying and connecting content that is conceptually linked through good metadata. When it comes to online services, this means that related material will not only by identified as such, but also that users can create their own paths according to logical links between services and information.

Christina Leclerc | Bio
Usability Testing 

Think visually, test often. Let’s transform how digital offerings are typically created in government departments. Stop editing web content in a word processing program, and start mocking up and working through prototypes instead. Prototyping a visual representation of the proposed content puts it back into the context of a website. This helps government writers and editors remember that they are not working on a policy document, a report for their director, or something that only their peers, with their vast stores of specialized knowledge, could understand. Reviewing the content in a browser screen immediately highlights how important the underlying structure and information hierarchy is.

Turning those same mock-ups loose on actual users is the next logical step. Watching the users struggle through the sentences will quickly reset notions of who this content is really for, and what it should say. Doing so will illuminate how to best express the main concepts (or even what those main concepts should be). Individual perspectives and priorities disappear, and morph into a common view – that of the end user.  Having the entire content team observe usability testing can be a reliable shortcut (if managed effectively) to helping them understand the importance of good web writing, leading to strong content, and ultimately, happier digital experiences.

Denise Eisner | Bio 

To move from an organization-centric to a user-centric digital approach that delivers results for Canadians, government needs a new model for making evidence-based decisions for the web. This model needs to:

  • Put together cross-disciplinary teams that combine subject matter experts, content designers, data analysts, solution architects and web writers
  • Incorporate iterative approaches that are tested at regular intervals with actual users
  • Use data, not the highest paid person’s opinion, to make decisions affecting users
  • Focus on task success, not the number of pages published to the site
  • Share the accountability for task success across all business units involved

Customer experience expert Gerry McGovern calls this a “new design environment that is both empathetic and analytic.” It will require a different kind of collaboration that puts the focus on users and what they want to do when they have to interact with government.

Five professionals, five points of view. What do you think will drive successful digital transformation?

Stephen Karam is a Systemscope Partner with over 15 years of experience providing thought leadership and consulting services in the areas of government service transformation, multi-channel service delivery and related information management projects. Stephen has extensive experience in providing business transformation, project management, and business development services, giving him a unique background that allows Systemscope’s customers to realize the value of feasible service solutions within the context of their business. His in-depth understanding of the Government of Canada’s policies, practices, and culture contributes to his ability to propose workable, reliable, and repeatable business solutions for Systemscope’s public sector clientele. Stephen has more recently focused on government service transformation initiatives, including business vision & strategy, service delivery strategies, enterprise architecture, information management and project management consulting services for Systemscope’s clients.


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