Start small then work your way up

Public sector IT directors are finding themselves increasingly in the front line worldwide. That is because the global race for...

Public sector IT directors are finding themselves increasingly in the front line worldwide. That is because the global race for governments to supply all their public services online is hotting up.

john.riley@rbi.co.uk

Groundswell

The UK is wobbling towards achieving this by 2005; the Canadians are confident they will do it by 2004; while the enigmatic Japanese are targeting 2003.

In practice, this all requires effective integration and communication across government departments, local authorities and voluntary bodies. We are told traditional barriers are falling and we see injections of government cash.

There have been attempts at glamorous, large-scale integration, such as online tax returns, but many of these have fallen flat. Going too big too soon is a temptation for government.

The effective approach is to start on a comprehensive range of smaller collaborative projects and scale up success fast. The UKGovernment's surprisingly low-key "invest to save" budget (www.isb.gov.uk) could well come up trumps here. In two years this has given £180m of venture capital-style cash incentives to 136 public sector collaborations to produce better customer service through IT.

Public sector IT directors should take note, look for transferable templates and dip into the emerging cook book of best practice. The global aims will only be achieved by building on bite-sized IT success.

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