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GDS champions cross-functionality approach to cloud adoption in public sector guidance

Extensive research into cloud adoption trends in the public sector by Government Digital Service (GDS) results in guidance detailing how IT leaders can make the most of their off-premise investments

The Government Digital Service (GDS) has drawn up guidance to help public sector IT leaders get the best value for money from their cloud investments, while using it to build first-class digital services for citizens.

The Cloud guide for the public sector document is essentially an amalgamation of various pieces of cloud-focused technical and commercial guidance that has previously been shared internally within GDS that has now been made available to the entire public sector.

These pieces of guidance were generated in response to research carried out by GDS director general Alison Pritchard, and government chief commercial officer Gareth Rhys Williams, into what public sector organisations found hardest when attempting to create, deliver on and manage their cloud strategies.

One of the major findings from this work is that public sector organisations stand to reap bigger benefits from using cloud if they adopt a cross-functional adoption strategy for the technology, it is claimed.

“We firmly believe that the public sector should approach cloud cross-functionally. Cloud technology can aid in transformation in organisations, but that is only possible with collaboration between multiple functions to help successful adoption,” said Pritchard and Williams, in a joint statement announcing the release of the Cloud guide for the public sector.

“Using the cloud guide will support your digital transformation and help you move away from legacy technology.”

The guidance document goes into a little more detail about what adopting a cross-functional and collaborative cloud strategy involves, and claims this type of approach was instrumental in the Home Office reducing parts of its cloud spending by 40%.

“Any cloud strategy will need expertise from a number of functions to deliver it effectively,” the guidance states, but there are four specific ones considered “essential” for a successful cloud strategy.

These include the digital and technology function, which will be tasked with building and managing the organisation’s cloud estate, as well as the commercial team, which will be involved in negotiating contracts with providers, and input from the IT security team.

On top of this, human resources will also need to be involved, the guidance stated, to ensure the organisation can recruit people with the right skills to deliver on the strategy, and re-skill and develop those who might not.

“Longer term, your organisation might want to consider creating a central multi-disciplinary and cross-functional team to help improve cloud delivery,” the guidance added.  

“This team would facilitate, support and advise on best cloud practices for your organisation and act as a central point of contact for cloud service providers.”

The guidance also restated the government’s cloud-first policy on new technology purchases, and features advice on how public sector organisations should go about shaping their hosting strategies, making the commercial case for cloud, and to address issues relating to legacy IT deployments, security and data residency matters.

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