PUBLIC SECTOR IT INFRASTRUCTURE: LIBERATION FROM LEGACY

By Nick Pike, VP UK & Ireland, OutSystems

In 2010, when Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative party took control of the UK political landscape, one of their key strategies was to transform the public sector. Between 2010 and 2015, the government promoted digital development and the pressing need to make public services digital by default. A digitised service is easier to use and cheaper to run with less paperwork, fewer people being put on hold in a call centre queue, fewer forms filed in error and less risk of fraud.

Since May 2015, the focus has been on promoting business transformation by developing end-to-end services that meet the needs of users across all channels.  The majority of the transformation programmes in the Government Major Projects Portfolio (GMPP) are scheduled to be complete by April 2021, but transformation is a continuous process and the work that needs to be done is evolving constantly. As well as building better tools, processes and governance for civil servants, this means transforming the inside of the Civil Service to become an organisation that is digital by default. That is, making better use of data by ensuring that government data is properly managed, protected and, where non-sensitive, made available and shared effectively.

Pre-existing technologies, known as legacy systems, can make it hard for organisations to build a service that brings about real change. Legacy IT may not only hinder efficient efforts, but also prevent improvement in the quality of service provided to the public. However, deterring the public sector from legacy liberation are a number of issues, including the time and effort taken to move away from these systems and the fact that they don’t support real-time queries, they’re expensive to license, and they’re difficult to work with.

To move away from legacy systems successfully, central and local government, as well as other public institutions, must understand how to plan to replace their systems. These organisations must establish what is possible based on their tech constraints, be clear about the scale of any changes that are required, and compare their requirements with other options they have for accessing the data or services. The goal is to address an important question. Do we replace legacy technology or make changes to introduce new flexibility?

Communication is an important element in this planning stage. Exchanging ideas and talking with other teams can help them understand processes and goals that work. In many cases, legacy technology will be subject to other change programmes, and public-sector organisations need to coordinate with other teams to have a clear plan.

No matter their final decision, public and private-sector organisations have found low-code platforms to be efficient and effective in helping them successfully move away from their old systems and transform services in reasonable timeframes. The inherent value of a low-code development platform is that it brings IT and the business together, enabling more rapid, iterative and collaborative development. Applications are rapidly built, seamlessly deployed and easily changed—all without the need for low-level coding. They also serve as excellent communication mechanisms for aligning business and IT stakeholders, thereby ensuring greater software quality and more successful outcomes.

Another key low-code platform component that helps move organisations away from legacy systems is full app lifecycle support. A single environment supports the entire app delivery lifecycle: design, build, deploy, manage and iterate. In addition to visual development tools, they typically include capabilities like social collaboration, project management, full deployment and application monitoring, end user feedback loops, and so on. Apps seamlessly move along all stages of the lifecycle quickly and efficiently.

As we get closer to 2021, public sector organisations that have not yet implemented their digital transformation strategy are being guided by the government on how to make decisions about technology. Since every service is different, many of the decisions these establishments make about technology will be unique. Low-code is a fast, effective solution that helps organisations embrace transformation goals faster and implement the government’s digital strategy within the time frame. Overall, we see big benefits in helping reduce the public purse while embracing the new millennia.

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