Not just a ‘buzz word’

The two words, digital strategy, are commonly used, but they could be perceived as the latest buzz words, ambiguous and could mean something different to you, compared to a colleague. Most councils have a digital strategy in place or planned, but how good is it; are staff engaged with it, and is it driving outcomes?

In this article, our Principal Consultant and digital strategist, Emma Holmes, shares her views on how organisations can develop digital strategies that engage staff and deliver outcomes.

Shared vision

Digital strategy can be a huge ‘thing’ but actually have very little substance behind it, with disengaged staff and few outcomes being driven by it. If the strategy has been created in isolation and doesn’t align to a corporate vision, it is unlikely to drive change.

This can be rectified with the right approach, which starts with understanding your starting point and where you want to get to.

Sharing a strong vision from the start, focused on the drivers for change, from the executive team, through to management and front-line staff is critical. This is where the buy-in from staff starts, with a vision that incorporates all of the different service areas and customers within the council. The vision can be supported by a clear set of themes to focus on, with further detail mapped against each theme. This way of working enables change to be driven through the themes of work and staff at all levels in all roles, can see how the strategy makes a difference to their role and the value they add in the organisation.

Make it meaningful

So, how can a meaningful digital strategy be created?

  1. Engage – with different services across the organisation and staff at differing levels of seniority,  engaging with front-line staff, as well as management, to understand what a digital strategy could mean to them; how it could help them do their job better, make it easier, achieve better customer outcomes. Connect well with staff throughout the organisation to get the best insight to design your strategy.
  2. Back to basics – at every stage of a process a member of staff or a customer is involved, and so prioritising actions to ensure the foundations are in place is key to getting the best out of digital interactions. Importantly, knowledge sharing should be encouraged to ensure the best digital strategy can be designed.
  3. Quality data – Ensure staff understand how good data can help drive good outcomes. Having a single view of data can improve their decision making.
  4. Align – to other strategic activities so there is harmony between the themes, be it data, culture or infrastructure. Ensure it’s clear what activities are happening through these themes that will support the delivery of the digital strategy.
  5. Govern – Set up governance boards and processes to ensure progress, accountability and control.
  6. Golden thread – keep the vision, the drivers for change, at the heart of the strategy. It will keep the strategy relevant and meaningful, but also make clear how you are going to achieve the vision through activity aligned to the digital strategy.
  7. Detangle the digital language – once developed, make the strategy accessible. Break it down, use plain language to help people understand it and relate to it through their role.

Start, build, maintain

Every organisation’s journey to a digital strategy is different. They have a different starting point. Different outcomes in mind. But it’s likely that an organisation doesn’t have to start the strategy from scratch. It’s usually most relevant to review where you are, what you’re currently doing, before looking at what might need to happen next. It’s a simple way of working; start, build, maintain.

Getting started with a digital strategy review

An Innovation lab is always a good starting point; to determine the vision – the outcomes you want to achieve and by when, to understand the constraints and challenges and to determine the themes, for example, data, culture, infrastructure. Involving senior leaders, members, and those representing the customer voice, to ensure the end strategy resonates with key stakeholders.

Socitm Advisory’s consultants work across public sector to support organisations like councils, review, develop and implement digital strategies. We support customers to understand what can be used as starting point and offer advice on next steps. We use our sector knowledge to get the tone, language and pitch right to resonate with people. But mostly, we listen, and personalise our work to your organisation.

To find out more about what we offer visit