Public sector cloud adoption has skyrocketed in recent years. But the shift still represents significant cultural and process changes for many. Here are six ways to ensure your cloud projects are a success.
The days of believing that public cloud will never meet the strict security, privacy, and data sovereignty needs of the public sector are long over. Today, cloud provides the foundation for public sector modernization projects of all kinds — from the delivery of new citizen-friendly portals to end-to-end infrastructure migration.
But, that doesn’t necessarily mean making the move to the cloud is easy. For teams and organizations that still rely on complex on-premises infrastructure and have built rigid processes around them, the shift presents significant cultural and process changes that demand new ways of thinking and working.
Here are six tips to help you navigate those changes, and ask the right questions at the right time to ensure cloud success in the public sector.
#1) Prioritize scalability, and make sure you can scale capacity quickly
In the public sector, demand for digital services is rarely stable. Frequent events — whether they’re planned, like tax deadlines, or unforeseen, like the COVID-19 pandemic — trigger significant spikes in visitor and user numbers.
Keeping up with those spikes and balancing capacity with cost control has been a struggle in the sector for decades. Moving to the cloud presents an opportunity to make unpredictable demand a worry of the past.
If you choose the right cloud service provider, you can scale capacity to meet demand spikes automatically. Then, when demand dips, you can scale back down automatically too. If you prioritize scalability in your assessment process, you’ll be able to meet citizen and internal demand, at a manageable and flexible cost, whatever the future holds.
#2) Consider how citizen needs and demands will change over time
Cloud services are built to evolve. So, when you’re launching a new service or planning a migration project, it’s essential that you consider not just what your organization and the citizens it serves need today, but what they’re going to need in the future.
That sounds like a very basic consideration. But, in the public sector it’s a significant shift in ways of working, managing, and funding digital projects. Today’s projects and programs don’t end with deployment— it’s the starting point.
In the cloud, you need an ongoing plan for how your services will evolve and how you’ll keep them up-to-date and fit for purpose as citizen needs change. For some teams, that’s a big change in thinking. And the way you pitch, fund, develop and manage your digital projects and services in the cloud must evolve if you want to see strong long-term value from them.
#3) Make the most of open-source tools and capabilities
Moving to the cloud creates new opportunities for public sector organizations to leverage robust open-source capabilities and technologies. It’s an opportunity that, historically, many public sector organizations haven’t explored, believing that they need purpose-built capabilities and proprietary software.
Today, there’s a huge range of strong open-source capabilities and tools available for the public sector to use. As a key contributor to a wide range of leading open-source projects, Thoughtworks has already helped numerous public sector organizations unlock their value.
By using pre-built capabilities and optimizing them for public sector use cases, organizations not only save time and money — they can build capabilities that can easily be reused in adjacent organizations.
For example, as part of our engagement with Stockport City Council, the Thoughtworks team built customized citizen login capabilities for the council’s digital portal, using open-source code as a base. Then, Essex County Council was able to reuse much of that code, with a few tweaks to make it their own, for their own website — eliminating the need to build capabilities from the ground up. With this collaborative approach, the agencies could improve the platform for mutual benefit and offer flexibility in how they engage with citizens.
#4) Think carefully about the challenges you don’t want to face again
Moving to the cloud — whether it’s rearchitecting an existing app or migrating your entire core infrastructure — is a chance to start anew and cast off the constraints of the infrastructure you’ve been working with.
As you plan your shift and draw up blueprints for your new cloud-based infrastructure and systems, it’s important to keep those constraints in the front of your mind. If you could go back 10 years, which decisions would you not repeat? What choices contributed to complexity in the systems you’re moving away from? And how can you prevent new monoliths from forming in the cloud?
Breaking your current monoliths in their entirety may still not be possible for your organization. But, you can learn from them, and flip current challenges on their head to help guide your plans and processes in the cloud.
#5) Work with partners that are technology agnostic
Moving to the cloud offers a powerful opportunity to break free from vendor and partner lock-in. If you’ve been limited by proprietary systems and technology in the past, this is a chance to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
One of the best ways to prevent lock-in from happening is by working with a partner that’s technology agnostic. When a consulting partner isn’t burdened by restrictive contracts with technology providers, they can guide you to the tech that’s right for you — which in the public sector typically translates as the most cost-effective, flexible, and robust solutions available today.
#6) Choose providers that are constantly evolving
Even more important than choosing partners that are technology agnostic is ensuring that the cloud service provider you go with is investing in innovation and has a clear roadmap for the future of its services.
Your provider’s services and infrastructure are the new foundation for your operations and the services you provide to citizens. So, it’s critical that you select a foundation that’s not only fit for purpose today, but that will be able to evolve to help you meet new needs and demands as they emerge.
As you evaluate cloud service providers, look for evidence that they’re investing heavily in innovation. How frequently do they add new services and capabilities? Do those additions and updates represent real improvements in their services? Are they transparent about their roadmaps and future plans? And do they offer services today that far exceed your current needs in terms of sophistication and scale?
Kickstart your public sector cloud journey with Thoughtworks and AWS
At Thoughtworks, we have decades of experience helping public sector organizations harness the power of cloud, providing vendor-agnostic guidance and cultural expertise to ensure that people, skills, and processes evolve alongside technology.
Over the years, we’ve learned a lot about what it takes to deliver cloud success in the public sector. That’s why today, we work closely with Amazon Web Services to bring compelling, cost-effective, citizen-centric services to life.
AWS brings together an unmatched and constantly-evolving suite of cloud services and an unparalleled commitment to helping public sector organizations stay ahead of new citizen expectations and make their digital budgets go further.
To learn more about how Thoughtworks and AWS are working together to enable public sector modernization projects that deliver long-term value for citizens, employees, and organizations, visit our partner page today.
Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Thoughtworks.