Italian Digital Transformation Team (Team Digitale)
The Italian Digital Transformation Team (Team Digitale) was established by law in September 2016, with an initial two-year mandate until September 2018. Subsequently, its activities have been extended to December 2019. The Team and its Commissioner are appointed by the Prime Minister to implement the Digital Agenda and Innovation.
Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
The Team is in charge of supervising and providing support for the Agency for Digital Italy (AgID), the operation branch of the Council of Ministers. Since the creation of the Team, two Ministries have played a key role in this setup: the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Department of Public Administration. The Ministry of Economy and Finance is responsible for the allocation of financial resources for digital transformation. Whereas the Department of Public Administration is in charge of all public sector needs and governs the process of modernisation and reform of the public administration. Lato sensu, the immediate beneficiary is the public sector, including public agencies, the Court of Auditors etc. However, its activities aim at creating a digital transformation impact for businesses and citizenry while making Italy more attractive from a digital perspective.
The Team took a completely new approach to creating value by supporting public administrations in their digital transformation processes. This approach consists of three main pillars: (1) embracing existing and standstill projects necessary to build up the backbone of the digital architecture in the Italian public sector; (2) creating mechanisms, tools and processes to facilitate the Italian government’s pathway to digital change; (3) rolling out a model of active and open collaboration with all public actors. To explain the process of co-creation we provide examples about one project in particular that is underway. In the case of Data and Analytics Framework, at the co-commissioning stage, a public task force has been in charge with collecting requirements and setting jointly the priorities of the project. DAF’s goal is to create a platform for collecting, processing and sharing of public data, which will ultimately lead to improved public services based on the exchange and use of big data. During the co-design phase, extensively the experience of services users – especially internal ones – has driven the creation, prototyping and testing of the first version of the platform. Co-implementation is foreseen later, at the release stage, where service users will manage jointly public assets in the form of open data.
Digital Transformation Process
To support and advance the process of digital transformation, as mentioned earlier, the Digital Team has conceived a strategy built around three main pillars, working on them concomitantly. In the first one, the Team continues to implement a set of existing and ongoing projects designed to generate value through digital transformation, while contributing further by establishing new ones. By and large, these projects regard infrastructure and interoperability, services and tools championing a human-centric model. In the second pillar, to support the above-mentioned projects, the actions of the Team has focused on empowering the capacity of public administration in terms of assessing needs and finding proper solutions for developing and designing services fit for specific purposes. Finally, the third pillar is about engaging openly with the public sector through a staged approach, involving first enthusiastic adopters, and eventually get laggers on board.
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
Given the nature of change, the Digital Team is contributing to implementing, the timeframe for seeing results matters. Most visible achievements are still measurable in terms of outputs, whereas impact and long-term value creation will have to be assessed at a later stage. In terms of outputs, we can refer to cost savings, time savings and productivity, the introduction of new services and creation of support tools for the public administration. In parallel, the Team focused on creating value in terms of skills and competencies, and a proper culture for digital transformation in the public sector; simplification and usability of public services for citizens and crucial from a societal perspective, the value of transparency.
Challenges & Bottlenecks
Among the challenges emphasized by the interviewed members of the Team can be mentioned: (1) cultural resistance to change; (2) lack of skills and digital awareness among public managers and policymakers, which leads to reluctance towards ambitious projects; (3) fragmentation of databases, power and plurality of suppliers, which slows down the process of adaptation, (4) lack of communication.
Transferability & Replicability
At the outset or in a more advanced phase, all the projects follow a user- or human-centred approach and design thinking methodology applied in developing services, directly targeting users (internal or external). At the same time, the Team adopts a management style that is agile, collaborative and efficient.
The radical approach adopted by the Team meant a departure from focusing exclusively on strategies and instead support planned actions with structured mechanisms and processes that lacked in the public sector. This required also a redesign of the process management, introducing an agile approach for: budget and staff recruitment, procurement process, software development process etc.
To ensure sustainability and support for such a complex process of transformation, the Team did not start from scratch; rather it has relied and acted upon already existing programmes that could work while launching new ones considering successful models developed elsewhere. With this in mind, the focus has been on both the definition of a long-term roadmap and, most importantly, the provision of means to make projects operational (tools, communication, etc.). Finally, the Team has engaged with other stakeholders to exponentially increase inputs and achieve greater outputs.