In anticipation of her presentation at Procurex Wales Live on 6 October at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff, entitled Digital Strategy for Welsh Government, Caren Fullerton, Chief Digital Officer at the Welsh Government, spoke to BiP Solutions journalist Domhnall Macinnes about the importance of having a good digital strategy in central government procurement.
Caren Fullerton worked for the Welsh Government as an analyst for 15 years before moving on to such roles as Head of ICT for the Welsh Government’s agriculture department and Head of Corporate Services at the International Property Office, among others.
She said: “In my current role I’m responsible for providing leadership on the Welsh Government’s own digital services and digital delivery and also for some aspects of data. My team are also looking at opportunities to do things differently with respect to ICT services and unified communications.”
In April 2015, the Welsh Government published Digital First, a strategy outlining the Government’s approach to driving digital change in the public sector. Digital First aims to stimulate the provision of a variety of good-quality online services for citizens and businesses in Wales.
Mrs Fullerton explained: “A key principle underpinning Digital First is the ability to use digital to generate efficiencies and deliver value for money. Digital First is not overly prescriptive and instead provides a framework to drive improvements; we are already beginning to see some really tangible deliveries as a result of the strategy. We have also recently published an open data plan for Welsh Government, the principles of which are repeatable across the public sector. We already publish a vast amount of open data and the plan will stretch us even further. A USP for Welsh Government is that our data is bilingual and therefore valuable to a variety of people all over Wales.”
Mrs Fullerton also noted that the introduction of the National Procurement Service has had a positive impact on how suppliers and government do business all over the UK.
She continued: “I think it’s important to remember that Wales has a distinct policy agenda when it comes to digital development and digital approaches. Nevertheless, our citizens and businesses receive many of their services from Whitehall departments so I think it’s important that suppliers of services in Wales understand both the differences and our common ground in order to deliver the best quality products for us. This also helps their credibility when they look at developing themselves as suppliers to the rest of the UK.”
Mrs Fullerton touched on the vital importance of having a well thought-out digital strategy in central government procurement, benefiting both government and the supply chain.
She commented: “You want your suppliers to have done their homework up front when they are bidding for work so that the procurement process goes quickly and smoothly for them and for you. Also, these days it’s more likely that our procurements involve limited competition with a group of suppliers who themselves have already been through a framework contract procurement process.”
Mrs Fullerton briefly explored what the Welsh Government looks for in a supplier.
She said: “I’ve met suppliers that have come with really great products they’re potentially interested in trying to sell to Wales, but because they haven’t done their research on a lot of the things that matter to the public sector in Wales and the Welsh Government, they’re not really able to compete for that work. Do your research first!”
Rounding off the session, Mrs Fullerton provided a snippet from her upcoming talk at Procurex Wales and discussed the value of Meet the Buyer events.
Discussing the importance of digital change, she said: “I think the talk is mostly going to be around how digital change is about completely transforming the way in which your business operates. It is about rethinking how you deliver your service, sometimes through a very different business model. Examples from the private sector include Uber and Airbnb, where people have completely rethought how the transaction between the buyer and seller takes place and then built an IT system and new processes to deliver that. This radical rethinking also applies to how we need to transform the public sector.”
She concluded: “I think for buyers, events like Procurex are an opportunity to step back a bit and think about what it is you’re doing, while learning from the past experiences of others.”
Procurex Wales will be a hub for opportunity when private sector delegates and key public sector representatives descend onto the floor of the Motorpoint Arena for a day of networking. To gather fantastic tips about digital change from Mrs Fullerton’s speech and to seize the opportunity to gain much more, register for Procurex Wales Live 2016 today.