3 Things Advanced Digital Governments Do Differently

February 07, 2022

Contributor: Robert Snow

To scale digital, government CIOs should focus on transformational digital initiatives, use more targeted digital metrics and adopt a range of contemporary delivery models.

Pandemic-inflicted global disruption caused government organizations to renew their focus on, and accelerate the transition to, digital government. For CIOs, achieving true digital transformation within government requires a full commitment to emerging technologies and capabilities that can scale across an organization.

“The transition to digital government means organizational change, which can be difficult to achieve at times,” says Dean Lacheca, Sr. Director Analyst at Gartner. “This is reflected in the diverse levels of advancements in digital transformation from one government organization to the next.”

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What digitally advanced governments do differently

The recent Gartner Digital Transformation Divergence Across Government Sectors Survey explored the differences in objectives, practices and makeup of digital initiatives that have led to successful transformation implementations. If you focus your priorities in the same way, you can expect to deliver on your digital government strategies more effectively.

The three practices that digitally advanced governments share are:

No. 1: They focus on transformation and optimization

They devote attention and resources to:

  • Redesigning existing end-to-end processes
  • Creating new digitally enabled services or ways to deliver value
  • Transforming the citizen or stakeholder experience of using the organization’s services
  • Automating parts of end-to-end processes to transform the experience associated with the government service 

They also optimize their existing practices, such as making external-facing services available through digital channels, enabling field workforces to capture information and interact digitally, and improving the remote/on-premises workforce user experience or mobility.

No. 2: They calculate and report on digital success metrics

Advanced digital governments consistently estimate or measure digital solution contributions in the areas of:

  • Regulatory compliance, transparency and auditability
  • Outcomes associated with public purpose or mission
  • Efficiency and/or cost reduction
  • Workforce productivity, engagement or effectiveness
  • Workforce safety

This helps them secure funding and achieve more targeted prioritization of future digital investments.

No. 3: They adopt a range of contemporary practices and delivery models

Although digital governments leverage practices such as journey mapping, human-centered design and design thinking, co-creation and voice of the customer/user research, the three most common key practices are:

Organizations' Adoption of Contemporary Practices and Delivery Models

Agile project delivery

Sixty-five percent of digitally advanced governments and 42% of remaining governments report widespread use of agile project delivery, making it the most widely used practice. Even so, it is challenging to perform effectively in a government environment and very often a struggle to scale beyond the IT function. In fact, just 28% of digitally advanced governments have also successfully scaled adoption of enterprise agile.

Product management

Half of digitally advanced governments have incorporated product management into their operating models, whereas only 20% of non-digitally advanced governments have done the same. Doing so has a direct impact on the planning and development of government services, including other contemporary service design practices like journey mapping, co-creation and event mapping.


Thirty-five percent of digitally advanced governments report widespread use of DevOps practices; 21% of less advanced respondents cite use. Employing a DevOps model enables developers to increase productivity and improve coordination with infrastructure.

For most governments, the pace of change during a crisis is not sustainable. Many governments have a strongly embedded culture, and that culture is often risk-averse. This may lead them to quickly revert to legacy processes and mindsets, rolling back positive momentum. You must act now to sustain momentum.


As a government CIO delivering digital transformation strategies and programs:

  • Build executive sponsorship for investment in digital by working with department heads and business line leaders to clearly define their vision for digital’s role in achieving the organization’s mission.
  • Scale the impact of digital across the organization by expanding its scope to include transformational activities that align with the organization’s digital vision.
  • Build a line of sight between measurable digital outcomes and measurable business value by working with department heads and business line leaders to identify tangible metrics of success.

In short:

  • Eighty-five percent of advanced digital governments have successfully scaled digital across their organizations. 
  • Digitally advanced governments are willing to transform and optimize, calculate and report on digital success metrics and adopt a range of contemporary practices and delivery models. 
  • Gartner offers three recommendations for CIOs looking to more effectively deliver on their digital government transformation strategies and programs.

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