At a recent industry workshop, hosted by Sentinel by SCC and featuring representatives from across the Public Sector, the knowledge and skillsets of in-house teams was a topic of hot debate. As one data owner said: “I am not sure I know all the right questions to ask suppliers during migration.”

The majority were concerned about potential skills gaps (or losing key skill sets) during the transformation: “It is a fast moving landscape, how do we keep up?”

All agreed that core skills and capabilities should be nurtured in-house. Indeed this was considered essential by many in order to ensure that technical and data ownership remained solidly within the organisation. In a similar vein, a full understanding of what parts of the service – cloud or hybrid – should be provided in house and what should be outsourced can only be gained if those skill sets exist internally.

But this is not always easy. The National Audit Office’s (NAO) latest survey of central government digital leaders, ‘The digital skills gap in government’ suggests that Whitehall’s limited clout in the jobs market continues to be a factor inhibiting digital transformation.

It is true, however, that not every public sector organisation needs every skill set in-house. One important consideration in austere times is the potential to let the cloud provider take responsibility for essential, but commodity, elements of IT management; i.e. updating software, providing disaster recovery plans, ensuring secure environments, etc.

The provider should have high level expertise on hand in these fields, so it can be channelled as and when needed – thus obviating the need for an expensive, in-house resource in these commodity areas.

With the right Service Level Agreements (SLA’s) and downtime compensation plans in place, the in-house team is free to then focus on their specialist public service, and to identify and expand essential skill sets required to deliver the transformation whilst ensuring that technical and data ownership is retained.

With limited funds available for training and the pressure to cut down contractor spend, the ability to make more use of commodity services and skills should be key to the business case.

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Next week: Security in Public Sector Cloud


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