Research Hub > The ‘Whats’ and ‘Hows’ of Digital Transformation in State and Local Government
4 min

The ‘Whats’ and ‘Hows’ of Digital Transformation in State and Local Government

A comprehensive approach that answers all the right questions and allows you to seamlessly transform your digital services.

State and local governments provide a wide variety of essential and unique services to their citizens. Services can range anywhere from renewing your license to getting a permit for your new business to maintaining roads to ensuring public health and safety. Citizens today expect that most of these government services are readily accessible digitally. Unfortunately, many government agencies support their essential services with old applications built upon outdated technologies.

While over time these applications may be modified to add new functionality or integrate with a reporting tool, the core platform remains on the old technology, and teams struggle to make it faster, more reliable and, at times, simply available to their citizens.

A real digital transformation can be costly, problematic and time consuming, however, to evolve with the digital age it is also a necessity. Agencies need to identify the correct new technology, develop and test the system, migrate data and train and transition staff and users.

Government services can be broken into three high-level categories, with related subcategories, as outlined below.

●      Information technology (ITx) includes IT service management, IT operations management, IT asset management, system development life cycle (e.g., Agile, SAFe) and security operations.

●      Governance features strategic planning, project and application portfolio management, human resource management, financial planning and enterprise asset management.

●      Public Digital Services with revenue collection, licenses and permits, public safety, health and human services, environmental protections and education.

Agencies often design and implement these services independent of each other, resulting in duplicative or inconsistent data and the need to maintain numerous integrations. Experience teaches us that it is far more beneficial to establish a high-level understanding of all services to easily identify commonalities, dependencies and inter-relationships.

While it may appear that certain services are completely unique, even owned by different agencies, there is often important common data and processes that intersect with one another and provide value to more than one service.

Asking “What?” Is Required for a Successful Digital Transformation

State and local government agencies need defined guiding principles to ensure a successful digital transformation. An enterprise architecture (EA) program helps ensure IT infrastructure is aligned to business goals and provides a comprehensive framework for managing and optimizing technology investments to ensure they support an overall strategic direction.

EA strategy helps to thoroughly address the needs of your agency and answers “what is required?” and “how?” so your agency will have an effective and successful transition.

EA starts with answering the many “whats?” in a modernization journey. The whats include:

  • What services are in our environment?
  • What is the scope of those services?
  • What are the dependencies/relationships of those services to other services?
  • What are the commonalities (information, processes, stakeholders, etc.) across those services? and
  • What technologies do we currently support?

Documenting the “whats” forms the basis for a strong EA strategy, enabling agencies to make objective, data-driven decisions on existing and future technology. These decisions can ultimately lead to reduced complexity and operating costs, while at the same time provide a more reliable user experience.

Ask “How” to Select the Right Technologies

Once the “whats” are identified, the focus turns to the “how?” This method for designing and implementing solutions ensures we select platforms and technologies that inherently have the capabilities required to support the “what.”

These capabilities must address the experience of both the citizen customers and government employees, as well as align to the vision defined in your EA. Select a modern platform with prebuilt templates for portals to provide customer interfaces, case management for requests and comments, virtual agents to answer common questions, playbooks for more efficient processes, reporting and dashboards. In addition, make sure the platforms and technologies provide performance analytics and artificial intelligence.

One common issue is purchasing unique point solutions for every service. With myriad available solutions, many focused on a single type of service, organizations are often tempted to select the perfect solution to address a single service or category of service. By limiting the number of unique solutions, agencies are free to focus on staff and have the advantage of a common experience, making adoption and usage easier.

Achieve Effective Transformation in the Public Sector

Focusing on the “what?” and “how?” enables organizations to undertake smoother and more effective modernization and transformation initiatives. Public sector organizations must have reliable and easy to use services, while at the same time operate on often limited staff and financial resources. CDW Government can help you answer these questions in your modernization journey. Our dedicated experts have decades-long experience creating strategies that help you enhance the speed and reliability of your IT services and systems.


Organizations can streamline operations and improve their security response and compliance by automating manual processes.

Greg Wheeler

CDW Expert
Greg Wheeler joined CDW in December 2015 after a 31-year career with the state of New York, where he led the Enterprise IT Service Management Program, introducing and implementing ITIL-based service management practices adapted for state government. Greg focuses on best practices and the alignment of people and processes based on his certified Information Technology Infrastructure Library expertis