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How clear purpose and vision drive agency transformation

Agencies must unite purpose and vision around a transformation program that aligns with the needs of the state and local government residents they serve.


Find out how to build a successful agency transformation program in both strategic and tactical way.

The need for greater government efficiency is a reoccurring theme in today’s fast-paced world. That efficiency can be measured in terms of people, dollars spent or how services are delivered. For agencies, the goal is not to be the biggest and best, but rather to provide benefits to those in need. When employees are connected to one purpose, they feel good about what they do. And, happier and more engaged employees will translate into a better experience for those they serve.

Potential stakeholders – taxpayers, governors, legislators – have expectations of how the government can become more efficient. Whether they represent a red state or a blue state, that message plays out differently. What does not change is pressure on agencies to improve performance, reduce costs and focus more resources on serving the residents of their communities.

Change needs to start from within

There is no single approach to transformation. But, there is a need for one unifying and widely-understood purpose-led strategy. EY recently published a thought leadership piece on The power of purpose that underscores the benefits organizations see when they make purpose a priority.

Purpose is at the heart of what we do. We need to think about it at an organizational and individual level – galvanizing people around a single common purpose and mission.
Judy Fitzgerald
State of Georgia, Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Commissioner

Technology and automation inspire productivity

EY’s agency transformation framework envisions a roadmap that takes both a strategic and tactical path. The journey needs to embrace technology — not just for the sake of technology, but as an enabler to meet specific agency goals, such as reducing costs, optimizing back office processes and improving operational performance. Three reasons that can be considered are:

  1. Most agencies have lot of data, yet struggle to find meaningful insights to use it. EY’s Government Business Council 2019 Agency Transformation Study revealed that data analytics was the leading technology driving transformation. Yet, 40% of public sector respondents were somewhat or very dissatisfied with their access to data to support their organization’s decision-making.         
  2. Intelligent automation needs to be high on local and state government and education agendas.  A number of technologies come into play, such as robotic process automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning, chat bots and blockchain.  Any attempts to modernize processes and infrastructure through automation will not happen overnight.  There is a learning curve to using new tools and linking those to what is already in place.
  3. Large scale transformation programs will require working with key partners to help solve business issues. Some agencies will rely on specifically built solutions, while others may take an “outside the box” approach.  Considering a platform play will allow agencies to solve multiple challenges across the agency not just one. In most cases, building platforms in-house, without external support, will not be an option.

Keys to successful transformation

What can agencies do to ensure their transformation programs succeed? EY’s roadmap is based on five key milestones to help agencies realize their goals, improve their performance and align with the needs of the state and local residents that they serve.

  1. Developing a clear vision of the overall journey. In many cases, organizations focus on one component of their program, without thinking of how to connect it to the overall context.  The vision needs to articulate the mission and objectives as opposed to working in silos.
  2. Planning for near-term and sustained benefits. Think through the people, processes and technology. If a process is aging, step back and ask if it makes sense or if something needs to change. Taking broken processes and replacing them with technology is not the complete answer. And once these processes have been updated, are the right people in place to lead, adopt and execute future plans? Acknowledging the critical role of people:  training them and recruiting top talent for new processes and systems is essential.
  3. Measuring results and finding quick wins along the way. There can be frustration around a project, loss of confidence or change in leadership.  The secret to success is to track measures that tie to value. Making incremental qualitative and quantitative improvements will guide progress and help inform decisions. And, there are clear benefits in getting early buy-in from leadership and local governments.
  4. Leveraging program success. Managing change takes time. Each “win” can be a lesson learned and scaled across other agencies in the state and local government. It’s an opportunity to build on what has been achieved and set a higher bar for continued momentum.
  5. Communicating messages with a consistent cadence. According to EY’s Government Business Council 2019 Agency Transformation Study, 73% of government respondents identify communicating and engaging with staff and stakeholders as the most important tools in supporting transformation programs. We believe there are three important tips for successful communication: tailoring the message to the audience, consistency and frequency in the communication, and using multiple mediums (video, print, audio and social media) for the delivery.


Transformation provides an opportunity for agencies to unite around mission, vision and purpose. They need to develop a transformational roadmap that focuses on people, processes and technologies that enable change. Identifying with the purpose and aligning the transformation program with that purpose, presents a great opportunity for success. Therefore, a transformation roadmap lays out what is necessary to meet agency challenges and achieve sustained mission and operational benefits.

At EY, we help governments create new ways of working, with the aim of achieving better outcomes for our communities and better experiences for government employees. We deliver integrated capabilities (digital, financial, supply chain, change and performance management to name a few) that are required to address the most pressing challenges in the public sector.