5 things you didn’t know about working with the public sector

Myron Hrycyk of the Cabinet office tells us what it’s like bridging the gap between public and private sector, and the unique challenges both sides face.

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by Momentum ITSMA Staff

September 26, 2022

Myron Hrycyk is a non-executive director and strategic advisor with decades of experience working in technology and IT roles. The former Group CIO of FTSE 100 water company Severn Trent, Hrycyk is now a Cabinet Office Crown Representative, responsible for ensuring the government receives the best value for money from its strategic suppliers.

At an exclusive members-only event held at Momentum ITSMA’s London headquarters, Hrycyk told an intimate audience what it’s like bridging the gap between public and private sector, the unique challenges both sides face, and – most importantly – how to approach a strategic engagement with C-suite audiences.

In case you missed it or want to recap, here’s some of our favorite talking points from the evening.

  1. A Crown Representative is a bit like a translator between government and business

“When the coalition government came into power in 2010, Francis Maude, a very down to earth politician, turned to the civil service and said, ‘You need to improve how you procure, we need to deliver better value for the taxpayer.’ He also turned to the Government’s strategic suppliers and said, ‘I need you to dramatically reduce your costs to government.’ As part of his approach, he established the Crown Representatives program. Crown Representatives are drawn, in the main, from the private sector and bring their commercial, sector-specific knowledge and experience to give a ‘one government’ view to strategic suppliers. We work with the strategic suppliers to help them better engage with government and we support government departments in how best to approach strategic suppliers. In both cases, it’s about getting the best value for tax payers, helping the government deliver the best services to citizens, and improving internal operations.

  1. Tensions can sometimes run high between client and supplier

“Working with the public sector can be difficult and we need to avoid it becoming adversarial, because in that situation no one wins. Our civil service represents us and strives to get the best value for citizens. Things can get tense, however, and the relationship between the customer and supplier must be balanced. Gareth Rhys Williams, the Government Chief Commercial Officer, and his commercial teams work hard to establish the right mutual collaborative relationship with suppliers. With that, you can talk about value for money and new products and services, as opposed to having a non-cooperative relationship.

When I took on one of my strategic suppliers it was quite adversarial and it didn’t help the relationship at all. It didn’t help with citizens getting value for money and it didn’t help the supplier, because they were frustrated as well. It’s taken time working with both sides to get to a place where the relationship is now very good and what’s coming out is innovation, new ideas and value.”

  1. Legacy IT and debt runs high in government – but there’s a hunger for change

“About two or three years ago the Cabinet Office asked a couple of Crown Representatives to look at the extent of legacy IT across government to assess what shape it was in, and whether it was genuinely holding back delivering better services to citizens. They identified around £4 billion of legacy IT debt across government – older software, older systems.

“So, when engaging with government, if you are talking to departments about how they can move away from old technology to possibly a lower cost platform like the cloud, and that the solution can also help to transform the services they deliver, there is an appetite there to listen.”

  1. CIOs look for credibility and tangibility…

“As a CIO of a large organization, I could easily spend most days meeting with suppliers and do nothing else. I thought to myself, ‘How do I make sure that who I talk to is going to add value to me?’ I set myself five criteria, five tests. First of all, if I take a call from a supplier or see an email, are they a credible organization? Then I ask myself are they going to talk to me about something that’s relevant to me and my business? I then consider, has it got substance?  Are they going talk to me about something that they’ve actually got or is it a case of, ‘We’re thinking about it and if you work with us over the next six months to two years we might have something.’ I then ask, ‘Does it give me a business benefit?’ And finally, is it deliverable?”

  1. … and they also talk to one another about you

“CIOs have their own networks. We have each other’s phone numbers and we do share things. So, if XYZ supplier company contacted me, I might think it looks interesting and looks relevant. I’ll reach out to Jane or Joe from another organization and ask, ‘Have you dealt with these suppliers?’ So, credibility comes from referencing around the network, having contacts with CIOs and real examples of where the solution has been delivered well elsewhere, referring to what you’ve done elsewhere, the business outcomes you delivered, is valued.”

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