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European Commission Digital

Dear Reader,

Citizens and businesses are getting used to fast, user-friendly and globally accessible digital services in the private sector, and increasingly, they expect the same from the public sector. They now want to file taxes, register a business and apply for social benefits in their preferred language without having to deal with the various tokens and access cards currently needed to communicate with authorities. Public authorities not only need to digitise existing processes, they also need to strategically leverage new technologies and find new models of working to reap benefits of digital transformation - improved efficiency, reduced risks and costs and enhanced customer satisfaction.

To seize these opportunities, we are already seeing a wave of digital transformation on all levels of government. On national level, there is an emergence of centralised digital agencies to maximise cross-sector collaboration and innovation, such as the Agency for Public Management and eGovernment (Difi) in Norway, Agency for Digital Italy (AgID) and Agency for Digitisation (Digst) in Denmark. On EU level, the Commission has set up initiatives, programmes and priorities, such as the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) programme to facilitate the development of high-quality digital services by creating reusable digital building blocks, and the Digital Single Market (DSM) to remove barriers to online goods and services.

While digital technologies present great opportunities, they also bring great challenges. Digital transformation for IT solution providers – usually the public authority’s internal "digital agency" – is a complex and time-consuming task that involves a large number of stakeholders in a fast-changing environment. The truth is, IT providers can no longer plan their projects 10 years at a time. With our experience in the field, we realised that digital agencies need to embrace service-oriented digital transformation in a way that is agile and responsive to evolving needs.

That is why we developed the Service Offering Canvas (SOC) – a visual tool to help digital agencies articulate and plan value propositions for politically important digital themes, such as electronic identification or digital messaging. In essence, SOC works by making its user, the digital agency, actively think about what it does, why and for whom. By explicitly mapping services and stakeholders onto the Canvas, the user is channelled into a service mindset that ensures that stakeholders' needs are appropriately anticipated and met. When used on a continuous basis, SOC provides a way to keep one's finger on the pulse of their value proposition. It enables digital agencies to identify what they should start doing or stop doing as stakeholders come and go and political focuses shift. SOC also helps to structure dialogue and facilitate discussion when validating value propositions and priorities, which is instrumental in closing the gap between political intent and their execution in real-life. Most importantly, SOC takes a lightweight approach with a one-page template that is easy to adapt when needs change.

This Playbook introduces SOC and its operating model with a pragmatic, hands-on approach and real-life examples that can be customised to your needs. It is easier than you think to get started!

We hope you enjoy the read.