Update your 2017 government engagement strategy by looking to last year

Now that you are back at work, what is the single most important priority for you? Apart from remembering where your colleagues went for holidays and all your passwords, one very important exercise is to review and refresh your government engagement strategy.

A well thought out government engagement strategy is the key to a successful 2017 for you, your organisation and for your clients.

update government engagement strategy

When it comes to updating an existing government engagement strategy for the new year, the best starting point is to review the strategies and plans put in place by government over the past 12 months. The plans the various government agencies have begun enacting are the clues to what they will continue to focus on and drive in 2017.

And remember, there will be a Victorian State Election in less than two years, so the absolute priority will be on those strategies that the Premier and his government have committed to deliver during their first term in office.

During 2016 we featured many of the Victorian Government’s commitments and strategies on our blog and in our newsletters. To kick-off the new year and assist you to update your 2017 government engagement strategy, we’ll now review some of the key 2016 initiatives.

Premier and Government commitments

Royal Commission into Family Violence: Tabled in Parliament 30 March 2016, the Commission’s 227 recommendations are directed at improving the foundations of the current system, seizing opportunities to transform the way that the government responds to family violence, and building the structures that will guide and oversee a long-term reform program that deals with all aspects of family violence. (See also our blog post.)

10-year plan to end family violence: Released on 24 November 2016, the 10-year plan to end family violence, titled Ending Family Violence: Victoria’s Plan for Change, is designed to ensure that the current and future governments implement the reforms needed. (See also our blog post.)

Supercare Pharmacies Initiative: This initiative introduces a 24-hour a day seven days a week pharmacy service combined with an evening nursing service between 6pm and 10pm. These pharmacies are known as Supercare Pharmacies.

Level Crossing Removal Projects

Infrastructure projects including transport, roads, schools and hospitals

Government Strategies

Digitising Health: Released in November 2016, Digitising Health is a roadmap to transform the way healthcare is delivered and accessed by the community, with a focus on health information and related technologies. (See also our blog post and Dr Steve Hodgkinson’s guest post on Platform+Agile.)

Statements of Direction: Released collectively in 2016, the Statements of Direction flag the implementation of new systems and standards in the public sector to drive reformed service delivery models for citizens. They include the Workplace Environment Standard, Network and Cyber Security Statement of Direction, Human Resources Systems Statement of Direction and Finance Systems Statement of Direction. (Also see our blog post.)

Creative State: Released in June 2016, this is the state’s first creative industries strategy, driving creative industries at the small to medium business and incubator levels to further drive competitiveness and investment. (Also see our blog post.)

2016 Victorian ICT Strategy: Released in June 2016, the Victorian ICT Strategy demonstrates a commitment to digital reform across the public sector, with the assistance of industry and for the benefit of the community at large. (Also see our blog post.)

Future Industries Sector Strategies: Launched early 2016, the Future Industries Sector strategies focus on eight key sectors to shift the entire state economy. In developing plans for the growth of these eight sectors, the key drivers of change are customers, new knowledge and technology, and business models.

Other government initiatives of note:

  • Intelligent transport program (also see our blog post)
  • Regional Partnership Consultations to give regional communities greater say about what matters to them and ensure their voices reach the heart of government.
  • ICT Project Governance and the ICT Digital Dashboard
  • Cyber security
  • Open data and the creation of the Victorian Centre for Data Insights to change the way that government collects information and build new capabilities to analyse data to protect families at risk
  • Digital Government
  • Service Delivery reform
  • Public sector reform and organisational reform focusing on culture, change management and flexible structures that can withstand Machinery of Government changes: all while focusing on customer service delivery (see our blog post)

Of course many other strategies and initiatives have been released. The first step in defining your government engagement strategy is to identify the areas of government you want to pursue and research the policies and strategies relevant to that market.

Updating your government engagement strategy

To update your strategy, you need to consider all the core aspects that make up a government engagement strategy:

  • A description of the products or services you want to sell to government
  • Whole of government and agency directions or strategies (as discussed above)
  • Your targeted government bodies (departments/agencies/other government entities)
  • Your specific contact points
  • Your business priorities, and
  • Teamwork

1. Redefine your products and/or services

It is essential to make sure you have a set of well-defined and appropriate products and services to market to government — and that you have defined their benefits to government. Whether you are continuing with an existing product set or moving into 2016 with a refreshed product or service set, take the time to review and redefine if necessary.

2. Align your solutions with (updated) government strategies and directions

The magic of a government engagement strategy happens when you align a government strategy or direction (the problem) with your product or service (the solution). For each of your targeted government entities, review their websites and discuss with your key contacts any updates to strategies and priorities, and potential timelines for implementation. If you work across a broad industry sector (for example, construction, transport or technology), review strategies that operate across the whole of government as well as those for single departments/agencies.

3. Review your targeted government bodies’ needs

Make sure you target the right government customer — every one in your strategy must have a need for your offering. (If you sell an innovative transport solution I doubt very much that the Public Records Office would have much use for it.) As in point 2 above, make sure you update your targeted government customers against changes or updates in published strategies and policies.


The Victorian Government directory contains a listing of all Victorian Government departments and agencies, their responsibilities and structure. For many of the government entities listed it also includes an organisational structure.

Departmental websites also outline portfolios, responsibilities, positions and structures, and should be consulted as you update your strategy.

2016 Budget Papers including Budget Paper #3 that outlines major capital and operating expenditure commitments by portfolio. (Also see our blog post.)

Procurement Activity Plans list upcoming procurements by description, proposed quarter for release, and proposed method of release — for example, quotation or tender.

4. Update your contact points

Similar to point 3 above, you must have the right contact points in your strategy. Most  government people agree that industry communications are important, but it becomes annoying and time wasting for them if the query or meeting request should have gone to someone else more relevant. Double-check you have the right contacts, use your existing client relationships or the resources listed above. This time of the year is always a good time reconnect with existing contacts to confirm they are still in the same role and request a new contact if appropriate.

5. Allocate your priorities

To give yourself the best chance of succeeding, prioritise all your government engagement activities over the next 12 months and make sure you have a realistic and achievable plan of attack. (If a government engagement strategy fails, it is often because it seems too daunting to implement, leading the business to give up, frequently before even starting.) Also review your priorities against departmental strategies. You may find that what was once a priority for a department, and thus for your engagement strategy, has now dropped down the list. To paraphrase a well used saying: Planning to prioritise (and execute) is planning to fail.

6. Get your team onside

Regardless of the size of your organisation, it is vital that everyone involved is on the same page. All stakeholders need to understand the overall strategy and priorities, the targeted outcomes and the role they need to play. For larger organisations, that means the executive team, the marketing team, technical specialists, and even external business partners. For smaller organisations, this is your management team and relevant colleagues.

Well thought-out government engagement strategies really do work.

Your engagement strategy is therefore a valuable document. Spending a few weeks to review and refresh it to best match government priorities is not just essential, it is your first step towards a successful 2017.

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