With over 20 years of practical experience in the field of public sector services, we have seen lots of trends, strategies and government master plans. But the outcome has seldomly met expectations. What had happened? And what do leading e-government countries and organisations do, that is so different and so much better?
Requirements for a public sector organisation changed considerably during the last two centuries and even if the internet and web 2.0 has been classified as “not relevant” by many public sector organisations, no one can stop this evolution now. It started with an almost yearly demand for public sector refurbishment in terms of efficiency and public responsiveness in daily life as well as a growing impact from cost cutting. But only a few recognised this challenge as an on-going process.
To begin with, let us break down the reason why results did not match the public expectations although budgets have increased year by year.
The first reason is a misinterpretation of the actual state. The current situation with popular hybrid internal processes based on paper, e-mails and office documents led most organisations – even in other industries like finance – to a lack of consistent documents or case information and non-observance of organisational and legal rules, know commonly as legal compliance. Thus the definition of comprehensive software requirements and service levels will not solve the organisational problem.
Another reason is lack of flexibility. E-government projects very often stand out due to their lengthy lead times, even if requirements change constantly.
A limited view of the whole issue also warrants mention. Installation of many small information technology islands is a fast way to achieve initial results but will consume all budgets if these islands have to be connected.
There are many more reasons why E-government projects and solutions did not satisfy expectations, but let us take a look at leading countries – in this case on the basis of the yearly European e-government rankings – there are some significant factors worth mentioning:
Some people tend to reinvent the wheel as often as possible. To be successful it is essential to use best practice not only in terms of the projects themselves but also with regard to field-tested software products. E-Government projects are projects to assemble fitting standard products together based on open web interfaces and establish organisational requirements. By focusing on software development, the technical focus will push the organisational requirements aside and the project will fail.
E-government projects need top management responsibility, but what does this mean? According to the commonly hybrid and not compliant work, leading countries or government bodies established organisational groundwork which allowed for entirely electronic work. This includes preparing all staff for changes as well as establishing the legal requirements. There is no way of bypassing this mandatory requirement. Many of our customers recognised this fact and therefore it has been possible to use our applications throughout the organisation. As a result, hybrid work has been stopped and compliance has been achieved again.
Implementation of reusable core components
Reusable components provide a solid basis for establishing complex E-government infrastructures. Base components include at least a standardised office tool, messaging system, authentication system, ERP system and a content repository (ECM system). All these components must be used within the whole organisation to ensure financially feasible infrastructure even in times of permanent change. Therefore a consolidation of comparable processes (e.g. financial processes, content based processes) has been enforced by leading organisations to keep the number of systems running as low as possible. A high number of running applications is a typical sign of high operating costs, which results in insufficient financial flexibility. Many of our experienced customers will confirm these statements. Our customers use Fabasoft eGov-Suite as collaboration tool, for document, records and workflow management, as an organisational archive, as online service integrated into existing portals and also as a backbone for vertical applications and other online services. This reuse gives our customers the opportunity to benefit from flexible adaptations and efficient rollout throughout the organisation.
The world is changing all the time, the phrase “customer orientation” applies to government bodies as well as commercial companies. Customer orientation constitutes a demand for online services for digital natives as well as for nearly all other citizens.
Compared to the successful web 2.0 enterprises, government has the same customers and so they have the same demands:
- Transactional Online Services
- A low technical entry barrier
- 24 hours and 7 days a week availability
- Premium and efficient service quality
- Ease of use
Our customers will confirm this through practical experience. Easy to use transactional online services will be accepted by customers/citizens even without exhausting marketing measures. Incidentally, that is a great opportunity to speed up your internal processes. Some of our customers created a whole new presence by providing transactional online services and reduced internal efforts and expenses.
Due to permanent changes of environment and demands agility has become a growing requirement for implementing successful E-government solutions. This means that the result has to match the customer/citizen needs at the end of the project. Adoption is required during the implementation which has to be enabled from the project organisation as well as the products used. Our professional services experts are specially trained for agile methods to enable our customers to focus on required changes and profit from these opportunities.
Currently our public sector customers have licensed Fabasoft eGov-Suite for more than 150,000 users as an internal backbone for document-orientated processes and also the usage as transactional online service is growing constantly. Thus we are proud to be a part of numerous best practice implementations in Europe which allow for dealing with actual challenges such as Cloud Computing, Open Government and many more.