eGovernment – How to Handle Change

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Get Buy-In for Change

At the start of an Electronic Government or eGovernment program you need buy-in from the highest level of leaders of a country. You need to be able to show the benefits and reason for the change.

People react differently towards changes. There are people who resist change out of fear of the unknown and the comfort with the present. That is why you need to spend more time and energy to convince those people to let them see the needs and the benefits of the changes. Some people embrace change eagerly as a matter of achieving potential opportunities. Others simply flow with the evolution of nature and allow change to play a constant role in their way of working.
Over the past decade many governments have conceived and implemented programs intended to launch their government into the digital realm. eGovernment leads a country into the Information Age. It improves both how the government operates internally as well as how it delivers services to the people. It improves the convenience, accessibility and quality of interactions with citizens and businesses; simultaneously, it improves information flows and processes within government and as a result speeds up and increases the quality of policy development, coordination and enforcement. The vision of an eGovernment is that government and businesses work together for the benefit of the country and all its citizens.

Map out the Existing Landscape

Before starting to design a high level architectural vision, you need to know the current situation. What agencies exist, what departments they have, which internal and external services they provide, who are the consumers of those services, who are the 3rd parties that are involved to provide those services, who are the stakeholders, what is their involvement…

You also need a high level planning for the preliminary phase. Estimate according to the number of departments involved, and this to map out the current landscape and to get a high level baseline. Schedule iterations and update your planning accordingly. The more knowledge you get, the more accurate you can plan.

The next step is to baseline the high level goals, processes, inputs & outputs, roles & responsibilities, triggers… for each agency and department. Analyze those baselines and look for overlaps, gaps, workarounds, legacy processes. Find the quick wins, question the reason behind processes, and remove obstacles to get those quick wins in place. Make sure you have the correct figures before you try to prove the benefits.

One of the ways I use to show the benefit of a change to a large variety of stakeholders is graphical, even an animated screenplay can be a real eye-opener. Consider this story for instance: After a first research on current process of delivering official notices from one department to another, I came across this scenario.

“Agency A department x was responsible for creating and printing legal notices for a certain application and sending them to different departments. So they scanned the notices and produced several copies and send them to different departments. Department y needed several copies for each person involved on one application, so they too scanned in and made several copies before sending those copies, via a courier, to Agency B department z who scanned in the paper copied them again and send them through to department w who immediately shredded the paper because they only used a monthly summary of those notices.”

I showed this by making an animation of the exact route one specific notice made during its life-cycle and then an animated walk-through of the proposed solution. Before that moment nobody knew this was happening.
There are at least two main issues in this story:

  • Agency A had a regulation in place, since the 1980s, which said that legal documents were not to be send electronically. Nobody ever questioned that regulation. There was never a reason to send the legal notice as an un-writable electronic document by secure mail to a designated email address to the different departments let alone other agencies.
  • Agency B was a merger of two former agencies in the late 1990s and they never took the time to improve the process between those departments. That is why department z never knew what department w did with the received notices.

This is an extreme example but this shows that there are quick wins you can start very early in the process. It also explains the obvious potential to improve even more.

Get the ball rolling

Every phase has its milestone. After the presentation of the high level architectural vision to the stakeholders, there is a go/no-go decision that needs to be made. Once you have your ‘go’, you can get into a more detailed analysis and the design of baseline business architecture for each department.

Regine Deleu

Author: Regine Deleu

Regine is an Enterprise Strategic Advisor & Lead Enterprise Architect working for the New Zealand Government on the Transformation Mobilisation Programme for All-of-Government. She has more than 20 years working experience spanning Enterprise, Solution and Technical Architecture, Project Management, and Software Engineering. Regine is also a TOGAF Review Board member, and Advisory Board member at the Strategy and Enterprise Architecture Society.

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4 Comments

  1. Excellent blog Regine! Honestly, having been in government space for several years now, I relate very well with what you are saying here.. Stakeholder buy-in is critical but most critical I believe is managing change positively.. the change I speak of here is “transformational change”.. one that relates to the “will” of public sector employees embracing change that brings along prosperity to citizens, businesses and government at large. In my experience, e-Government programs that do not focus on change in process usually end up failing as the best they deliver is an automated legacy way of working., most likely full of bureaucratic process steps and unnecessary handshake between government agencies.. Business architects come in handy here.. they help transform the government by leading and pushing through changes in government operating model.. that is the start point for any progressive and successful e-Government program.. The next phase of e-Government is smart government.. there is a big risk that most of such initiatives will fail too.. not because they don’t adopt innovation but because they engrave innovative solutions on top of legacy and outdated and bureaucratic processes that do not eliminate the difficulties that impede progress.. those that will succeed will be the ones that embrace change internally for the ultimate gain of external stakeholders.. Oh.. one more thing, don’t forget to post a summary of your blogs in SEAS LinkedIn Discussion Board.. Once again, I loved your blog Regine!

    • Regine Deleu

      Thanks Fahmy!

      Yes, I agree, the will to change in the public sector is still not really there… but we are getting there.
      The bureaucratic process steps and unnecessary handshake is another aspect that makes innovation very difficult to succeed. A lot of great innovative ideas from employees are not even getting ‘expressed’ let along being initiated, just because of this bureaucratic, the assumption exist that it will not be taken serious anyway.

  2. Regine,

    Based on what I read in this blog, I don’t disagree with anything and would imagine supplying content for the change leaders who I support to get this buy-in. Am I reading your message in the way I describe what I think your describing?

    Lisa

    • Regine Deleu

      I think so Lisa. Maybe we can catch up and have a separate talk about it.

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