November 2005

e-Governance implementation in Government of Pondicherry (GoP) – a holistic approach

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Introduction

Over the last few years, the Government of Pondicherry (a union territory of South India) has been doing enormous preparatory work towards large scale implementation of e-Governance. Under this effort, a model has been positioned based on user’s perspective management (i.e. a non-technical, self explanatory documentation of processes, procedures, rules and all other references) parallel to the generally followed information system implementation roadmap (i.e. creating information system architecture, Functional Requirement Specifications (FRS), System Requirement Specifications (SRS), Development of enterprise application etc.)

Development of this model has been done by taking in cognizance the situation of many organizations, who in the long run are facing a situation of going back to the square one, for not taking a view of information system through the user’s perspective and instead, judging by the user’s requirements through information system.

Encompassing the aspects of time tested management and organisational functions is of paramount importance for success of any e-Governance project. Presently these are getting subjected within information system, leaving very little scope for improvements involving actual users.

The details followed (as under) will try to explain the much desired strong foundation that should be put in place within an organisation before embarking into any ambitious e-Governance initiative.

Comprehending e-Governance:

  • e-Governance aims towards brining out transparency in Government processes.
  • e-Governance works on one-to-many and many-to-one relationship between people and government departments.
  • e-Governance provides a holistic approach for better governance, rather than just developing applications from an operational view.

Conceptual approach of Government of Pondicherry:

  • A problem identification centric approach rather than a solution centric approach.
  • A domain driven system featuring continuous improvement within the processing systems parallel to information system and its continuous customization.
  • A research based empowerment of departmental managers and staff in deriving best results out of the automation, instead of driving a fast track automation to give results.
  • A conceptualized management model for visualization of end results of e-Governance and its after effects.

Goals set forth    

  1. Managers’ empowerment


This is the most important and vital human factor involved in e-Governance transformation. The departmental managers and staff should be adequately empowered, oriented and trained to create requirements by and for themselves and hence create a path of continuous development. 
     

  • Process standardization


The management model envisaged requires stringent process standardization. The processes, based on time-tested management functions (viz., planning, organizing, coordinating, directing, controlling and reviewing) should be related to time tested organization functions (viz., Services, manufacturing, marketing, personnel, material and finance).

 
  • Comprehending Departmental Processing Points

    Within an organization, under every function or department, the work generated at one point, is processed at different points, following a decision made on conditional points, based on review, leading to enforcing control points. This should work as a cycle and continue throughout the organisational process.
  • Comprehending Integration Spectrum

    These may relate to processes and activities within a single department, as also between individual departments –

Services Integration: Involving transit of products and services, movement of goods and similar such actions.

Financial Integration: Involving fund transfer, excess cash transfer, consolidation of accounts and related actions.

Personnel Integration: Involving transfer of employees and other activities involving human resource management.

Material Integration: Allocation and movement of materials and allied activities.

  • Comprehending Productivity Spectrum

    The productivity spectrum can be measured on the basis of parameters such as – Cost control, Incentives, Project monitoring, Waste control, Value analysis, Performance budgeting and many more that can be taken care of.

  • Comprehending Emergency Spectrum

    In wake of the recent Tsunami disaster, government departments have additional requirements for comprehending emergency situations born out of disasters. Different case studies need to be analysed and understood for addressing such requirements.
  • Comprehending Audit Requirements

    Internal Audit plays a major role in the government sector. This should become an integral part of e-Governance. System Audit should take its root from the internal audit. Audit under e-Governance will become very complex as far as understanding is concerned. Re-designing and reinventing for non-compliance observations is expensive and time consuming. Over time the entire user department will become dependent on the IT department for audit. There comes the need for empowerment of the users, rather than by the IT department who are not at all concerned with the actual work.
  • The starting point

    The basis for discussions deliberated so far requires a comprehensive organization process documentation, involving creation of the entity’s structure, processes, process subjects, process actions, rules, events and integration of all of the above.

    The documentation should act as an:

    • Analysis base, for identifying the requirements of each structural element
    • Integration base, for providing link between elements through documents and action flow
    • Auditing base, for evaluating and continuous improvement

    In addition,

    • It should act as an enabler to evaluate, analyze and implement existing and emerging management and system concepts.
    • The process documentation should reflect a process design from user perspective, which will help government departments to manage or review either an in-house application development, external development, project monitoring, functional specification requirement planning and freezing in order to avoid any future ambiguity or executive exodus and most importantly to review large scale software development and integration in time bound manner.
    • These documents should become a reference base for Enterprise

    Resources Planning (ERP), e-Procurement (Supply Chain Management), Workflow, Organization modelling, Object based designing, Process Reengineering, System Audit, Total Quality Management and Quality Auditing.

     

    Why process documentation is often ignored?

    In spite of the tremendous benefits that process documentation provides, the inhibiting factors for both user managers and system managers are identified as under: time-consuming, elaborative and complex integration, difficulty in comprehending intricacies, lack of user-friendly methodological approach, apparent similarity with ISO 900X documentation standards (the prescribed standards for documentation of organisational procedures for quality certification) and general identification with process modeling and case tools (which are essentially oriented towards software project management.)

    The Organization Process Documentation and Integration (OPDI) Adopted in GoP

    In order to provide an answer to the problems discussed as above, an Organization Process Documentation and Integration (OPDI) has been designed for Government of Pondicherry. Developed by Centre for Info-Business Systems (CIBS) – this unique methodology is providing the required management model that meets the set goals.

    The methodology

    OPDI is not that simple and at the same time not very difficult. Only a clear-cut methodo-logical approach and comprehensive procedural analysis is required. Apart from this, time factor and the complexities of cross-functional process linkages are the other critical factors that are to be effectively taken care of.

    rocess standardization

    Every organisation requires certain process standards to be adopted as a base for setting up OPDI. In order to achieve this, the processes, based on time-tested management functions (viz., planning, organizing, coordinating, directing, controlling and reviewing) should be related to the time-tested organization functions (viz., manufacturing, marketing, personnel, material and finance).

    Process documentation

    OPDI puts in black and white what is happening inside the organization. It should cover the various ‘units’ where the processes are performed and under each unit, the various types of ‘functions’ that are being carried out. Following this, there should be departmental details and the sections where the actual work is performed. In addition, there should be detailing of processes, followed by process subjects and process actions. As applied to e-Governance, the ‘units’ are the secretariat, the departments, collectorate, panchayats and blocks.

    However, this is only the first stage of process documentation and it has to be much more comprehensive in order to meet the organisation outlook. Details of various external events affecting each process, the types of issues and requirements that the process action has to address, the business rules on which the actions are to perform and the procedural steps through which the action is effected should be made explicit.

    Process integration

    The documentation should encompass integration issues between processes of an individual department, between multiple departments, between functions and between units. The connectivity actions and document linkages should identify this integration. Once these connectivity points are clearly identified at process action level (reflecting the organization process integration) the same becomes the organization info-structure.

    Commitment required

    In order to make OPDI successful, every organisation is required to address the issue of ‘staff commitment’ towards establishing and maintaining it. This is because, although every user individually agrees in principle for a need of organisation process documentation, there is bound to be some hesitation when it comes to transforming it within the organisation perspective. This happens primarily due to the onus of responsibility and the amount of work involved in it. Thus, there should be a conscious effort to bring all of them towards the organisation administrative stream and build up a common commitment level.

    The other imperative is the commitment of top management. In fact, the commitment of functional and business managers and that of the top management is mutually interdependent. The intention for commitment from both sides should be clear, such that there is no scope for performance of one function to be competing with the other, resulting in enterprise performance falling prey to business competition.

    Expandability

    Sustenance and expandability are the two forewords of any organisational management. This depends on continuous improvement in performance of the organisation through Process Re-engineering, System Audit and Quality Management.

    The OPDI should therefore take care of the Process Re-engineering requirements by evaluating units, functions, processes and actions so as to ascertain the level of value addition and take appropriate steps for correcting redundancies. The documentation should further take care of the system audit, covering performance of the organisation through various internal audit and management reviews. It should also take care of compliance check for ISO standards or any other international quality standards, as applicable.

    In a nutshell OPDI seeks to provides

    • An effective convergence of both management and system requirements
    • A base for continuous improvement through re-engineering, auditing and quality auditing
    • Understandable by any user with regard to process flow and integration elements of the organisation
    • A bridge towards comprehensive and quick organisational automation

    Current status

    As of now, the OPDI has been implemented in the Department of Planning and Research of Pondicherry. The re-engineering exercise has been conducted and some of the process standardization which are arrived at for the department are – Input Collection Process ; Input Consolidation Process ; Approval Process ; Finalization Process ; Circulation Process and Modifying Process. The benefit of this process standardization would apply for each and every department and this runs parallel to the Information System approach which is currently being carried out.

    Conclusion

    The whole approach of OPDI is to build capacity by creating a users perspective information system framework towards standardization of internal processes in Government of Pondicherry. To accomplish this, the need for thought process and development oriented effort is equally recognized, along with specification processes and result oriented approach.

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