Interview

Shared IT Services for e-Governance : Adaire Fox-Martin, Vice President of the Public Services group for SAP

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Adaire Fox-Martin, Vice President of the Public Services group for SAPAs Vice President of the Public Services group for SAP’s Asia Pacific Division, Adaire Fox-Martin oversees the strategic direction and activities in the area of public services in the health, education and defence sectors across the region and executive relationships with customers and partners. Ms. Fox-Martin is a key member of the SAP leadership team and plays a lead role in delivering SAP’s offering to public secto­r customers. A respected thought leader, Ms. Fox-Martin continues to be invited at seminars and conferences by the media and analysts to address public services issues ranging from e-Government transformation and reengineering of Government processes to public service policies. She is regularly featured and quoted in numerous publications throughout Asia and Australia. Ms. Fox-Martin has over 20 years of experience in the field of information technology and management.

Effective e-Governance can take information technology (IT) to the common man, while helping Governments to regulate their services in line with the changing needs of both citizens and stakeholders, as well as develop the economy. Recognizing the growing importance of e-Governance we have been bringing you a much needed, regular, interactive platform, where your questions on a pre-defined theme are answered by Adaire Fox-Martin, Vice President, Public Services, SAP Asia Pacific and Japan.

Increasingly government agencies are looking for mechanisms that can bring large scale efficiencies not only for their core operations and citizen services but also for the management of their ICT and E-Governance systems. They look out for various options including Public-Private-Partnerships (PPP) in various forms. One of the potential panaceas could well be sharing of IT services across different agencies that have a largely homogeneous set of requirements. This issue of “Ask SAP” addresses a few questions that help define the concept, way to deploy, and its benefits.

What is IT Shared Services? Is it relevant for government?

Sharing of IT Services in the private sector is very common and has resulted in enormous efficiencies, cost savings and achievement of higher service levels. It essentially is a mechanism to bring common services (eg. finance and HR) on centralized IT systems which is supported by a pool of specialists, and they serve multiple entities and geographies within an organization. Government organizations, Ministries and Departments are large and have several homogenous operations and services which can be commonly deployed, used and benefited from. Shared Services in various areas of government is quite widespread globally.

Could you provide examples of IT Shared Services in Government?

From a functional perspective all common operations of government like finance, personnel, procurement, works management etc. can be easily brought on to shared and centralized systems. In fact, shared e-Procurement systems are available in many state governments. Additionally, even citizen centric services and other core operations like tax and revenue, health, education etc. can be shared by homogenous agencies and departments at the State and Local level. For example, it will be extremely effective and cost-advantageous to get a set of 30-40 small municipalities in a State to ride on shared municipal administration and E-Governance systems.

How can Government expect to benefit from Shared IT Services?

Government organizations are large and there is a lot of homogeneity of services across departments and agencies. They stand to benefit hugely through shared services. Some key benefits that have been seen globally with government adoption of shared services are:

  • Increase in quality of services while cutting costs
  • Achieving economies of scale
  • Improvement in productivity due to reduction of administrative and IT intervention
  • Resource reallocation to improve citizen services than focusing on back-office operations
  • Increase in public trust and public value due to cost savings and better constituent services

Several research reports (eg. Confederation of British Industry, Hackett book of numbers, and eGov Monitor) provide comprehensive details about the monetized benefits of shared services

What are the key references of shared services and how can it be deployed?

References exist not only for public administration and management but also for government core operations and citizen services. They are widespread across Central, State and Local governments. Some key examples are Postal Services in US, Revenue and Customs in UK, Queensland Government, several ULBs in UK, Transport for London and Unified Port of San Diego. Deployments of Shared Services essentially require a senior level mandate that cuts across many departments and geographies. For example, the Department of Urban Administration for State Municipalities, Finance and IT for State level e-Procurement and Commercial Taxes, Personnel and IT for State level HR, CGA for Central Ministries Finance and Accounts etc. Once this is achieved, world-class vendors including SAP can assist in providing such platforms. More information about Shared Services is available at http://www.sap.com/industries/publicsector/sharedservices.epx along with downloadable documents that can provide useful information on the approach, deployment and benefits.

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