Interview

Municipalities: At the forefront of e-Governance : Mathew Thomas, Vice President, Strategic Industries, SAP India, India

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Mathew Thomas
Vice President, Strategic Industries, SAP India

What are your views on e-Government implementation in Urban Local Body (ULB)?

Extensive efforts are being made by the Government and the local body to cater to the needs of the citizens.  Today the world over Municipal bodies are assigning the public value creation that can extend beyond financial saving and bring in integrity for a wide range of stakeholders, including constituents and citizens.

India is witnessing an urgent demand for a major transition that would facilitate citizen services and improve administrative efficiency to be more transparent and accountable, few such examples is the successful e-Governance project initiated by Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), Aurangabad Municipality etc runs on SAP.  Such e-Government implementations have enabled ULB and other public service organizations to respond quickly to changing regulations, manage internal and customer relationships and optimise resources. By bridging organisational boundaries to support information sharing and streamline processes, it increases productivity to enhance service to constituents and customers while slashing costs. Urban Bodies or Municipalities have been at the forefront of e-Governance (compared to other government departments and agencies). As e-Governance matures, local bodies need to look at comprehensive applications that cover citizen services, governance and infrastructure on a fully integrated platform which preferably brings in best practices with the solution.

What are your company’s offerings in the ULB segment?

SAP has vast experience in serving more than 1400 governments in 70 countries worldwide. SAP offers comprehensive set of software, technologies, and services tailored to help government and ULBs transform and improve operations. As market leaders, SAP presently serves 50 customers in public sector including municipal corporations such as MCGM, Bhopal, KDMC and Aurangabad in India.

Comprehensively integrated and readily available (enterprise applications based) ICT solutions for the Urban Local Body are available with some of the world leading software providers. These solutions have proven themselves over time and have been deployed at various levels of government globally. They include central, state and local governments including several city and county councils. These solutions usually provide for legislative compliance, improved quality of citizen’s life, efficient management operations and transformation of services and payment delivery as their key priorities. The main components of these solutions include integrated applications for outreach, relationship management, case management, grant and fund management, and program execution. Importantly, these components need to work over an integrated database of beneficiaries using a single view of the beneficiary record. In this context, it is useful to note that the Universal ID project could be built around the concept of master data management (including the management of “below poverty line – BPL” information) that serves as the fundamental basis for leveraging the various components of integrated applications.

SAP for Public Sector helps these government organizations like Urban Local Body respond quickly to changing demands for services, and enable faster, more flexible service delivery at lower costs. SAP for Public Sector draws on best practices SAP has garnered from more than 30 years. It provides governments and organizations with the ability to optimize operational, political and social return on investment, while increasing efficiencies and improving service to taxpayers and constituents.

What challenges did you face while implementing e-Governance in ULB?

Today ULBs are upgrading their systems to better platforms. The demand for e-Governance is growing steadily in India. A policy direction by Government to consider enterprise applications and shared services by Local Bodies could significantly improve the quality of urban governance and infrastructure. While working closely with ULB’s, SAP has often faced challenges in terms of managing change with a comprehensive integration and application platform that works with companies existing IT infrastructure. They also had to integrate silos of information across government departments and levels of organisation to assemble and channelise the vast amount of data in any such organisations.

The other major challenge, of course, is the sheer size of the supporting agencies and manpower involved in the ULB sector as well as the number of beneficiaries. Given the need for efficient and transparent delivery through a large chain of institutions, processes and people, it is imperative that government provides for a comprehensive and integrated social services management solution which can provide a common, open-standards based ICT platform to administer, monitor and analyse the various programs. Such systems would be a good supplement or replacement to currently fragmented or archaic systems.
Gayatri Maheshwary

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