May 2011

The Catalytic Effects of e-Governance

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Praful Gharpure
IT Process Consultant, Government Industry Solution Unit, TCS, mumbai

e-Service delivery in our country is fragmented due to multiple entities. e-Governance initiatives in different departments are carried out independent of each other, which dilutes the impact. One-window citizen services can be a reality

Though National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) started in 2004, the history of e-governance in the country dates back to 1976 when National Informatics  Centre (NIC) was established. With the formation of NIC, Government of India  strategically decided to take effective steps for the development of information  systems and utilisation of information resources and also for introducing  computer based decision support system (informatics-led development) in  government ministries and departments to facilitate planning and programme  implementation to further the growth of economic and social development.

Since then NIC has conceptualised, developed and implemented a large number  of projects for various Central and State Government Departments and  Organisations. Some of these are noteworthy projects which offer the  citizens a glimpse of the multi-faceted, diverse activities of NIC, touching upon    all spheres of e-Governance and thereby influencing the lives of millions of citizens of India.

While these initiatives are continuing even today, it is worthwhile to take a look   at the extent of fulfillment of customer expectations. For a user of    e-Services in India, there are some basic requirements which are referred in process-oriented initiatives as “Critical to Quality” (CTQs) for the service under   consideration. These essentially are the “Voice of Customer” (VOCs). In   the context of the subject where the final aim is to deliver an improved service, the improvement measures need to be based on end-user requirements. Thesolutions need to be complimentary for he user requirements which come out from such VOCs. There is significant gap in this regard which is becoming a challenge for acceptance and faith of the customer i.e the ctizen in the system.

Situational analysis

The National e-Governance Plan launched has induced a wave of automation in procedures in government departments. IT implementation has found a place on agenda of almost every department.

the individual service providing departments have already initiated various  e-Governance projects. Most common of which is the hosting of city website  which intends to serve as source of information to the users. NeGP has adequately considered these initiatives and ensured that all these get integrated to the State Service Delivery Gateway (SSDG) to provide single channel of information to end-user.

The fact remains that the individual departments have  different mechanisms of identifying the concerned end users from the same set  of citizens. As a result, the individual service provider departments are  interacting with the same set of users independently mul- tiple times, further the processes followed result in series of rework loops, duplication of efforts and non-value added works.

One of the key aspects missing in all the work so far is the reach of these  initiatives to the common man, who is the customer for the services. The fact  which stands out is, the service delivery is fragmented with multiple entities as,  the e-Governance initiatives in the different departments are carried out  independent of each other; as such the impact of the initiatives is diluted for the  want of a user-base itself i.e. the citizens who are the customers for the  service. For a citizen to avail an electronic service delivery, it takes at least  basic steps as outlined in the box adjacent.

These steps are preliminary ones for any electronic service delivery mechanism; additional steps, multi-level authorisation etc are the other  complexities which vary from application to application. However for a majority of citizen-centric ones, there is a need for process level reforms with strong backing of automated decision support mechanism to be successful. The basic e-Service process value analysis is described below. It identifies the  pitfalls within the delivery mechanism which prevents the end-user from  availing the service

Process value analysis

As per World Bank data in 2008, India had 4.5 internet users per 100 people, with overall users totaling to 51,750,000 which translates to mere 4 percent of  the total population. In such scenarios, the extent of success of e-Governance  initiatives can be easily gauged. However, government has taken steps to  induce the concept of citizen facilitation centers / Citizen Service Centers (CSC)  to take the e-Enabled services closer to the masses specially in rural areas.

Thus  the process induces a medium of CSCs where the operators are dependent on the centrally hosted IT solutions by the respective departments whose services are extended through these CSCs. In the light of this situation, it is worthwhile to see the potential failure  modes of the 6 steps to e-Service delivery described above. The Failure Modes Effects Analysis (FMEA) results  are shown in the table.

The above analysis brings out a striking feature that the highest risk of failure  (Depicted by Risk Prioritisation Number – RPN) of the process comes from the  failure modes like (1) re-works on account of resubmission of documents; (2) no  optimisation of documents; (3) need to visit office to close the process; and  (4)personal follow-ups. The Process Value analysis also links the process failure  modes to its potential causes outlined in cause & effect diagram depicted  in Illustration II below. In some cases there is no apparent cause, it is  simply on account of non translation of Voice of Customer in to system requirements.

As mentioned earlier the CTQ – VOC Link is a key to success for  any online service delivery initiative. Some of the VOCs are (1) easy access to process information; (2) availability of assistance for document submission; (3)  minimal travel / trips to offices; (4) assured cycle time; (5)real time update on  status; (6)availability of information on “How to” and “why” etc. requirements to be fulfilled for a service to be delivered; and (7) whom to reach for questions.

For a basic service delivery process on which a common man is dependent, the answers to above requirements are key to the attainment of end-user  satisfaction on delivery of service. The above  discussion brings out some key aspects of current online service delivery which have led to poor end user    satisfaction and reduced faith in the online system. The Failure Modes & Effect analysis has brought out the areas of concern to be addressed to ensure  acceptance of the service.

The intent of e-Governance is to accelerate the current processes by automating the same and making them accessible to the end-user. The part of making the processes accessible to enduser is at infancy stage in majority of cases. However this very aspect if coupled with inter-departmental information sharing has a potential to transform the process performance. The catalytic effect induced with this shall lead to value enhancement for both process owner  department and the customer of the process.

Catalytic effects

e-Service delivery in our country is fragmented due to multiple entities. In addition the, e-Governance initiatives in different departments are carried out  independent of each other, which dilutes the impact of the initiatives. One-window citizen services can be a reality—the first step is to set up an interdepartmental data exchange

Even though IT is on the agenda of all departments, an integrated approach to its rollout and effective sharing of  information and IT infrastructure is lacking. The present e-Governance  initiatives need to be looked at from a service management perspective where  information exchange among various departments is a vital element for service  delivery and support assurance to the end customer, the citizen.

The ground  work for the type of data    exchange visualised here is reasonably
in place with IT implementation across majority of departments providing citizen service. The need of the hour is to bring these services under one single window for user to avail those. It is equally important to provide seamless navigation and maintain the linkage of identities created for a user with each provider.

Considering the fact that the IT solutions exist at various service  providers the need is to leverage the existing infrastructure already in place  and build over the same. It is equally important for extending the service where  in a user gets to use the service himself or through an agency without  being forced to visit the departments for service ful- fillment. The key links of  inter-departmental information exchange is missing and is left to end-user  leading to rework at customer end.

Conclusion

Successful implementation is a key to the realisation of benefits of concepts like  the one proposed which brings in multiple stakeholders on a single forum. Careful planning, selected piloting and ease of replication of solution are the key success factors.

The dynamic nature of demographics s a challenge for all the  major service delivery providers worldwide. The portability of data across  departments is important for an efficient e-Governance mechanism with  scalability to cover variety of services for citizens across the country.

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