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Government Projects On the Horns of a Dilemma!

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Arpan Bansal

Arpan Bansal
Head-Center of Excellence for
e-Governance

A holistic management of business applications is a strategic imperative for government agencies, as it is critical for long-term viability of e-Governance projects” says Arpan Bansal, Head – Center of Excellence for e-Governance, Newgen Software

Governments’ tryst with new-age technology always puts them in the dilemma of build versus buy when it comes to building futuristic applications for citizens. Despite spending huge money and time, long term success of government IT projects in India has been unsatisfactory. The government has achieved just a small portion of the productivity improvements realized by private industry on similar investments. Achieving similar benefits requires a new way of thinking and a very different approach to IT system development. Platform-based Approach Vs Bespoke – A Quick Comparison.

Every department wants software applications that can help meet their agencies’ specific requirements. The most common way to address this need has been custom software development. Several applications have been created in the past to address specific requirements of government agencies and departments. But high initial costs, unclear and ambiguous requirements, long development cycles and substantial change costs are rendering custom development out of favor. A Business Process Management (BPM) platform approach allows IT teams of government agencies to deliver tailored applications incurring minimal cost and time. Changes to applications are completely controlled by the department, with no dependency on thirdparty software providers, and cost a fraction of what changes to traditional custom developed applications cost. Ongoing improvements to the core BPM platform ensure an agile IT infrastructure to proactively address future business needs and compliance mandates.

Advantages
• Flexibility, Designed for Change
• Strong Audit Trail Requirements
• Dashboards to Monitor Process Performance
• Long-Term Centralized Archival of Documents
• Ensuring Authenticity of Important Documents (Digital Signatures)

Key Challenges

Development & Maintenance Cost:
A bespoke style is traditionally time taking and ends up generating a lot of codes that need dedicated maintenance staff. Thus, pushing the overall cost of the project and maintenance becomes a challenge.

Flexibility:
The ability to deliver new features in conjunction with the expectations of citizens and leadership is the key to building credibility for government organizations. This cannot be done with a monolithic application.

Integration:
Intergation with the entire ecosystem of other applications is the key to ensuring maximum benefits and a seamless experience. A platform provides integration ready architecture through modern technologies such as Web services, making this possible at the application layer itself. Bespoke development, on the other hand, needs to build everything ground up.

Security:
Applications that are built on certified platforms inherit all security features automatically and need very little effort to comply with security standards of government agencies.

Right Architecture:
Past experience shows that applications built as bespoke need several iterations to meet the scalability and other expectations, especially the ones that are used directly by citizens. A robust platform with a multi-tiered architecture sets it right at the first time.

Roadmap:
With the advent of new technologies such as Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud, and Internet of Things (IOT), innovative ways are being devised to do things faster and more efficiently. In this dynamic environment, e-Governance applications cannot be rigid and monolithic. A contemporary platform enables direct alignment to the roadmap of the platform itself and makes the application future ready.

License Cost:
This is one thing that makes many agencies prefer a bespoke approach. However, the cost incurred in bespoke model is always much higher than that involved in platform based approach. Many vendors have come up with flexible policies to support the government’s ‘Digital India’ initiative. An in-depth cost comparison can help to take the right decision.

Benefits of a BPM & ECM-based Approach
Key components of the IT strategy of government agencies should be to deliver IT solutions faster, for less money, and with fewer resources. Design applications that comply with open standards, and are built to meet future objectives with a clear roadmap should be adopted. With this context in mind, for applications that are process-centric an ECM & BPM based platform is the default choice.

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