Minimum Government, Maximum Governance? is a slogan that caught the attention of a billion people in the recently concluded general elections in my home country. Fairly enough, the slogan did deliver the required results to the leader who coined the phrase. The important aspect of this slogan is the thrust on governance which is basically the act of delivering services to the citizens and reducing the overheads of the government.
Governance involves two major acts: Legislation and Execution. Legislation is about putting the laws, rules, and guidelines in place. Execution is all about ensuring that the laws are implemented and the citizens are provided with the services that they are entitled to. Often it is the execution that falls flat and pulls the governance promises down.
In the present world, technology plays a pivotal role in aiding governance execution processes even though governments are slow adopters. In my opinion the one technology domain that will be of immense help in any government in improving governance is ECM. It is time governments pay attention to the substantial dividends ECM can bring to governance. The top challenges facing optimal execution are:
1. Governments are the biggest document generators and consumers. Every government activity revolves around documents. Be it citizen services, policy formations or inter-departmental communications documents are produced in abundance.
2. Like any other organization out there in the world, the majority of governmental data is in unstructured form.
3. Governments operate at a very high scale. So unless the right information is accessible at the right time, governments cannot be responsive to the continuous demands.
4. Lack of accountability at various levels within the governments is a major factor for poor governance.
5. Monitoring and control are not always the best.
6. Processes within governmental departments are mostly ad-hoc.
7. The variety of services rendered by a government department is very high and often two citizens will not be requiring the exact same service from the same government entity.
To improve governance governments should focus on improving the execution efficiency and effectiveness. By utilizing the power of ECM, governments will be able to:
1. Eliminate paper based processing. While paper may not be eliminated fully, governments can do great by reducing paper-based-processing. Documents can be digitized at source and be allowed to flow electronically.
2. Introduce case management technologies. Since government processes in general are ad-hoc in nature and may require knowledge workers applying discretion in the decision process. It is thus imperative that such users be armed with all required information. Information should be available for knowledge workers when they need it and this can be effectively managed by introducing case management concepts.
3. Introduce SLAs. Often governments find it difficult to enforce SLAs on services rendered. Case management systems provide ways in which SLAs can be defined and monitored within processes. This will enforce accountability among the government workers.
4. Monitor progress. The key aspect of good governance is monitoring of the programs and initiatives. Real-time monitoring will be a good tool for the higher level officials to monitor the operations at various aggregation levels.
5. Reduce corruption. Corruption creeps in when accountability and monitoring reduces. Case management solutions allow for auditing and tracking every of activity happening in the system in real-time.
ECM and Case Management solutions will ensure governance improvements from an execution perspective. These solutions coupled with citizen facing interfaces such as portals and mobile front-ends will effectively pave ways for maximum governance.