How agility, openness and collaboration improved e-governance in UK

Apr 17, 2017

How  transforming and digitizing of public services based on best British practices can rapidly transform e-governance. This was the main focus of the workshop and round table attended  by more than 30 representatives from government agencies involved in delivery of the most demanded public services.

The four-day training course featuring Government Digital Service experts Daniel Lowe and Alex Torrance was organized by "E-Government Promotion for Improved Public Service Delivery" joint project of the Ministry for Development of Information Technologies and Communications and UNDP with support of the UK Embassy in Uzbekistan.

The training participants learned about the evolution of the British digital services, key factors contributing to the UK’s leading position in the UN E-Government global ranking. Among major success factors were creation of Government Digital Service (GDS) under the Cabinet of Ministers, adoption of an ambitious Digital Transformation Programme in 2013, which planned to transform and digitalize 25 major public services in two years.

Most of the training focused on transformation of public services using the Agile methodology, a flexible approach of project management. Agile approach enables rapid achievement of practical results in creating, testing and iteratively improving the service based on continuous user feedback. This methodology reduces the risks of inefficient use of financial and time resources in building services that do not really satisfy user needs. Today, when technology is changing so rapidly, the traditional project management approaches are less appropriate in designing and managing services. Government services should be able to respond quickly to changes in policies and user needs.

What is the agile method?

Agile method is based on the following basic principles:

·         focus on user needs

·         deliver results using an iterative approach

·         continue to improve the team work

·         fail and learn quickly

·         continue planning

In designing a service using Agile methodology, the project goes through 4 phases:

·         Discovery - finding out service users and their need, what services already exist, what to measure, and what policy, legal or other constraints are there.

·         Alpha - building a prototype, testing it with users, and learning from it.

·         Beta - scaling up and going public, at this stage the priority is to create a reliable, simple, clear and fast service.

·         Live - at this stage, a solution had been found how to meet most of the user needs and to constantly update and improve the service in real time.

User journey was the key recurring theme of the GDS training on service transformation. To provide services that meet the user needs it is important to understand who your potential users are, what they are trying to do and how they are trying to do it now. There is a need for user research in each iteration of each phase, from discovery throughout the live service; it should not be done only at the beginning or at the end.

Monitoring and evaluating service performance helps ensure that the service meets user needs, allows users to easily complete the task, is cost-effective and users prefer to use it. It is necessary to collect data that shows how the service operates in accordance with four key performance indicators (KPIs):

·         Cost per transaction - how much it costs the government each time someone completes the task your service provides

·         User satisfaction - what percentage of users are satisfied with their experience of using your service

·         Completion rate - what percentage of transactions users successfully complete

·         Digital take-up - what percentage of users choose your digital service to complete their task over non-digital channels

The four-day training was followed by a round table on "UK best practices in service transformation", attended by officials from the MITC, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Higher Education, Ministry of Public Education, Tashkent city administration, Chamber of Commerce, UNDP, ADB and UK Embassy.

Summarizing their mission, the GDS experts noted that the key success factors in building an effective e-government in the UK were support for digital reforms by the country's top leadership, adoption of agile methodology in implementing IT projects, focus on user needs in the creation of digital services, whole-of-government and platform approach to e-government architecture.