Archive for the ‘Cross-boundary collaboration’ Category

Options for Government N-1-1 non-emergency public service solutions / Behördenrufnummer 115

Dienstag, Dezember 11th, 2007

The move to establish an easy to remember number (311) for non-emergency government services has lately gained attention around the globe. There are now initiatives underway in Germany (D115) and the UK (101). After 10 years, more and more counties and cities decide to start 311 projects. Yet 311 is far from being available for the whole population in the U.S. if we consider an earlier post of mine (map of U.S./Canadian 311 service center projects). In order to discuss the alternative or future options of 311 I will first take a look at the general options a government can follow to establish the phone as public service delivery channel. Part I will present the five options. The combination of performance management and service centers is mostly excluded to reduce complexity. The models are based on a country with a federal government structure. Part II which will be added in a couple of days will discuss the future of 311 and issues such as performance management.

The central approach
At first glance it is probably the easiest way to set up a central service center for any government. This can be a single, big service center or a number of service centers which are virtually connected. In Figure 1 below a service-center that covers more than one level of government (either of the same level e.g. several cities or several cities and a county) is called “Regional Service Center”. The core aspect of this concept is the central character: Governance, finance (e.g. federal budget) and data bases. While centrality makes many things like setting standards or reducing redundancies easy, data bases are the central challenge of this approach. Not the technology but rather the content. Just gathering and maintaining the data from all levels of governments sounds like a goal that is either unrealistic (if we consider the principle of subsidiarity in a federal state which is many times protected by the constitution) or never ending. Moreover, if we think of the way 311 is used as a tool for performance management and tapping into the local knowledge of citizens there is challenge on how this data gets redistributed to the right sources.


Figure 1: The Central Approach

The 311 approach
I am not going into much detail here. An advantage of 311 is that it avoids the political battles of a central approach or the move to start with a multi-jurisdictional approach. Figure 2 shows the current situation in the U.S. We have mostly 311 centers on the local level. They may have information on higher jurisdictions in their data bases but they are generally not fully integrated in the service value chain. A few Regional Service Centers can be found already. For example, Miami-Dade County has integrated the City of Miami. 34 cities have not been integrated yet. The challenge of administrators in Miami-Dade derives from budget constraints (property tax issue) or the regulatory environment. An additional challenge is to come up with finance and service level agreements that result in benefits for both sides and a sustainable service to the citizens. As one administrators once pointed out to me: “Setting up the call center and data base is easy. Changing the integrated administrations (departments) and preparing them for the change in citizens’ expectation is the real challenge”. Finally, Figure 2 also points to two further issues of this approach. First, 311 results in a lot of isolated and many times redundant relationships (either data or other form of agreements). Second, it is difficult to realize country wide accessibility. Less populated areas, therefore, the municipalities will lack the financial and HR capacity to realize 311 on their own.


Figure 2: The 311 Approach

The Central/311 Hybrid approach
This model (Figure 3) is generally a combination of the central and the 311 approach. Certain information and services that are provided by higher jurisdictions (here: State/Federal) are managed and available from a central unit/access point. This avoids some of the redundancies of the 311 approach. Regional and local service centers may develop at different speeds and provide varying degrees of services. Therefore, political battles are less likely to come up as would be the case in the central model. Service centers are not exchanging their local data or services with other service centers.


Figure 3: The Central/311 Hybrid Approach

The Networked Approach
The networked approach generally builds on most of the components described in the 311 model. The core difference is that all of the service centers build a network. Information is shared widely while each service center integrates government entities based on its needs or plans. Figure 4 shows the complexity of the network and the probability of creating highly redundant activities and relationships. In order for the network to function all members need to establish some form of governance to solve issues of standards and coordination.


Figure 4: The Networked Approach

The Multi-centric Approach
The Multi-centric approach combines aspects of the central, 311 and network approach. It characteristics of a central approach because there are central units/db which provide information/services/coordination for a certain subset of service-centers within one “center”. The service centers can evolve at different speeds and service-depths. They can be local or regional service centers. Therefore, the multi-centric approach starts like the current 311 activities. However, there is a core difference. Within one “center” the service centers are supposed to coordinate their efforts. In addition, there is a central unit (see top left of Figure 5) which coordinates and supports (e.g. good practice sharing, etc.) the overall efforts of all the “centers” and the service centers. Finally, the multi-centric approach also adopts the idea of the network approach. Each center shares information/services with other centers.


Figure 5: The Multi-centric Network Approach

The multi-centric model is currently the favored approach for the introduction of the project “D115 Behördentelefon / Behördeneinheitliche Rufnummer” in Germany.

Government CRM - Citizen Relationship Management

Donnerstag, Dezember 6th, 2007

While CRM has been researched and applied in private enterprises for years, it has only recently gained attention as a concept for government. Concurrent with the emergence of eGovernment and the general tendency of transferring more and more business concepts into the government domain, articles and studies started to address the topic. Many articles on eGovernment briefly address CRM when referring to aspects such as one-stop government or a multi-channel environment directly or indirectly. Besides CRM, authors introduce slightly altered terms like Citizen Relationship Management (CiRM), Constituent Relationship Management (CRM), Public Relationship Management (PRM) or Citizen Encounter and Relationship Management (CERM) to underline its government orientation and application.

Private sector CRM literature is highly fragmented and lacks a common conceptualization (Zablah/Bellenger/Johnston 2004). It is, therefore, somewhat unsurprising to find the same characteristics in its application to government. Truly sarcastic oberserves might say “garbage in, garbage out”. The literature on CiRM currently lacks a common definition, conceptualization and set of goals. I define Citizen Relationship Management (CiRM) as,

a strategy and set of management practices, enabled by technology with a broad citizen focus, to maintain and optimize relationships and encourage new forms of citizen participation.

Most articles on CiRM review private sector CRM, technological aspects (CRM systems) and expected benefits in government. There is a general agreement that many aspects of CRM are not sector-specific. However, they need to be translated into the context of each sector. Customer segmentation can serve administrators to identify those needing help or who are about to do so. Customer retention strategies can be directed at preventing citizen’s from using a service again. Yet, the termination of unprofitable customers, data mining, broadening the service range and thus choice, the issue of externalities or conceptualizing the citizen as customer are believed to be harder to transfer to government.

Another issue is that term CiRM is applied to describe any citizen-focused initiative or interaction. For instance, public service provision through an online portals are presented as successful CiRM projects. Administrators struggle with the lack of knowledge on CRM, in addition to their discomfort with CRM terminology. Public administrations, which claim to engage in CiRM, connect it to single customer service initiatives, online portals, electronic case management, call centers, physical one-stop service centers and CRM software. However, the literature offers little to no insights into organizational, cultural or process related changes in CiRM initiatives in terms of a holistic understanding of CRM.

King (2007) analyzed the results of the British CRM Pathfinder program (2001-02) and the CRM National Programme (2003-04). The majority of CRM projects focussed on adding CRM capabilities to call centers and one-stop shops. Participating municipalities can be in different stages of a proposed CRM development path which do not build upon each other. Therefore, a contact center and multi-channel environment may be realized without the changes towards a customer centric organization. In addition, there was little evidence for citizen analytics (segmentation, needs analysis), organizational changes (bridging departmental silos) or true multi-channel access. Janssen and Wagenaar (2002) found similar results and concluded that Dutch CiRM efforts are in an “embryonic stage”. Along these lines, in their survey of the status quo of CRM in German public administration, Bauer, Grether and Richter (2002) reported that the CRM elements implemented are far from meeting the holistic concept of CRM. Per-sonalization and a closer analysis of commonly used public services are frequent practices, while segmentation or profitability analyses remain untested concepts. Among the biggest barri-ers to exploring CRM, German administrations mention their lack of human resources and time constraints. In the United States, CiRM is mostly connected to 311 non-emergency number call center initiatives and innovations such as the performance management concept CITISTAT.

Based on some of these facts, I strongly recommend making sure to come up with a clear definition and concept of CiRM before communicating it throughout the organization and attempting an implementation.CiRM is more than a contact center and it is also different to eGovernment although both can certainly enrich each other.

Cross boundary collaboration and eGovernment: PNG Working Paper

Samstag, Februar 10th, 2007

Administrative and political leadership need to use their growing understanding of
eGovernment to come up with strategies that help them crossing the boundary between organizatonal units for better collaboration and coordination. My PNG working paper “Crossing the boundary - Why putting the e in Government is the easy part” reviews the current status of eGovernment projects and research from around the globe and offers additional insights in how to overcome these challenges.


Figure: Modified Gartner eGovernment Hype Cycle