Podcast 🎧: Assessing digital maturity for effective e-government roadmaps

30.09.2020 | Federico Plantera

Where do we come from? Where do we stand? And where to go from here?

Though the feeling might be that of a high-school psychology blog, there is no existentialism in these questions – at least in the current case. In order to formulate with efficacy digital transformation roadmaps for governments, policy makers must first take stock of the digital maturity of their own institutional environment.

Linnar Viik, Programme Director of Smart Governance, presents here e-Governance Academy’s government digital maturity assessment. As a stepping stone towards conscious e-governance development, the analysis works as a tool to identify bottlenecks and opportunities in moving towards a digital process management.

 

 

Definition – what is a ‘digital government’

It is only reasonable to start from the basics – what is a digital government? As Viik explains, it is “a way of organizing government and the public administration utilizing digital tools”. However, this is not restricted to their internal management. The application of digital means should be deployed to all fields of society, particularly by means of services.

The purpose is to make everyone benefit from such approach – citizens, businesses, players in industrial production and trade. Ultimately, developing a digital government comes down to facilitating the relations of all these actors with the public administration.

In this sense, we observe how a related term, digital transformation, is often used as a misguided buzzword by decision makers. Too often the focus lies merely on ICT implementation, predominantly carrying out projects of digitization (and not digitalization). “But without soft skills and changes in intra-organization and customer relations, you don’t unlock the full power of digital transformation,” Viik warns.

Also, governments are not in this alone. More and more institutions are building clusters with the private sector. This only makes sense in a framework where the use of digital tools can have an overarching impact on the society as a whole, achieving new highs in productivity and efficiency across all sectors of society and the economy.

 

A walk-through of government digital maturity assessment

Once outlined a shared understanding of what digital government means, e-Governance Academy’s digital maturity assessment presents itself “as a tool to understand where we stand, and where we head towards. It helps to identify bottlenecks and opportunities in digitalization,” Viik says.

The starting point of the process, as in many other instances, is vision and leadership. Then, after adopting a strategic view on the targets to reach, policy makers and operators can move on to boots-on-the-ground, actionable steps. Six elements help shape the goals and activities of digitalization ventures:

  • A focus on value and users, especially their needs
  • The presence or absence of a strategic framework
  • How well-equipped with technology and infrastructure institutions already are
  • Technological opportunities to seize
  • Reshaping internal processes and operations
  • Organizational culture and skills

“The digital maturity assessment is conducted on the basis of 11 concrete dimensions aimed to measure the ability of the public sector to deliver through the use of digital means. Political will might be already there, and it often is. But beyond intentions, the next steps require policy makers to look into the fitness of regulatory environments, financial models to support the change, necessary infrastructure, and the state of digital data generation,” Viik explains.

When making our assessment, we also look at whether processes are built in siloes, with citizens forced to go from one office to another to obtain documents or information, and if cross-agency interoperability is in place and functioning.

Enabling governments to take a digital leap

Lastly, once priority areas for intervention and bottlenecks are detected, the moment of roadmap development comes. What’s the difference with a simple white paper? That our roadmaps include measurable performance indicators, tailored on the government at hand, enabling institutions to act immediately – for those developments that don’t require a change in legislation, for example.

e-Governance Academy has already streamlined this process to a large extent. “From contract signing to obtaining the assessment results, it takes just about one month. The COVID-19 pandemic might have slowed down this process a little, but we adjusted to the situation. A side-advantage is certainly the increased online availability though, as well as the enhanced desktop research focus. And we see the results are equally valuable for governments,” Viik concludes.

Assessing your government’s digital maturity is essential to take conscious, informed decision. To drive the change, political will is necessary, but only a thorough knowledge of the present conditions – in relations to the goals to achieve – can truly kickstart your digital transformation.