December 17, 2009

NDL have produced their latest (sixth) report on ‘Integration and CRM Systems’. As one would expect from a commercial organization they require  you to register by email with them at info (at) ndl.co.uk in order to receive it but it does reinforce my own academic work and they have managed to cover over 50% of local authorities, getting them to complete it over the ‘phone.

In summary it states:

P.2., talking about eforms and CRM – “our research has shown that both of these technologies have been applied as a veneer, masking continuing areas of inefficiency from public view.”

P.3., discussing NI14 – “very little activity is taking place based on this data, with most authorities still ‘collating’ or ‘analysing’ their data sets.”

P.10., examining integration of back office applications – vast majority have only integrated between one and five applications with their CRM.

P.10., very few have CRM’s transacting directly with back office.

P.11., over half of authorities are only partly complying with NI14.

P.13., “we draw the conclusion that many of the smaller District councils see middleware as an expensive and largely non-essential overhead that is impossible to justify.” Which I quite agree with!

P.14., with regard to Government Connect – 46% are firmly convinced that it will never shown any value!

As to the last (Government Connect), from this IT Manager’s perspective, using it continues to be a slow and agonising process, as technical issues still arise, although some process improvements in Benefits are showing. However, there are still a limited number of government departments playing the game, although they’ve been told to exploit it. If they all got on board more quickly it would really demonstrate some value!

Citizen Issues

November 8, 2009

Having twelve suppliers on Company table V7, dated 25 October 2009, I thought I was just about covered. The list provides a list of applications and their suppliers who provide solutions to measuring citizen satisfaction or even the UK government National Indicator 14 on ‘avoidable contact’.

I have now, by accident, found another approach in the USA entitled ‘Citizen Issues’, which is incidentally free, unless a municipality wants the ‘premium’ edition. The system is provided by CCD Health Systems, which supplies applications for handling root cause analysis and web-based incident reporting.

I’m not sure that it’s much different from some of the UK examples such as Fixmystreet and CommunityFix , but it was their focus on root cause analysis that brought me to them. I find root cause analysis a potentially useful approach to getting the best out of services when collating feedback.

So, I now have Company table V8.

USA Government Web Sites

September 27, 2009

The latest comScore review of US government web sites sees some interesting changes in usage.

From my particular point of view I’m also interested in their employment of user satisfaction as a metric. One quotation that caught my attention is that “On January 21, 2009, President Obama issued a directive stating that ‘Executive departments and agencies should harness new technologies to put information about their operations and decisions online and readily available to the public.’” I highlight the fact that “information” is required, not the seemingly obligatory “transactions”.

Perhaps the US has wised up to the Canadian observation that what citizens want is information prior to considering any transaction, and that transaction may be carried out across multiple channels in the end?

Incidentally I’ve updated my table with the latest CMetrix product, so am now at Company table V6.

Another survey

September 23, 2009

The Oxford Internet Institute have released the report of their latest survey, The Internet in Britain, which contains a comparative analysis of results from 2009 with the years 2005 and 2007.

One of the quotes from Helen Margetts (p.26) contains the statement: “Information seeking remains the most common e-government activity, similar to the way e-commerce developed (although slower). However, the frequency of online transactions such as paying for government services, taxes, fines and licenses has started to increase.” So information, not transaction remains the killer application.

Interestingly, local services remain more popular than central government ones, whether policy or politicians, although all see a small but steady increase.

However, an added reminder came from Gerry McGovern in his latest e-broadcast , when he stated: “The purpose of marketing and advertising used to be to get customers to do the things you wanted them to do. The purpose of web marketing and advertising is different. It starts off by accepting that the customer is on the Web to do something. It then focuses on helping that customer become more successful in doing that thing, not getting the customer to do something else.”

In the case of government, what we need to remember is that primarily we should be using the web to help citizens, not to help ourselves!

Interim Survey Results 2009

August 9, 2009

What’s been happening in NI14 land?

I’d been looking at and considering the replies to this year’s survey but having only had 31 responses I wasn’t rushing to do the data analysis. However, Public Sector Forums did another encouraging post about the survey and despite it having little effect I started examining the data.

It’s a bit of a pain for those getting the RSS feed but rather than spend ages transfering a MS Word document into WordPress with the inevitable cutting and hacking at the HTML I decided to cheat and put it as a PDF!

I had a couple of surprises from the results but you’ll just have to look at the Great Emancipator Survey 2009 Interim Report

For greater comparison, it may help looking at last years at the same time?

Consuming ourselves

August 2, 2009

In considering the citizen versus consumer debate I was reading the latest entry in the online journal of the McKinsey consultancy, “The consumer decision journey“.

Initially, reading about how traditional marketing people had considered the touch points of influencing sales and from this developed the metaphor of a “funnel” seemed a mile away from electronic or any other government but of course this is not the case. Politicians are elected for good or evil, after wanting power for some reason of their own. How do they get elected but by convincing enough people that they can do the best job of running that part of government compared with their running mates.

How then might the “consumer decision journey” operate in a political context? In an ideal world, we would all have the government we deserved, and that government would be excellent. It would cost the minimum, do the most against the majority of citizens’ ideals and not get caught with its hands in the till. In the real world we have two or three parties battling against each other as to who tells the more truths, best balances budgets and gets the most bangs for bucks. How they make the citizens aware of this is that initial part of the journey, they have to have “good press” and lots of it, especially around election time.

How does this relate to electronic government? Well, it doesn’t unless the implementation of it had managed to save money or vastly improve services, which it hasn’t! It primarily relates to how multi-channel service delivery can be made to provide adequate and ethical service for the vast majority of those involved whether tax payers or service recipients. If we consider a job well done the politicians might survive, if not, shall we try somone else who offers a different approach and promises.

Of course, life isn’t that simple and between the citizen and the elected sit those whose job it is to actually deliver the service. The civil service, bureaucracy or local authority officers need to be convinced of the value of change by both or either partyto ensure a successful implementation.

So, how many funnels and which goes into which, and where?


If you are interested and, preferably, in UK local government please complete the survey, it doesn’t take long at all. I’ll keep feeding back through these pages, which are also covered by localgov.co.uk and PSF.


Watmore’s wisdom

June 21, 2009

Reading Computer Weekly informed me there might be something tasty in the evidence given by Ian Watmore, former government CIO and more recently of the DIUS but shortly to be Chief Executive of the Football Association. I couldn’t find a transcript by my own efforts but got a link from Rage on Omnipotent!

The uncorrected transcript of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee of 20 May 2009 includes such gems from Mr Watmore as:

“people from the private sector – myself included – are always surprised at how difficult the business problems are that we are trying to solve.” Q10

“one of the challenges that we have always had is that people sit too often in Whitehall and do not get out to the front line enough and do not see the consequences of things that look good on a bit of paper in Whitehall but are not actually translating properly in the front line.” Q11

“I think there is a genuine problem of too many initiatives.” Q16

What a guy!


If you are interested and, preferably, in UK local government please complete the survey, it doesn’t take long at all. I’ll keep feeding back through these pages, which are also covered by localgov.co.uk and PSF.