Office of Strategy Management (OSM)
Yesser, Strategy & Planning
Saudi Arabia

The Problem

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) launched the e-government program in 2005 to start the modernization and transformation of government administration, and enhance service delivery for all members of the public and increase access for all who historically were challenged in obtaining adequate public services. The e-government program “Yesser” developed a National e-government Strategy and First Action Plan covering the period 2006 to 2010.

In the foundation years, basic infrastructure and agency support models were developed, but, as the implementation process grew, monitoring of strategy implementation and inclusion needs became a challenge for ultimately achieving the goal of agency service improvements. This was largely due to the difficulty of building competencies utilizing the massive Saudi specific knowledge being amassed during these first years of introducing e-government potential through knowledge transfer of the goals, values and processes available to government leaders and implementers.

Nowhere was the need more apparent to organize the knowledge obtained during the first 5 years of Saudi Government public services improvement strategy than when a Second 5 year action plan was developed. At an accelerated speed many central issues came to forefront as the lessons turned into knowledge as the second five-year strategy and action plan was devised.

Using extensive stakeholder inputs to develop the plan, sophisticated issues, challenges, and knowledge emerged to build a sophisticated public services improvement plan.

The plan now is a compendium of detailed initiatives addressing a host of new concepts that advance the principles of better public services. The advancement of the plan not only contains action items but many important features of what “e-government is” and requires broad dissemination and input by those responsible for implementation—not only for accountability—but for better comprehension of how e-government improves multiple facets of government service. Managing this critical Saudi knowledge transfer in workshops to extend e-government purpose, vision, action lessons and progress across 240 agencies became a serious challenge for Yesser leaders.

The problem of communicating, providing visibility of details, analysis, recommendations and acts as a single source of dynamic progress for agencies to call on and utilize as a pillar of knowledge Having into account the experiences gathered during the execution of the First Action Plan, the main challenges and fundamental critical success factors of this new Second Action Plan are:

• Achieve the awareness, commitment, involvement and participation of more than 200 Government Agencies, while linking and coordinating this plan with the National ICT Plan and other simultaneous KSA National Strategies.
• Manage the changing of people, culture and public administration, than simply implementing technology solutions.
• Align all stakeholders in the execution of the components of the Second Action Plan, with a high level of complexity, including one statement of national Vision, 5 Values, 4 Strategic Themes, 23 Strategic Objectives, and 46 Strategic Initiatives distributed into 6 Workstreams.
• Increase the speed of implementation, while changing the service maturity level, from Informational to Transformational services.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
Knowing that even the most compelling strategy is useless if it is not implemented, The Office of Strategy Management (OSM) initiative was launched, forming an integral part of the Second Action Plan, in order to: Address the challenges and critical success factors mentioned above; Improve e-government understanding, strategy formulation and implementation; Embed a best practice advancing knowledge management in KSA with practical outcomes; and manage the implementation of the Second Action Plan at the macro- (government-wide) and micro- (individual agency) level.

The OSM concept that was first proposed by Robert Kaplan and David Norton, has become a worldwide recognized best practice. This solution concept has been used as the basis for the customized development of KSA e-government OSM operating model.
The key principles that were applied to the design and operation of the KSA e-government OSM are:
• Open communication with heads of government agencies.
• Participation of government agencies in the monitoring of progress.
• Take a whole-of-government perspective - across agency boundaries.
The Office of Strategy Management (OSM) which was established within Yesser, has the primary focus to track and report progress against the National e-Government Strategy and Second Action Plan . The OSM will operate within a governance and agency relationship framework that emphasizes the importance of working across agencies, and sharing experiences. The desired outcome of the OSM initiative is bridging the gap between the e-Government strategy formulation and its implementation.
The operations of the OSM also provides the opportunity for Yesser to establish a knowledgebase (knowledge database) of e-Government strategy development and strategy management. This knowledgebase will in time become a valuable resource for the Kingdom to tap into for managing the constant evolution of e-government.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
The initiative was proposed by Yesser’s Strategy & Planning Unit who also researched and created the foundation for a unique and innovative way for eGovernment advancement to take place.

Valuable contributions, reviews and approvals were received from KSA Government Agencies, the KSA e-Government Supreme Supervisory Committee, KSA e-Government Program Steering Committee, and KSA e-Government Program Advisory Group.

Consultancy services were contracted to assist on the methodologies and best practices available, and to support the OSM implementation.

The main stakeholders of this Initiative are: KSA society at large, businesses, OSM, e-Government Management Team, Supreme Supervisory Committee, e-government Program Steering Committee, Advisory Group, Government Agencies.

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
The main objectives of the OSM, established by the e-Government Second National Action Plan, and developed by Yesser in close consultation with all KSA government agencies, include the following:
• Maintain a sustainable implementation of the Second National e-government Action Plan (2011-2015) through regular Strategic Review Meetings, facilitating decision-making at such review meetings, performing follow-up activities on decisions and action items taken at these review meetings.
• Develop and monitor measures and targets for assessing progress of the strategic objectives.
• Assess the impact of initiatives on Strategic Objectives and oversee the integration and alignment of workstreams/initiatives within Second Action Plan.
• Track advancements on the implementation of workstreams and individual initiatives against planned milestones and budgets.
• Assess the alignment of e-government strategies prepared by agencies with the National Vision and Second Action Plan and provide advice and guidance when and where required.
• Report progress to the e-government Steering Group and other government bodies, on a quarterly basis.
• Maintain the risk register for the Second Action Plan and develop risk mitigation plans.
• Maintain close integration and alignment with the National ICT Plan and other sectoral strategies.
• Increase communication and collaboration across government agencies.
• Build a community of e-government champions from across government agencies, learning from each other about successful e-government implementations, enhancing organizational performance.
• Create and manage a knowledgebase on e-government best practices that in time will become the single authority and resource for the Kingdom’s continuous e-government evolution and contributing to the development of the body of knowledge on e-government for the whole of the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region.
• Assure dissemination and transparency of knowledge

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
The key development and implementation chronological steps:
• Evaluating and adopting strategy an execution best practice: Different alternatives frameworks for managing the execution of strategies were analyzed and evaluated. The following strategy execution model was selected as a best practice: “Execution Premium”, from Drs. David Norton and Robert Kaplan.
• OSM Roles & Responsibilities definition: Customizing the OSM theoretical model to the reality and constrains of KSA government public sector. Definition of: OSM roles, responsibilities, management processes, governance model (reporting lines and interfaces with other departments), governance calendar, tools, and other human resources (kind of people, number, competences, structure, functions). Detailed KSA e-Government Strategic Management Processes workflow.
• Staffing engagement: Selecting and on-boarding defined staff, with the appropriate skills, fully functional into the OSM structure.
• Development of a Strategy Map: the strategy contained into the Second Action Plan was translated into a single page Strategy Map. This map includes four Strategic Perspectives (Learning & Growth, Business Processes, Customer Service and Value Management), four Strategic Themes (Sustainable e-government Workforce, Government Efficiency, Public Interaction Experience, Collaboration & Innovation), a Customer Value Proposition with differentiating attributes, and 22 prioritized Strategic Objectives.
• Alignment of the Initiatives: the relationship among the prioritized 46 Strategic Initiatives and the 22 Strategic Objectives were analyzed and the “strategic impact” clarified.
• Development of Measures and Targets: 33 Strategic Measures (KPI´s) to track the performance of the Strategic Objectives were selected, detailed and documented. Quantitative Targets for each Strategic Measure were set for the period 2011-2015.
• Ownership Nomination: primary responsibility to coordinate efforts for achieving the different strategy components (Objectives, Themes, Worstreams and Initiatives) were distributed among Agencies Executive Management Team Leaders.
• OSM Communication Plan definition: a communication plan was designed aiming to: align the organization to a shared vision and common direction, foster understanding of the e-government strategy throughout the organization, allow individuals understand how they can help to implement the organization’s strategy, provide ongoing feedback about the progress of executing the strategy, enhanced self-motivation to achieve strategic objectives, create awareness of OSM process, roles & responsibilities among e-government leadership, develop buy-in so that Agencies and employees participate and support the OSM processes and the execution of e-government strategy.
• Software acquisition, implementation, and training: Implementation (evaluation, purchasing, customization, data loading, training and support) of a state-of-the art software aligned with Execution Premium. This is an on-line web-based solution that allows to document and report about the strategy evolution on a continuous basis.
• Strategic Review Meeting facilitation: a quarterly meeting governance calendar was established with the aim to: review detailing and performance of Strategic Objectives against Measures and Targets and Strategic Initiatives against Milestones and Budgets at the end of each quarter. Two Strategic Review Meetings have been facilitated, with decisions recorded (actions, responsibles and due dates).
• Design and implement Risk Mitigation plan: Main Strategic Risks were identified and ranked. Mitigation actions were designed and responsibles assigned.
• OSM Continuous Operation: Assuring that the new practice is embedded into the e-Government organization.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
The main obstacles encountered for the implementation of the Office of Strategy Manager (OSM) have been:
• Lack of Organization knowledge of strategy execution best practices: This was addressed by an intense process of research and evaluation of different best practice alternatives, and internal management team discussions to arrive at a consensus about the conceptual OSM framework to be implemented and how to customize it to the organization culture.
• Lack of OSM knowledge: training events to executive leaders across agencies were organized and delivered to educate them about new OSM concepts, terminology, roles and processes.
• Ineffective communication and promotion: a specific communication plan for the OSM was designed and delivered across government agencies to foster the adoption of the new ideas and methods, improve coordination and co-operation between agencies, and a balanced distribution of roles and efforts.
• Delays in securing people with the right skills: HR policies had to be adjusted to attract, onboard and retain human capital. Current internal employees assigned to the OSM office had to be trained.
• Resistant to abandon the functional silo-based decision taking: the introduction of OSM concept as a strategy execution “facilitator”, was resisted by the organization leaders accustomed to taking decision within their exclusive functional domain, without any external interference that affect their autonomy and authority. To address this issue, cross functional responsibilities for executing strategic initiatives that cross unit and functional lines were assigned among leaders, to foster strategic dialogue and assume a collective responsibility on strategy performance.
• Resistance to transparent performance-based assessment: an intense change management process was put in place, to make leaders understand that executing a strategy is a “learning process” and to encourage them to take decisions and to use measures and targets as an opportunity to improve performance rather than an instrument to “point fingers” at people.
• Lack of data for performing measures: new measures had to be developed, and the data collection process across government agencies established.
• Lack of Strategy reviews formal process: a governance calendar was established to formalize the continuous discussion of strategic issues and reformulating strategy, assuring decisions being made and action items being documented and tracked.
• Loose linkage between budgets and strategy: an Investment tracking process was developed, to compare real investment against strategic budgets.

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
• Financial resources:

Total financial costs for this initiative have been estimated in 31.88 million SAR´s, for the period 2011-2015. This figure includes:

o IT capital and operating cost of 6.38 million SAR´s, calculated assuming a new equipment and software is needed for OSM office venue.
o Additional staffing needed for the operation of OSM, calculated in 18.75 million SAR´s.
o A contract for consultancy support work and other services, estimated in 6.75 million SAR´s.

• Technical resources:

After analyzing the best systems solutions available in the market, a state-of- the- art software was purchased, installed, customized, documented and training provided. The selected application, Executive Strategy Manager designed by Palladium company, contains embedded Kaplan/Norton’s Execution Premium methodology, and will help Yesser effectively build, manage, and report on their strategy.

• Human resources: Additional staffing needed for the operation of Office of Strategy Management was estimated in 10 people, as follows:
o OSM Director: 1 person
o BSC Performance Manager: 1 person
o Change Manager: 1 person
o Data Management Analyst: 1 person
o Initiative Senior Advisors: 4 persons
o Coordinators: 2 persons

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
The Office of Strategy Management has been conceived as a strategic initiative, whose purpose is to embed an internationally recognized best practice to transform and enhance the strategy management performance of the e-Government virtual organization.
Being this is a practice new to the organization, it is considered more a change management project than a technological one, that will have an enormous positive impact in the current strategy management process. Change management also requires training and a shift in culture to share knowledge and reward those who contribute and fully participate in the dissemination of knowledge through the OSM practices.
Being that so, and to make this initiative sustainable, not only it has been provided with the right set of financial and human resources, but with high level of visibility within the organizational structure, since the OSM depends directly from Yesser General Director.
Since Yesser has the facilitating role of helping KSA Government agencies deliver effective eServices, one way to achieve that mission is to also transfer management best practices. That is why, once Offices of Strategy Management reaches the appropriate level of maturity within Yesser, it is planned to be transferred to other Government agencies to improve their own strategy management.
The cascading process will begin once Yesser has well moved up into his own learning curve.
In order to profit from each other experience developing the OSM, a collaboration community of best practice is going to be put in place, with the participation of all government agencies that adopt this management new concept. This Community of Practice will use the OSM knowledgebase as a repository and a tool to build and utilize the body of knowledge for strategizing and managing e-government in the Kingdom and in the spirit of regional cooperation share it with the Kingdom’s neighbors in the MENA region.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
The implementation of the Office of Strategy Management Initiative, will result in the following key benefits:

• Facilitating knowledge based consensus of the team on how to implement e-Government strategy, fostering a continuous strategic dialogue among all stakeholders. The Strategy Monitoring and Management software employed by OSM captures and analyzes information that are results of progress made in implementing initiatives and projects detailed in the strategy documents. Inputs to the system are constantly fed by initiative owners to ensure the information contained are kept up-to-date, thus providing the means to implement a decision support process that is augmented by technology.
• Keeping an updated strategy map to understand how each activity impacts the strategy through the logical relationships of cause and effect. Having a tool that describes the strategy in a single piece of paper will facilitate strategy communication and implementation.
• Ongoing strategic learning through regular strategy reviews scheduled in a governance calendar, and fostering learning and decision taking to adjust strategy as required.
• Monitoring and controlling of plans to provide oversight of the progress made by Yesser and government agencies in implementing the Second Action Plan by tracking objectives performance against key measures and targets, and Initiatives against Milestones and budgets. Measuring and reporting strategy execution results will allow necessary adjustments to be made for achieving the organization's tangible success.
• Strategic Alignment of the organization by transforming "Vision" and "Strategy" into specific operational and result objectives, prioritization and alignment of initiatives, focusing and optimizing the use of scarce resources.
• Risk Management by identifying and maintaining a risk register for the Second Action Plan, thus allowing the development of informed plans to mitigate them.
• Mobilizing change through communication and motivational plans and activities and the construction of a community of e-government champions across government agencies, learning from each other about successful e-government implementations.

A key element that made this initiative a success was the understanding from the very beginning that the OSM needed to be the nucleus for knowledge acquisition and management in e-government strategy formulation and management in particular, and the creation of a Saudi e-government knowledgebase in general.

The definition of knowledge is a matter of ongoing debate. The classical definition of knowledge as described by Plato specifies that for a statement to be accepted as knowledge it must meet three criteria: it is justified, true and believed. For the purpose of OSM knowledge is defined as something that is familiar; and this “something” include information, facts, descriptions, skills acquired through experience, lessons learned through project implementations, and information acquired from authoritative sources.

The establishment of the OSM facilitates knowledge creation through the systematic capture of results achieved by the Second Action Plan initiatives, the analysis of these results which are discussed in formal review meetings and decisions made during these meetings. These plus other information such as updated Strategy Maps, funds utilized against budget, provides the pool of knowledge and make the evolution of the Kingdom’s e-government systematic and outcome predictable.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Yesser, Strategy & Planning
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Suhail M. AlAlmaee
Title:   Director  
Telephone/ Fax:   +96614522263
Institution's / Project's Website:
Address:   Min. of CIT
Postal Code:   11112
City:   Riyadh
Country:   Saudi Arabia

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