Enabling Cross-Government Responsiveness to Public Needs: Yesser Consulting Group’s Enterprise Archi
Ministry of CIT, Saudi Arabia's YESSER e-Government Program
Saudi Arabia

The Problem

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) government currently comprises 23 ministries and 470 autonomous agencies having their own independent budgets serving a population of about 28 million people. By its very nature, government must be present everywhere throughout the Kingdom. For example, an agency such as the Ministerial Agency of Civil Affairs (CA) which is responsible for keeping population records and other legal documents such as the National ID needs to have offices dispersed throughout the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. CA has branches in the 13 regions of the Kingdom and each branch as many offices. In total CA operates 92 offices serving the whole Kingdom of 28 million people.
In common with other agencies, many of CA’s services today are delivered using traditional, manual procedures and processes whereby service consumers (men, women, children, and the disabled); need to be physically present at a CA office to transact their business with government. Addressing issues like ensuring compliance with standard operating procedures, standardized information systems, monitoring and management of service levels is difficult in a manual process environment and becomes critical as population grows and service level expectations rise. Duplication of effort, assets and resources are also highly evident.
The Communications and Information Technology Commission of Saudi Arabia (CITC) reported in its 2010 Annual Report that Internet users in the Kingdom grew from 1 million in 2001 to 11.4 million at the end of 2010; a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 31%. Internet penetration grew from 5% in 2001 to 41% in 2010. At the same time mobile phone subscribers grew from 2.5 million in 2001 to 51.6 million at the end of 2010, a mobile penetration of 186%.
This ready adoption of technology and its advances, particularly the Internet and mobile technologies, coupled with good experience from online services provided by the private sector result in well-informed citizens wanting more competitive and efficient services from government. The outcome is increasing pressure to optimize and align ICT strategies and resources to support the business of government.
To meet this demand the government of Saudi Arabia established a National eGovernment Program (Yesser) that is responsible for providing the environment and services essential for the development of eGovernment projects that are executed by individual government agencies.
The National eGovernment Program aims to serve the nation by providing better government services to individuals, business and government users; thus raising the satisfaction with government services and enhancing the quality of life for all. The Program also aims to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the public sector, thus decreasing costs, increasing productivity, creating a more business-friendly government and leading to economic growth and high GDP. On a broader front the Program aims to spread information and knowledge, thereby contributing to the establishment of the Saudi information society and supporting society’s advancement.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
As part of the implementation of the Saudi National eGovernment Program, the Yesser Consulting Group (YCG), a department within Yesser, provides consultancy services to government agencies in order to help develop their eTransformation plans. For the purposes of this consultancy service an eTransformation Plan is defined as the roadmap that describes in detail the development of online eGovernment projects and initiatives to be implemented by an agency after due analysis of the current and desired future states of the agency from the perspective of public service delivery.
Generally today, many public services in KSA are delivered manually over the counter where citizens need to be physically present to transact with government. Computer systems and applications are mainly used for data processing rather than for providing online services.
Many of these manual services have been or are currently being transformed into online services. However past efforts have been confined to individual departmental or unit initiatives leading to fragmentation and the development of silos or islands of disparate information systems.
The YCG eTransformation Consulting Service provides a disciplined approach using Enterprise Architecture frameworks and principles to align ICT with the business needs of an agency. This leads to the optimum deployment of technology resources to meet the business needs of the agency as well as the needs of the agency’s service consumers.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
Yesser senior management and executives recognized at the outset that one major limiting factor that would hold back the quick implementation of the Saudi National eGovernment Program is the lack of coordinated planning and implementation for the delivery of eGovernment online services. A number of initiatives such as the deployment of taskforces, specialized teams and other methods using external consulting team resources were used but the results were less than expected. Meanwhile the need to develop optimized resources to support the business of government became increasingly critical.
Yesser decided in late 2009 to establish its own internal consulting group (subsequently called the Yesser Consulting Group—YCG) to pool the expert resources necessary to help government agencies develop their eTransformation plans. A business case paper for the establishment of YCG was promoted and accepted by the government.

(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 objective of providing YCG consulting services is to help government agencies develop comprehensive and well integrated plans for transforming their current largely manual delivery of public services into highly improved, integrated and efficient online services that are responsive to customer needs. The planning, development and deployment of integrated agency-wide information systems ensure that ICT and other resources are fully aligned with the business needs of the agency. This provides improved and equitable access to the agency’s services by end-users (citizens, businesses and other government agencies) without the constraints of time, geographic distance, or physical form—services can be accessed by citizens from anywhere, at anytime without them having to be physically present at a government office.
In order to achieve this objective, Yesser created an internal consulting department called the Yesser Consulting Group (YCG) staffed with highly knowledgeable and experienced consultants that perform consulting engagements at government agencies. YCG’s main consulting focus is the development of agency eTransformation plans using tools such as Enterprise Architecture (EA) frameworks. In order to fully optimize the development of an agency’s eTransformation plan using EA, YCG adapted the industry standard EA framework TOGAF Version 9 to fully meet the needs of the Saudi government.
A typical EA consulting team comprises a Project Manager, an Enterprise Architect and a Business Analyst. An EA consulting engagement will take between four and six months to complete depending on the size of the agency and the complexity of its business processes. The outcomes of this engagement are blueprints and reports describing the present state of the agency (the baseline Enterprise Architecture), the EA Vision describing the wish list of the agency, the desired future state (the target Enterprise Architecture), the gap analysis and the eTransformation roadmap describing the projects and initiatives such as the establishment of a governance board that needs to be implemented. Based on the roadmap, RFPs (Requests for Proposals) are drafted and published for companies to bid for the development and deployment of these projects and initiatives. YCG can also be engaged during the implementation of these projects in such capacities as Auditing or Quality Management.
In 2011 YCG successfully completed consulting engagements in 23 agencies (as of November 2011) covering a broad spectrum of agencies in healthcare, education, public administration, social services and the Saudi Industrial Development Fund.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
EA frameworks such as TOGAF V9 were developed with the private sector in mind and generally needed some modifications before they could be fitted into a public sector context. During its first year of operations YCG customized its EA Framework based on TOGAF V9 to fit the requirements of the Saudi Government environment.
The customized EA framework called Y-ELAF (Yesser Enterprise Level Architecture Framework) was successfully tested in a couple of consultancy engagements before it was generally accepted as the tool that YCG would use in EA development work.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
The use of EA frameworks for aligning ICT and other resources such as human capital with business needs is a new concept. Thus the understanding of key EA processes and desired outcomes need to be clearly articulated before a breakthrough can be achieved.
Most people also prefer to stay in their comfort zones and are generally suspicious of changes taking place unless they are engaged during the planning phases.
Most of these obstacles are overcome through strategic conversations such as holding stakeholder workshops, group dialogue sessions and one-on-one conversations with key stakeholders.

(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
The key resource and major asset of the initiative are the consultants and experts making up the staff of YCG as well as the approved framework that standardizes work across government agencies. As a result, no significant capital expenditure is needed to be allocated to establish the department.
An EA development team typically comprises a Project Manager, an Enterprise Architect, and a Business Analyst. The team deployment process is initiated when an agency requests for EA development assistance through the appropriate channels. The request is validated and if it meets the qualification criteria, the EA development team is deployed to perform the EA development consulting engagement. The client agency is fully engaged throughout the project and deliverables of the engagement are reviewed and discussed with the client as and when these deliverables are completed. Thus the client agency team members are always engaged and the methodology of performing an EA development shared with and ultimately owned by them.
This process and the establishment of an EA Governance Board in the agency ensure that the use of formal planning processes defined in the EA framework is sustained and continually improved.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
A request for any YCG engagement is accepted when a counterpart team from the receiving government agency is allocated to work closely with the YCG team in order to ensure knowledge transfer and sustainability of resulting initiatives. Furthermore, amongst the recommendations in the eTransformation roadmap (one of the deliverables in the EA development consulting engagement) is the establishment of an EA Governance Board in the agency. The major function of the board is to ensure that the agency’s EA is maintained through regular reviews and updates. This will ensure that the EA developed for the agency is kept alive and the discipline of using EA frameworks for strategic planning in the agency is transferred from YCG and sustained in the agency.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
Many government agencies are eager to adopt eTransformation but lack the know-how. Agencies accept using disciplined and formal approaches to planning once concrete results are demonstrated. Thus it is vitally important that projects selected for early implementation in the eTransformation roadmap demonstrate significant service delivery improvements, early customer acceptance, and completed in an acceptable timeframe. Having said that, it is also important not to go for easy projects (or so-called low hanging fruits) as these generally do not demonstrate significant improvements enterprise-wide over the original service delivery; or go cherry picking—selecting only the best projects. The early projects need to be a good mix so that significant lessons can be learned from their implementation and tangible results can be felt by consumers.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Ministry of CIT, Saudi Arabia's YESSER e-Government Program
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Hasan Hourani
Title:   Eng.  
Telephone/ Fax:   + 96614522295 /+ 96614522353
Institution's / Project's Website:   www.yesser.gov.sa
E-mail:   hhourani@yesser.gov.sa  
Address:   Riyadh KSA
Postal Code:   11112
City:   Riyadh
State/Province:   Central Province
Country:   Saudi Arabia

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