A proven formula for Transformation & acceleration of improved services
Yesser – Government of Saudi Arabia, Ministry of CIT, Yesser - e-Government Program
Saudi Arabia

The Problem

Prior to 2007, the governmental agencies in Saudi Arabia were providing their services in a primitive manner to their customers (citizens, expats, visitors, other government agencies and private sector organization). There were no rules or regulations or measurement done on national base to govern the way of providing these services. The customers were getting most of these services difficulty and were not satisfied about the performance of those agencies. There are more than 160 agencies providing more that 1500 services to customers around the kingdom but at the same time the customer should wait for long time to get served (sometimes it takes many weeks or months) in a paper work environment. In some cases, the customer should travel from region to region in order to get served from headquarters. The way of providing these services was very poor in most of the cases, the people at the government agencies were not trained well, the leadership support was weak in some agencies and the customers were not satisfied. There was no clear methodology or framework or process to enhance the level of providing the public services or measuring the government agencies performance and encouraging them to move to the electronic work.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
The Country’s leadership seriously addresses the transformation to e-Government, through the issuance of regulations and legislative decisions supporting transition to an information society that depends on technology and the benefits it can deliver in order to accomplish its objective to deliver benefits to all stakeholders. The Council of Ministers Resolution No. 40 dated 27/3/2006 laid the foundation for launching and measuring the transition to e-Government, where two items (22, 23) sets controls for each governmental agency to measure the extent of e-Government transition according to periodic indicators established. These resolutions also required these indicators to be included in Yesser annual reports as well as the issue of a general report after each phase to the Royal Supreme Council, illustrating the extent of transition according to these indicators. Based on the concept of "what gets measured gets managed” the initiative of measuring the e-transformation has been started. It is transformation, because it touches many points and has dramatic change inside the government agencies and a huge impact on the customers as external beneficiaries.

The responsibility of measuring the transition of the e-Government Program within governmental agencies in terms of their initiatives and services was entrusted to Yesser, who have the responsibility to measure the real transition to e-Government for the projects being implemented to enhance the governmental performance and increasing the efficiency of the governmental services delivery mechanism, this in addition to increase effectiveness of the services offered to citizens and other stakeholders in a yearly bases.

In order for Yesser to be able to follow-up and provide comprehensive reports for this methodology; international best practices were applied as it sets the foundation for the design of a comprehensive framework for measuring KSA’s development during the e-Government Program's development. It takes into consideration many transformational points, such as:
• Provides decision-makers with direct measurements to follow the progress of work across government agencies, including required aspects of work to achieve the e-Government vision
• Supporting the Program mission which encourages and facilitates the need for, “e-Transformation”.
• Provide performance indicators directly related to meeting the objectives of the e-Government initiative Creates a comprehensive measurement for all directives driving implementation of e-Government.
This unique measurement framework is also adaptive to actual Saudi government conditions. These realities are rapidly absorbed and incorporated in next generation measurements, such as:
• The success in implementing e-Government is dependent upon paradigm shift in changing the culture across all levels within the government
• The ultimate goal of the methodology is to provide and develop integrated and effective e-Services with a focus on the various stakeholders including, other governmental agencies, the private sector, or end service consumers.
• Establish a reference point with all agencies
• In order to succeed, a methodology which supports and guides technology programs to meet National Plans is necessary.
• The methodology must have a clear vision, be realistic and viable for a practical and manageable implementation.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
The methodology was developed by Yesser’s team with consulting academic persons from Saudi universities, government agencies, stakeholder groups (citizens and leaders) and some private organizations. Yesser is responsible of implementing this methodology in a yearly bases and it is applied to 160 government agencies that provide a services to citizens, residents, visitors, other government agencies and private sector organizations.

(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.
As Saudi Arabia’s first e-Government transition measuring process and as a means to follow up with government agencies’ transition objectively and clearly, the Program follows a methodology and a specific mechanism aimed at measuring a number of goals during the transition to an e-Government society; these goals are based on a number of identified stages in order to achieve the vision and objectives of this initiative. A general framework of implementing e-Government stages, upon which measurements are defined, takes into consideration the requirements of the requirements of e-Government and the decisions issued to support such a transition:
A framework consists of four stages covering the transformation, this is based on readiness assessment and feedback obtained from large sample of Saudi government agencies. This framework covers the following 2 top-level or prime stages:

1. Building stage
The building stage started in mid 2007 and lasted for two years; it is divided into 4 perspectives:
 Institutional organization of e-Government.
 Information environment.
 Technical infrastructure
 Electronic services.
2. Development and availability of e-services stage
The “development and availability of e-services stage” started at the end of quarter 3, 2009. After two years, we started the third measurement with a sub framework divided into the following main perspectives:
• Impact
• E-enablement
• Services

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
The following steps demonstrate the measurement mechanism and indicators that were achieved by applying this methodology:
 Linking measurement questions with the sub-pivots and the main perspectives: There is a survey that has been developed and built based on its corresponding phase. This survey includes many items linked to a specific measures (KPI’s) formulated in the form of questions contained in the e-measurement model which are available through the program website for Governmental agencies.
 Identifying weights for perspectives, sub perspectives and measures.
 Converting each answer for each question into a numerical measurement in order to facilitate comparison and to follow up progress for each response.
 Determine the target value and the minimum target value of each measurement.
 Several teams were charged to make field visits to government agencies in order to directly collect measurement data and ensure accuracy and credibility of results; this has been marked as a partner, which is non-profit academic and specialized centers, and Saudi universities. The Program seeks through this partnership to gather information as accurately as possible and employ specialists that have academic reference to contribute in making decisions and future directions as an optimally effective tool adopted by the Program's policies.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
During the implementation of this methodology, especially in its first round, there were some challenges and requirements to avoid or minimize these challenges. These challenges are:

1- Cooperation and joint action: Cultivating a culture of participation and the sharing of information across government agencies is one of the most important challenges facing the transformation to e-Government environment. A coherent and integrated approach among governmental agencies is chief to providing better and faster services.

2- Human resources readiness: Many studies on e-Government initiatives have shown that up to 75% of these projects fail to deliver the expected benefits. The primary reasons for this failure are related to change management, the transformation process must allocate sufficient time in order to change stakeholders need in terms of motivation and the understanding of the change necessary to ensure success, and this is reflected in allocating sufficient time for training, communications and team work

3- Spreading a culture of customer service: In addition to the cultural change, the success of transformation to e-Government is directly related to developing a customer centered approach; this approach is achieved by changing the mindset of the development team and government agencies as the services providers. If we are to fulfill this vision, we need to ensure that customers needs are met in terms of offering a comprehensive set of services which are clear and easy to understand way, this in addition to providing them with all information they need.

4- e-Government is not merely technical: The spreading of a culture of understanding and nature of e-Government projects can ensure a successful transformation towards an e-Government environment, however, failure to do so will lead to a focus on technical aspects, thus neglecting procedures and the purpose for improvement. In order to ensure success active participation of all stakeholders should become the first priority of the project champion and government officials at each governmental agency who are responsible for e-Government implementation.

(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
To implement this methodology we have developed a system that capture all results of the survey electronically and this system is under continuous enhancement based on every year experience. On the other hand there are assessment teams to visit all agencies around the kingdom and assure the credibility of the answers and explore the areas of providing the services to the citizens in each organization to make sure that it well developed to serve all kind of customers (disabled, women, old men, etc…). We have formalized 35 teams and each team consists of two members. This represents a cost of approx. $750,000 yearly.

Governmental agencies included in this measurement, representatives from the private sector including local and global advisory organizations, reviewed the results in order to give a view on the reality of measuring e-Government transition in governmental agencies and project the effect of this methodology for the future. This is made more important since the Program has addressed the majority of governmental agencies with Independent budgets, those providing e-Services: (G - G, G - B, G - C). 169 governmental agencies were covered during 2011.

Significant benefits to the target group of government agencies (39.19% of all government agencies) passed the first stage and moved to the second stage of e-Government transformation measurement: the availability of e-Services stage. This indicates that these results have shown a progress on the first measurement.

The average value of the agencies achievement result was 59.89%, and with analyzing the components of this average shows that there is a significant progress on all perspective levels in comparison to the first measurement except the overall result of the information environment perspective, which slightly declined in its achievement percentage.

The total achievement results within the 4 perspectives of the framework were: 1-Institutional organization of e-Government: 65.35%; 2- Technical Infrastructure: 71.60% 3-Information Environment: 64.49%; and 4-Electronic Services: 31.08%. These results also helped make comparisons between governmental agencies’ results from year to year, tracking improvement, delays, measurement results, and other aspects of this methodology.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
We have developed the methodology to last for many years based on many phases. The methodology also, consists of many perspectives and dimensions for each phase. We can implement it phase by phase at any time and any place and we can customize to it and reuse it to serve different purposes. We have seen its benefits in the government agencies and it became a tool to all government agencies that enables them to move faster and based on standards toward the e-government and it involved in changing the culture of providing the services and transforming the governmental agencies to be service-oriented and customer-centric organization. This methodology also supplies factors contributing to successful application of this concept for any country who may want to apply this methodology - especially those similar to Saudi Arabia in terms of culture, geography and transition level to an information society -for turning all of their government services to e-Services.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
There is no doubt that the implementation of this methodology while engaging 169 agencies has produced many lessons. Some can be summarized in the following points:

• The first driver of Saudi Arabia’s major concerns detailing the benefits and positive impact from the issuance of an annual report to His Majesty in supporting the transition and follow-up the governmental Agencies.

• Follow-up from senior agency officials and their interest in the outcome of the concerned government agency.

• The necessity to be gradual in the measurement and start at a common suitable point that can be applied to all agencies.

• The importance of the governmental agencies awareness with measurement methodology and to involve them through feedbacks and hold regular workshops as and when necessary.

• The governmental agencies cooperation and their responses have had a substantial impact on the success and continuity of this initiative. They are extremely interested in the transformation which is often reflected internally within the agency and externally through the uptake of services by the country in general.

• Transparency and credibility in providing data has contributed significantly towards making the right decisions and enabled efficient planning for the transformation which reflects real support for the decision-making process.

• The necessity to have a mechanism to verify and qualify the answers in order to ensure the accuracy and quality of the output. As means of helping to achieve this, multiple teams have visited all governmental agencies covered by the measurement following the receipt of their responses, initial inspection and obtaining feedback to be discussed with the senior managers in the agency to define the e-Government reality in the governmental agencies through the process of analyzing results and reporting.

• Creating competition between governmental agencies in general and among those listed agencies within the same sector, which drive the governmental agencies to compete, thus seeking to achieve advanced positions and getting benefits from the experiences of its predecessors in such a field.

In conclusion, this methodology has benefited the Kingdom with positive impact of its implementation, through the stakeholders’ feedback and through the improvement created by its implementation with the senior leaders of Saudi Arabia. As the application of this concept is new to the Kingdom and the region, it is recognizing specific features which can be applied to a wide range of agencies. It is difficult to obtain measurements form the government sector, time is required to gain acceptance as demonstrated after announcing the measurement results. However, acceptance levels have increased significantly and is now seen as positive by most of the governmental agencies involved believing that the benefits will help them to identify shortcomings, determine where efforts will be have most impact for their own agency’s progress and prosperity as well as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Yesser – Government of Saudi Arabia, Ministry of CIT, Yesser - e-Government Program
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Wala khayyat
Title:   Eng.  
Telephone/ Fax:   + 96614522133 /+ 96614522353
Institution's / Project's Website:   www.yesser.gov.sa
E-mail:   wkhayyat@yesser.gov.sa  
Address:   Riyadh KSA
Postal Code:   11112
City:   Riyadh
State/Province:   Riyadh
Country:   Saudi Arabia

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