Office of Strategy Management (OSM)
Saudi eGovernment Program

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Alongside the launching of the e-government program in 2005 by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) came the establishment of Yesser, an organisation whose role it has been to develop and install a whole of government and integrated system for the provision of services to the public. This organisation subsequently developed a National e-Government Strategy and Action Plan for the period 2006-2010, followed by a Second National Action Plan which covers the period 2012-2016. The aim was and is not only to modernize and transform government administration and to revolutionize the way that services are delivered to the public but also to ensure that vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, who were not always treated equally by the nature of the previously fragmented and dysfunctional system, have equality of opportunity and access to the wide range of public services available in KSA. Social groups such as the poor, the illiterate, the disabled, the elderly, women, youths, immigrants and ethnic minorities were disadvantaged at different levels and this can be seen through an explanation of how the system previously operated. There are approximately 300 government agencies and departments in KSA and each operated separately, even when a service required the input of several of them. For example, in order to fulfill the requirements of one agency, it was necessary for clients to obtain documents from another. This meant that many forms had to be completed and clients had to wait and queue, often for long periods, in different offices that were in different locations. Therefore, those who were least able to afford to travel to these offices, who were least able to complete the forms, who were least able to wait comfortably and who were least able to articulate their needs, were disadvantaged. Added to these disadvantages is the fact that while public servants in KSA have a strong sense of duty and commitment to their work, people from certain groups and networks known to them would be more likely to receive preferential treatment and the least likely to benefit from this human aspect were the disadvantaged and the vulnerable. So the fundamental problem was that the public services of Saudi Arabia were out of date, stuck in a time-warp, while society and the societal expectations of a growing and increasingly knowledgeable public were not being met. The major problems and issues included a lack of communication between agencies, the constant duplication of work, the loss of valuable time by clients who could otherwise have been productively employed in their workplaces or homes and the over-working of public servants who could not be efficient despite their best efforts. These factors led to a public who were disillusioned and disconnected from their government and its agencies, a public that felt disempowered but which had, in order that they met the regulatory and legal requirements of the country, to fundamentally put up with poor levels of service provision. In sum, the previous system was outdated and inefficient and lacked any strategic planning or direction.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
The solution originated with the Council of Ministers, a highly placed legislative body in KSA, and which issued a Royal Decree regarding the formulation of a plan for e-government. The responsibility for acting upon this decree was given to the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology and this ministry subsequently founded Yesser, which is the organisation tasked with developing and implementing the ICT-based solutions to the problems identified in the previous section. The plan was, from the outset of the First Action Plan (2006-2010), to be inclusive and to consult with all stakeholders including the key potential beneficiaries, namely the people of KSA and the government departments and agencies through whom the plan would be implemented. Thus, consumers were consulted through surveys and meetings and valuable contributions were made by government agencies as well as by the government itself in the form of ministers and ministries and other stakeholders such as the KSA e-Government Supreme Supervisory Committee, the KSA e-Government Program Steering Committee and the KSA e-Government Program Advisory Group. Consultancy services were contracted to assist with the methodologies and best practices available, and to support the Office of Strategy Management (OSM) with implementation. In general terms, the strategies adopted by Yesser were to provide the means that would allow information to be shared electronically across all government agencies and to extend this to ensure that there was a single network, with a single set of standards and guidelines that are a model for and reflection of recognised best practices. This strategy, furthermore, would ensure that the dynamics existed for updating the system so that it remained alongside recognised best practices and advances in modern technology. The goal and rationale for developing and implementing this e-government system is to enable service consumers to the extent that their demands and requirements can be met and satisfied by accessing a single portal. The OSM is a key dynamic within Yesser and is based in a concept that has become recognised around the world as being a best practice for project development and implementation. Its primary focus is to 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 is to bridge the gap between e-government strategy formulation and its implementation. It has also taken advantage of the opportunity 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. The principles of inclusion and stakeholder involvement established for the First Action Plan have been carried forward to the second one, which is now coming towards its later stages. With OSM at the core of this second plan, the following principles have been adopted: • Ongoing and open communication with those in charge of government agencies • The participation of government agencies at all levels in the implementation and monitoring processes • The ongoing participation and elicitation of values and opinions from the public through surveys and focus groups • The management of the implementation of the project from both a macro (whole of government) perspective as well as from a micro (individual agency and office) perspective The upholding of these principles means that the main objectives of the project will be achieved and the target audiences, which are the government agencies and, most importantly, the citizens of KSA, will not only be better served and better able to provide services, but will be included as stakeholders within e-governance in Saudi Arabia.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
The initiative taken on by Yesser has a number of unique features, particularly within a Saudi Arabian context. Commonly described as being a high income developing nation, strategies are often followed which aim at the ultimate convergence of, for example, the system of education with those of advanced nations. This initiative is not incremental in this way but, rather, aims to propel the system of government service delivery within a relatively short period of time to a point beyond those of most if not all nations by adopting and combining best practices with adaptive and progressive modern technology. This can be seen through creative and innovative approaches such as: • The use of consulting companies with proven track records in successfully pushing the boundaries of service delivery forward • The inclusion of all stakeholder groups within the process • Creating the dynamics for constant improvement and updating • Creating a nationwide single number call centre for government service delivery 24 hours a day and for 365 day a year • Developing the skills of employees beyond that which previously existed within the Saudi population • Creating and maintaining a knowledge database for ensuring present and future best practices

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
Key development: Adopting and evaluating an execution strategy for best practice by: • Considering alternative management frameworks • Interviewing representatives from competing consulting companies • Inviting tenders for parts of the project • Finally adopting what is considered the best practice in terms of a strategy execution model (‘Execution Premium’ developed by Dr’s David Norton and Robert Kaplan) Key development: Defining the roles and responsibilities of the Office of Strategy Management (OSM) by: • Customizing the OSM theoretical model to the reality and constraints of the KSA government public sector • Defining the responsibilities, management processes, governance, governance calendar, tools, and human resources • Developing a detailed KSA e-government strategic management processes workflow Key development: Engagement with staff by: • Selecting, engaging and on-boarding staff to fulfill defined roles that require specific skills that can function optimally within the OSM structure Key development: Developing a strategy map by: • Translating the Second Action Plan into a single page strategy map with four strategic perspectives (learning and growth, business processes, customer service and value management) • Developing four strategic themes, also within the map (a sustainable e-government workforce, government efficiency, public interaction and collaboration and innovation) • Developing a customer value proposition with differentiating attributes, and 22 prioritized strategic objectives Key development: Alignment of initiatives by: • Establishing the relationships between the prioritized 46 strategic initiatives and the 22 strategic objectives • Ensuring that through this analysis the ‘strategic impact’ was clarified Key development: Key performance indicators (KPI’s) set by: • Selecting the areas where KPI’s should be established • Detailing and documenting these KPI’s • Setting quantitative targets for the whole period of the Second Action Plan (2012-2016) Key development: Determining nominations for project ownership by: • Considering and determining responsibilities including how efforts could be coordinated to achieve the different strategy components • Distributing results among the Executive Management Team Leaders of government agencies. Key development: Defining the OSM Communication Plan by: • Aligning the OSM and other strands of the organisation to a shared vision and common direction • Fostering an understanding of the e-government strategy throughout the organization • Ensuring that individuals understand how they can help to implement the organization’s strategy • Providing ongoing feedback about the progress of executing the strategy • Enhancing self-motivation to achieve strategic objectives • Creating awareness of OSM process, roles & responsibilities among e-government leadership • Develop buy-in so that government agencies and employees participate and support the OSM processes and the execution of the e-government strategy Key development: Ensuring further software acquisition, implementation and training by: • Evaluating the relative benefits of software prior to acquisition and that it is aligned with the defined best practice (Executive Premium) • Customizing where necessary the software to meet the requirements of the system by utilizing the skills of external and internal expertise • Ensuring that data loading, training and support is adequate, accurate and ongoing • Ensuring that this web-based solution appropriately documents and reports so that the system is continuously updated Key development: Facilitating strategic review meetings by: • Initiating and holding a quarterly meeting governance calendar • Ensuring that the performance of strategic objectives is set against measures and targets and against milestones and budgets at the end of each quarter and that these are discussed and evaluated at the strategic review meetings Key development: Designing and implementing a risk mitigation plan by: • Identifying and ranking the main strategic risks • Developing risk mitigation action plans and assigning responsibilities for managing them Key development: Continuous Operation of OSM by: • Ensuring that practices are embedded with e-government organizations

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
Following the government decision in favour of the of e-governance and the establishment of Yesser, the strategy and Planning Unit of the organisation researched and developed the means by which the policy could become a futuristic reality. In order to achieve this, it was recognised that the undertaking must be as inclusive as possible of all stakeholders and therefore government agencies and citizens were included at an early stage through consultations, surveys and focus groups. These elicited valuable contributions and such were also forthcoming from other partners such as the KSA e-Government Supreme Supervisory Committee, the KSA e-Government Programme Steering Committee and the KSA e-Government Programme Advisory Group. However, the stakeholders also included a wide range of other partners and these include the external consultancy companies who assisted not only in the design and specifications of the system but also in establishing the methods and approaches that would be most likely to ensure that best practices were embedded within the system across its whole range of operations. It was recognised, furthermore, that despite the strides made by KSA over recent years with regard to the quality of its human resources, external expertise was required and this, alongside KSA employees, made very valuable contributions to the project. It would be wrong not to include the staff and employees of government agencies as well as their colleagues in Yasser who have enabled the system to be so successfully implemented and to operate as it does. Further valuable partners include the management and staff of the National Call Centre that has been established alongside and complementary to the system. However, while there have been many contributors to the success of the system, the most important group (owners) who made the system successful are the people of Saudi Arabia.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The overall financial cost for establishing and running the system is estimated to be SAR 3 billion. Within this, the budget has included a number of outsourcing and contractual costs for OSM that include IT capital and outsourcing at approximately SAR 6.38 million, staffing costs of SAR 18.75 million and contracts for consultancy support work and ancillary services that are estimated to be SAR 6.75 million. All of the costs for the project were contributed by the government of KSA, including the ongoing running of the system. The technical resources include customized and state-of-the-art software, the upgrading of ICT infrastructure where necessary and the installation of hardware. Alongside these resources is the necessary documentation, training and technical support provisions made. With regard to human resources, a wide array of people and skills were involved. As KSA is lacking in some of the specific skills required for the project, a team of experts from IBM was utilized in the developmental stage of the system. These were supplemented by a team from Yasser who shadowed and assisted them with the aim of gaining the necessary knowledge and skills to take the project further. The development of the internal skill base has been further extended so that new graduates and selected line managers have been enrolled in a ‘future experts’ programme. These programs were found to be particularly beneficial as the Second Action Plan matured. The training and mentoring of government agency staff has also been undertaken within the strategic plans developed by OSM and these are conducted at both formal and informal levels. National Call Centre Staff were also included within a joined-up system for staff recruitment and training. It is important to emphasize that the underlying philosophy that has been adopted by Yesser generally and by OSM specifically is one of continuous learning and development within a constructivist learning and training environment. This was considered to be a part of the ‘best practices’ parameter that is commensurate with the principles built into the system of continuous improvement and development. At more senior levels, the human resources used include senior government officials, the management team at Yesser and the management of the now well established Yesser Consulting Group. The extent and nature of the duties undertaken by such senior staff can be exemplified by noting recent additions to the team at the OSM, where the posts of director, BSC performance manager, change manager, data manager analyst, senior initiative advisors (4 posts) and coordinators (2 posts) have been created and filled.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
With specific regard to the Office of strategic Management (OSM), numerous factors have contributed to the success of the initiative and five are listed below: Adapting to change The Second Action Plan is a complex strategy as it covers a whole country, is being implemented over a five-year period and involves approximately 300 government agencies. This means that the OSM leadership, management and staff have developed the ability to face new situations with flexibility and versatility, accepting changes positively and constructively, feeling comfortable with ambiguities so that they can be turned towards positive directions. Creativity & Innovation The implementation plan involves innovative ideas and methods and these must be introduced and implemented with conviction and demonstrable actions which show that they can work and can fundamentally and positively change the existing status quo. This effectively means installing belief in the vision for change among government employees and others who are often initially skeptical and resistant to change. This means that OSM staff have developed transformational leadership and management skills. Teamwork OSM can be seen as a core team within a wider team-working scenario. This means that its staff have learned to work as a single unit and to have the flexibility to work across the whole of Yesser and with agencies and partners from other elements of the whole system. Indeed, it can be said that the success of the initiative has been built upon and depends upon the fact that it is not only a whole-of-government approach but a whole-of-the-people approach and in order to achieve this, OSM staff have developed the people skills necessary to be always inclusive and never exclusive. Leadership Leadership has been of critical importance through the whole process, as has the ability to appropriately delegate without abdicating. This leadership extends from government and its ministers, across Yesser, and within OSM and individual government agencies and is apparent in the use of numerous skills, for example in motivating individuals and teams, in connecting with the people of KSA, in driving forward enthusiastically and, through these aspects, creating in all of those involved a genuine commitment and responsiveness to the successful implementation of the initiative. Strategy Alignment OSM has understood and developed the expertise necessary to align e-government strategy with corporate strategy and in turn to align these with OSM and other departmental strategies to ensure that everyone involved is a positive contributor to the outcomes.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
The strategy adopted is monitored and evaluated through a number of means. One important one is a software tool called ‘Executive Strategy Manager,’ which was designed by a company, Palladium, and which seeks to track best practices from around the world and ensure that these are reflected in its software products. This is a web-based application that guides the user through a step by step process for developing and subsequently reporting on tools such as balanced scorecards and strategy maps. The system allows an individual or organisation to communicate a corporate strategy and to identify and report on key performance drivers as well as to develop these systems as the initiative matures and develops. A further point with regard to this system is that information can be extracted that is concerned with the relative user experiences that exist across groups. Therefore, the notion of equity and fairness to all people, especially to those who are disadvantaged and vulnerable, is not only built within the system, but can also be measured by it. Apart from this useful tool, the system has an integrated business intelligence system which is capable of monitoring and measuring performances against key performance indicators (KPI’s) with regard to all areas covered by it, for example customers, providers and users. Thus, the system is effectively an ongoing source of management information, which is used to not only improve the existing levels of operation and service but also to guide the planning of future services. Alongside this is another system, called Qiyas, and this measures progress that has been made with regard to e-transformation on an annual basis. It is clearly of importance that the skills and training levels of government agency staff with regard to the initiative are optimized, and that their performances are measured and evaluated. This is not only undertaken by the system described above but follow up action can be taken by the Yesser Consulting Group, which provides government agencies with help and guidance. It is also important to highlight the rationale that is behind the strategy for monitoring and evaluation and this is that the system in not designed to be static, it is meant to be dynamic and to constantly be changing. Therefore, to understand what the best future system will be like, we have to know what the present one is like and how close to optimality it is performing.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
Any successful initiative will have to meet and overcome significant problems and challenges. This one is no different and the main obstacles encountered during the implementation of it were: An initial lack of knowledge concerning best practices This was addressed by an intense process of research and evaluation of different best practice alternatives, with the internal management team undertaking discussions and actions to arrive at a consensus about the conceptual OSM framework to be implemented and how to optimally customize it for the required use. A lack of OSM knowledge This was overcome by holding training events for executive leaders across agencies which were organized and delivered with the aim of educating 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 new ideas and methods, improve coordination and co-operation between agencies, and to develop a balanced and agreed distribution of roles. Delays in securing people with the right skills This was overcome by adjusting HR policies so that people with the right skills and potential were attracted, on-boarded and retained. Resistance to change The introduction of the OSM concept was resisted by some organizational leaders who were accustomed to taking decisions within their exclusive functional domains. This potentially serious problem was overcome by assigning cross-functional duties in order that strategic dialogues could be fostered and a collective responsibility on strategy performance could be assumed. Resistance to transparent performance-based assessment To overcome this, an intense change management process was enacted which helped leaders to understand that executing a strategy is a learning process and to encourage them to take decisions based on measures and targets, to improve performance rather than using the processes as instruments for assigning blame.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
Positive benefits that can be directly attributed to the OSM include the fact that the system is able to capture and process information that can be used to develop the system further. This in turn means that there is a constant feedback loop which can be used to enhance the services provided and their delivery to users. In similar vein, the fact of keeping an updated strategy map provides an understanding of how parts of the initiative are performing and interacting. This, again, provides positive action which can only result in the provision of better services to the public. Strategic alignment and the tracking of objective performance measures means that other aspects of the system can be balanced, for example financial and administrative areas, and this will also contribute towards the efficiency of the project. In a wider sense, it is clear that as the unit that developed the strategy which underpinned and enabled the project, the Office of Strategic Management (OSM) has a direct responsibility for the success of the overall initiative. The difference that was made in the delivery of public services came in the fact that whereas under the previous system customers often had to personally visit a number of agencies to obtain various documents in order to obtain one service, all of these documents are available from a single portal. Therefore, services can be delivered at one point and all agencies can access all documents and other necessary types of information to process applications from one central electronic store. Despite the generally high caliber of government agency staff, mistakes were inevitable, particularly when there were high levels of pressure to process applications from a frustrated public who had to be personally present at the offices. These mistakes could have severe consequences, particularly on the most vulnerable individuals in society, and it could mean them not receiving much needed benefits that they were entitled to. The fact of a centralized electronic store, where documents remained in one place, means that now there are few, if any, mistakes made. Even if there are inaccuracies, they only have to be corrected electronically once and they are then corrected for all departments and for all future or current applications. A further aspect of the service that can be seen as providing tangible and measurable benefits is in the fact that users can gain access to government services around the clock and on every day of the year and this can be done through a number of telecommunications and electronic channels using one website address or one telephone number. Under the previous system, each of the 300 agencies would have to be contacted by telephone as the only possible alternative to visiting the offices. The net benefit that has accrued to the public can be shown by some specific examples. If a person is seeking entry to college of university or is applying for a job, they can have their qualifications verified within a matter of minutes, while in the past such a procedure would have taken days. Unemployed youths had little access to government services that are designed to encourage, help and motivate them in seeking a way into work, but now access can be gained directly through any portal and information can be disseminated electronically as well as in person. KSA takes responsibility for millions of pilgrims each year, who often need access to a variety of services. In the past, access was very difficult, now it is seamless and accessible. The impact of the new service on the public has been measured by surveys and customer satisfaction feedback. These have returned levels of satisfaction that are in excess of 70 per cent, and this can be compared with levels that were consistently below 10 per cent under the previous system. These feedback and measurement methods go beyond quantification and indicate that the people of Saudi Arabia now have a much stronger sense of ownership of what is now considered as being a valued public good. They have also recognised the benefits that they have gained in terms of time and money that they previously considered to have been wasted by a service that they resented for its incompetence.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
It is becoming increasingly clear in the modern world of business and of organisational life that change is no longer an infrequent occurrence but is an ongoing dynamic that has to be embraced as a constant rather than as a rarity. One of the problems with the previous system is that it was ingrained within a mindset that reflected these now outdated beliefs and approaches. The new system, on the other hand, is attempting to be ingrained within the modern dynamics of constant change and improvement. The Office of Strategy Management (OSM) is at the core of this new dynamic and is therefore a constant necessity if these new approaches and ways of thinking are to become embedded as the new paradigm. The alternative is the setting up of a new system that is modern for a few years and then becomes increasingly outdated and increasingly reverts the new mindset among the Saudi population, as well as among government employees, to the old status quo and the old disappointments and disconnection with public services. Fundamentally, if the OSM is to remain within its conceptual framework, which is a strategic initiative whose purpose is to embed internationally recognized best practices to transform and enhance the strategy management performance of the e-Government virtual organization, it must be sustainable if this role is to be fulfilled. In terms of being socially, economically and institutionally sustainable, there is clear evidence that it is being positively embraced by the Saudi population, as evidenced by the fact that surveys of the new system indicate satisfaction levels consistently over 70 per cent compared to levels that were consistently below 10 per cent under the old system. In terms of institutions and regulations, once some initial resistance to change had been overcome and government employees and users could see the benefits of the new system, it de facto became positively sustainable, and the fact that the regulatory system can now be upheld by one central store of documents and records means that regulations can be fairly, equitably and seamlessly applied. In economic and financial terms, the productivity of government employees as well as their moral has been significantly enhanced and because users no longer have to travel often long distances to attend a variety of offices, the productivity of the country as a whole has been improved. Although financial investment continues in line with the set budgets, this is on a declining scale as the cost benefits of bringing more agencies into the system bear fruit. With regard to dissemination throughout the public services of KSA, once the OSM reaches the appropriate level of maturity within Yesser, it is planned to expand it to other Government agencies to improve their own strategy management as part of the wider e-government policies of the Kingdom. As a member of the GCC, and within a spirit of regional cooperation, there is little doubt that this best practices and modern approach will spread to other GCC nations and, ultimately, to further afield.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
Overall experience with the initiative Although it was always envisioned that the Office of Strategic Management (OSM) would 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 true meanings and implications of this task only became clear as it was put into practice. In an abstract sense, it was important that what knowledge is and what it means had to be fully understood in order that the most important areas could be focused upon. In a philosophical sense, knowledge requires three key factors, namely truth, belief and justification, but it is also argued that it requires cultural alignment, in other words that it is within the socially constructed beliefs of those who seek knowledge. Against this understanding, and adjusting the definition to the modern and practical world of the OSM, the experience is that knowledge is constructively acquired through information, facts, descriptions and skills, learning through project implementations and from the dissemination of knowledge from the experiences of others. Thus, the OSM facilitates knowledge creation through the systematic capture of results achieved by the Second Action Plan initiatives and the analysis of these results and decisions made during formal meetings. These plus other information sources, such as updated strategy maps, provides the pool of knowledge that will make the evolution of the Kingdom’s e-government implementation systematic and predictable. The fact that OSM is at the core of the Yesser Project means that it is the foundational point for actions and therefore it is the first point of referral when there are issues or questions concerning how the initiative is evolving, in how problems can be dealt with and how strategies can be molded and even changed. However, while this experience was challenging and exciting, it did not have a strategic plan for how the individual within OSM could have a personal strategy for dealing with such an array of duties and contingencies. Therefore, the experience of individuals within OSM is that they had to evolve and develop as people who could cope with the pressures. The lessons learned Based in the experiences described, one clear lesson learned is that future OSM functions should include a greater orientation towards understanding the key areas of importance, the drivers of the OSM mission in terms of what the important learning and developmental areas are. Alongside this, a further lesson is that individuals within OSM should receive guidance with regard to their personal strategies for dealing with future initiatives as they are implemented. In a wider sense, the inclusion of all stakeholders should come at the earliest possible point during pre-planning and strategy development. Recommendations Thus, the key recommendations are: • That there should be an even better understanding of the importance of investments in human capital, including an awareness of individual training and development needs • That future OSM strategy developments are based in a thorough review of the experiences and actions from this initiative

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Saudi eGovernment Program
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Adel Mreer
Title:   Director  
Telephone/ Fax:   966114522353
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   King Abdulaziz Communications Complex
Postal Code:   11112
City:   Riyadh
State/Province:   Riyadh

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