| 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.
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 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.
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.