| 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The initiative, which started manual and ended fully digitized, has completely transformed the way government entities handle services provision and the beneficiaries journey in acquiring services. In its pursuit for modernization, it has utilized the concepts of digital transformation which were recommended to government service G2C. It also led a Business-Model-Innovation, which successfully transformed the whole business model in many dimensions:
• Roles, responsibilities and accountability towards the government service catalogue have been returned to the respective government entities.
• Manual error-prone activities have been automated.
• Efforts in service transformation and progress monitoring have become accumulative.
• Confusions around service data, meta-data and procedures have been eliminated on both G2G and G2C level.
• The complexity of service transformation has become manageable.
• Collaboration between government entities has become smooth and effective. Focus has been turned to results and beneficiaries’ benefit instead of excuses and avoiding responsibility.
• The number of transformed services per year has increased dramatically. Within only one year from the launch of MARSAD, the number of interactive services has increased by 10%, transactional services by 12% and transformational services by 42%
| 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
Marsad initiative was envisioned, implemented and administered by Yesser, the e-Government program of Saudi Arabia. Yesser is responsible for raising the public sector's productivity and efficiency, providing better and more easy-to-use services for individual and business customers, increasing return on investment (ROI) and providing the required information in a timely and highly accurate fashion. It leads enablement of the implementation of e-government by reducing centralization in e-government implementation while ensuring the minimum level of coordination between government departments.
The initiative is administered in cooperation between Yesser, the government entities and the Ministry council:
• Yesser Role:
o Collecting requirements
o Design & development of MARSAD Platform
o Definition of Guidelines and Standards
• Government Entities:
o Providing needs and perceptions on the service catalogue
o Feeding MARSAD Platform with relevant service data
o Implementing service transformation roadmaps
• Ministry Council:
o Issuing MARSAD Policy
o Reviewing e-Transformation Rankings
o Sponsoring and enforcing service transformation
The size of the population effected by the initiative went far beyond 32,556,199 Saudi citizens to include residents, businesses, tourists and pilgrims.
| 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
To avoid earlier problems and ensure a comprehensive solution, multiple workshops were organized in cooperation with Civil Servants, Executives and Decision Makers, Citizens, Businesses, Academic Bodies and Government Boards or Ministry Council to gather their requirements and needs. These requirements were then translated into a central online platform serving and accessible to all the stakeholders and many other groups through different channels including, Yesser portal, Saudi portal, Qiyas (The National Centre for Assessment in Higher Education) and many others.
Identified as a key Enabler of the national transformation vision 2030, MARSAD implementation went through 6 phases led by the Yesser team:
Phase 1: Initiation and Planning
A first draft of the initiative MARSAD was developed by the Yesser Program team. The draft introduced a new business model that is supported by an online central system, which organizes the collaboration between government agencies.
The MARSAD initiative constituted of three main components:
• Standards & Guidelines
• MARSAD Online Platform
• Government Policy/decree
Phase 2: Standards & Guidelines Definition
Standards and conventions were developed and compiled in a booklet called MARSAD Guide. Government entities were then invited to review the draft version of the guide and give their feedback. The guide was published and communicated by Yesser to government agencies through multiple channels including, but not limited to events, workshops and emailing.
Phase 3: Design & Development
Activities were underway by the Yesser Program for the design and development of an online platform that hosts the unified government service catalogue and organizes the workflow and collaboration between Yesser and government entities. In February 2015, the solution was successfully launched. “Looking through the citizens’ lens” was the most important message of the initiative and it got emphasized through multiple channels.
Phase 4: Marketing & Awareness Means
Several workshops, events, site visits and meetings have been conducted to ensure all government entities are fully aware of the initiative and how to collaborate and contribute. A 24/7 hotline has been allocated to ensure continuous support to MARSAD users. To guarantee full abidance by the government entities, a government policy was prepared and presented to the Ministry Council. The latter issued the policy mandating full compliance to MARSAD guidelines and declared MARSAD Platform as the single source of truth for government services.
Phase 5: Services On boarding
At this phase, 160 government entities started to include their services on MARSAD platform. They were required to provide a 360° view on each service. Soon, MARSAD hosted information about 8,000 services, where each service has around 32 attributes. The validation workload was very challenging; it took high dedication and commitment from the Yesser program to have it done. After the validation, according to MARSAD Guide, the number of valid services has been reduced to 4000. At the end of 2015, a central and approved service catalogue was published to the one stop shop (Saudi.gov.sa). Citizens, tourists, businesses and pilgrims could finally get all relevant information about services.
Phase 6: Business Intelligence Scheme
With the service repository being ready, a series of advanced analysis and prioritizing action were conducted. At this stage, a two-dimension prioritization scheme has been implemented into MARSAD to allow for prioritizing services with the highest urgency and potential for transformation. The prioritization scheme calculated the readiness and impact score of each service and enabled automatic creation of service transformation roadmaps for each ministry.Further, the system helped to create a National Service Matrix that highlights dependencies between cross-agency services. This helped in recognizing which services can be integrated together to form a transformative service that releases the citizen from visits to many agencies to accomplish one goal
| 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The major stakeholders for this initiative can be categorized as follows:
Main agency leading the requirements engineering, design and implementation of the MARSAD initiative.
They are the public services owners. They were involved in reviewing and commenting Yesser’s design of MARSAD. Their role is primary in uploading their services information on MARSAD platform. The government entities were involved through a variety of workshops, events, emailing campaigns and 24/7 hotline.
The council was responsible for issuing the policy for declaring MARSAD as the single source of truth about government services. It was also responsible for holding government entities accountable for the integrity and accuracy of their respective services published through MARSAD.
Press & Media
By publishing MARSAD reports on the maturity of government services, Saudi Press and Media played an important role in pressurizing government entities that rank low in services maturity and urging them to take the required measure. The urgency of service transformation became a matter of public opinion and no more up to the specific judgment of an entity.
The services beneficiaries have the chance to comment on the services in the catalogue over the Saudi Portal. Those comments are valuable input for government entities to take an immediate action and to be considered during service transformation.
| 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
The implementation of MARSAD has been having a great impact on different levels:
• Citizens can now access services at their convenience anywhere at any time and powerfully shape the transformation vision. As statistics show, within the last 6 months, electronic service usage has increased to 5.4 million in comparison to the consumption of traditional services, which decreased to 2.5 million. Additionally, 53% of the submitted applications are now completed in one day or less. The rapid increase of online transactions has a strong and vital environmental impact if we consider the amount of traffic, air pollution an energy consumption reduced. This can be directly linked to the SDG of sustainable cities and communities.
• Efforts in service transformation and progress monitoring have become accumulative. The complexity of Service transformation has become manageable. Within only one year from the launch of MARSAD, the number of interactive services has increased by 10%, transactional services by 12% and transformational services by 42%. A total of 200 services has increased its maturity in only 1 year. Up-to-date, the initiative has managed to transform multiple traditional services to online services. Currently, online services make 89% of the total number of services. This allows all society segments to acquire a majority of government services from anywhere and this is a major inclusion for vulnerable society groups, especially if we consider the vast geographic area of the kingdom and its very specific culture.
• MARSAD is meanwhile a valuable source of information that is used in multiple ways from a diversity of systems and from all agencies, citizen, academic bodies and Saudi media. The development of national strategies rely on MARSAD, Anti-Corruption committee relies on MARSAD and the annual e-Government measurement initiative also relies on MARSAD. All these is vital to a sustainable economic growth, social justice and attraction of international investments.
| 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The MARSAD initiative faced some minor obstacles and major ones. Among the major obstacles, there were the following:
• Changing the traditional processes by introducing a paradigm shift is services definition, delivery and maturity.
• Convincing government entities to re-work all their services as per the new standards and filter them to what is agreed on as a service.
• Allocating proper resources from government entities to attend MARSAD workshops, lead the services re-formulation in the respective department and update the services continuously.
To defy these challenges and get the government entities to cooperate, a diversity of change management practices has been used:
• Continuous communication and awareness campaigns: A series of workshops, events, trainings, visits and face-to-face meetings were conducted to highlight the MARSAD long run benefits and encourage the entities to cooperate. Weekly emailing has been broadcasted to 160 government entities to raise awareness and provide support and assistance. Furthermore, a 24/7 hotline has been introduced to enable new users of MARSAD solution to use it properly and comply with standards and guidelines.
• Stakeholder benefits: in the design and implementation phase of MARSAD, the team has considered very well the benefits that each stakeholder group can gain from MARSAD. This benefit-driven approach allowed different stakeholders to value MARSAD as a comprehensive solution that would benefit them on different levels including performance, ROI, transparency, modernization among others.
• Sponsorship: The involvement of the Ministry Council as a sponsor for the initiative has had a great impact in terms of holding government entities accountable for the integrity and accuracy of their respective services published through MARSAD.
• Governance: Following a rigorous approach towards governance and validation of MARSAD content has reduced the workload on government entities and encouraged them to always strive for better quality