Government Transformation in Singapore

Here is an excerpt from a document that was recently published, it explains some of the focus areas and principles that the Government of Singapore (Ministry of Family) is considering throughout their digital government transformation.  The ideas are very relevant to governments involved in digital transformation.

Why Digitization is Important

Rising citizen expectations
Optimise cost of service delivery
Digital Technologies (present new opportunities), government transformation is needed to keep pace with rising expectations

Focus Area 1 – Citizen-centric service experience

Be obsessed with your users. Understand their needs, not just based on what they say. Focus on user experience, not only the user interface. The user experience should be end-to-end, covering physical and digital touch points.

Focus Area 2 – Pro-business service experience

Businesses frequently interact with the government mainly for regulations or for partnerships, they are demanding government transformation.  By creating business-centric services and lowering the barrier to operating a business in Singapore, this will foster a more vibrant and competitive economy. The government needs to review existing service models with businesses and leverage digital technologies to create a pro-business service experience.

Focus Area 3 – Engaged Community

Digital technologies open up opportunities for the community to be more connected, engaged and involved. Through the use of digital platforms to connect Government and citizens, as well as citizens with fellow citizens, a “digital kampung” spirit is kindled by bringing people together to help each other. This fosters a sense of belonging in the community and enables greater social cohesion.

Focus Area 4 – Operational Excellence

Operational excellence involves optimizing and transforming business processes and operations. It is not only about doing more with less. It is about effectiveness, not just efficiency. It requires a review and redesign of various aspects of operations, in the face of tech disruption. Don’t just automate manual processes, think about achieving full government transformation through improving processes and operations through the innovative use of technology, potentially moving towards zero-ops where minimal or no human intervention is required. Find synergies across teams, organizational units, agencies and external partners.

Principle 1 Think Simple

Simplify services and streamline processes to serve citizens effectively. Organisations need to review all the processes and interfaces to identify areas that can be simplified. Simplicity is not simple – it requires the good judgment of what really matters, and a bold decision to focus on them. Resist the temptation and old belief of needing to be “comprehensive,” as it does not always enhance user experience.

Principle 2 Be agile & iterate

With rising expectations for faster delivery and increasing number of digital natives in our population, Government transformation needs to be agile and highly adaptive. Take an outside-in, iterative approach in developing services, starting first with a minimum viable product (MVP), and improve progressively with feedback to get to the final implementation. New features will be prioritized and progressively added in each iteration. Being agile will require user executives to be fully involved in the design and development process along with tech developers.

Principle 3 – Co-develop and co-deliver with Citizens

Government does not always have the best answers to all the issues. Involve stakeholders to co-create the solutions. Beyond ideation at Hackathons, digital technologies such as open data APIs make it easier for citizens to build applications that could benefit them, as well as help, solve some of the problems Government faces. Digital platforms have also made it possible to mobilize citizens to co-deliver services to the community they belong. Co-developing and co-delivering with citizens catalyze innovation beyond Government transformation and empower citizens in new ways.

Principle 4 -Partner with External Organizations

Partnering with external organizations helps tap into capabilities, resources, and talent beyond the public sector. Such collaborations will enable development of new products and services, and enhancements of existing ones. Digital platforms are needed for connection to external organizations.  Government can own such digital platforms or connect to platforms operated by other organizations.

Principle 5 Collect, Share and Use Data

Collect useful data to ask the correct questions and make better-informed decisions. Sharing meaningful data enables Government agencies to collectively offer a more citizen-centric service delivery. Analyse and use the data insights to make better, “smarter” and quicker decisions to drive policy, planning, service delivery and operational excellence.

Principle 6 Leverage Common Platforms

Accelerate product delivery by leveraging government tech stacks for common services, platforms, and infrastructure. The government tech stack comprises common tech building blocks that let you integrate easily, reuse many times and build applications securely. Similarly, reuse WOG standard products and solutions without having to re-invent the wheel.

Principle 7 Foster a digital DNA

Digital transformation requires a mindset and cultural change within the organization, emphasizing values such as agility, boldness, innovation, and collaboration. Top leadership plays an important role in driving and sustaining this cultural change, fostering the values amongst all the people in the organization, and embedding them into every aspect of work.

Principle 8 Integrate Ops and Tech

Tighter integration between Operations and Technology is essential for digital government transformation. An agency’s Ops can include frontline/backend operations and business processes. Ops-Tech integration needs to begin from the early stages of planning and conceptualization. Digital initiatives should be jointly managed, executed and owned by both Ops and Tech teams. Ops-Tech integration can enable new business models by bringing together operational considerations and new technological possibilities.

Principle 9 Manage Change and Drive Adoption

With new digital products and services, Government transformation programs cannot assume that mere implementation will ensure public adoption. To help citizens and businesses embrace the new products/services, there should be public communications and campaigns to raise awareness, and demonstration of clear benefits of these new products/services. Work within the organization should also be adjusted to support the new ways of delivering the digital products and services.

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