Process Powered E-Gov: Does Your Agency Grok Process

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Peter Fingar is an Executive Partner in the digital strategy firm, the Greystone Group. He is one of the industry’s noted experts on business process management and a practitioner with over 30 years of hands-on experience at the intersection of business and technology.

Peter Fingar is an Executive Partner in the digital strategy firm, the Greystone Group. He is one of the industry’s noted experts on business process management and a practitioner with over 30 years of hands-on experience at the intersection of business and technology. He is coauthor of the books: "The Real-Time Enterprise: Competing on Time", just-released, and "Business Process Management: The Third Wave."

Fingar began his presentation by pointing out that government and business are essentially similar in that they both:

  • Have customers to serve
  • Need a high quality of service
  • Need to tear down stovepipes of information to be more effective
  • Need to harness the Net to improve service
  • Need to invest in innovation
  • Have a mandate to do more with less
  • Need Business Process Management to achieve the above
  • Fingar said the new flat world means that our competition is now worldwide. He quoted Tom Friedman from the New York Times, "In China, Bill Gates is Britney Spears. In America, Britney Spears is Britney Spears." This is leading to what Fingar calls the "Global Innovation Wars" and "Process-based Competition," that other countries are presently more dedicated to winning.

    The next source of competitive advantage is "Time-Based Competition." According to Fingar, this the biggest paradigm shift we have experienced in decades. Companies must change the way they do business, or lose to those who master the tools for time-based competition. Fingar repeated that another term for time-based competition is "process-based" competition, because business processes are, "… the complete, end-to-end, dynamically coordinated sets of collaborative and transactional activities that deliver value to customers."

    This doesn't just mean that government forms are now available on the Internet. It means using technology to provide the actual services. BPM can enable government agencies to drop bureaucratic divisions by cutting inefficiency through faster, auditable processes that allow employees to do more in less time.

    Fingar cited the example of FirstGov, which is a one-stop, easy-to-use portal to all government online services. It allows citizens to conduct business without needing to know which agency or department provides the service. Fingar says that e-government works, but only $8M has been allocated of the $100M that is needed. E-Gov projects have almost no sponsors, because it would benefit everybody and there is no political benefit. Legislators would have to deny some of their own pet projects to fund it.

    The old model for IT is cost-based competition and includes:

  • Automate data processing
  • Doing things right
  • Systems-of-record
  • Commoditized best-practices
  • Bodies in chairs
  • The new IT will be time-based competition and will include:

  • Automate value-delivery systems
  • Doing the right things
  • Systems-of-process
  • Unique, best-of-breed, "next practices"
  • Agility to execute on strategy
  • Fingar says that the implications for IT professionals are profound. A system-wide view of the company is needed in order for any significant BPM project to succeed, and IT professionals have that view more than those in marketing, sales, legal or other specialists within the company. BPM skills now outweigh technical skills. If IT professionals don't step up to the BPM plate, they will lose out.

    Fingar says that Japan has already made the commitment to become the most advanced IT nation, and we cannot afford to fall behind in this effort. We are already in a New World Order of extreme competition and we need to get with it. Process is the key to competition in this new world.

    Peter Fingar recently spoke on this topic at a recent BrainStorm's Business Process Management Conference.

    Jon Huntress

    Special Events Correspondent

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