around the world
are looking for ways
to streamline their
And in today’s tech-obsessed world, that often means
moving them online. In addition to keeping the people happy, full digitization could create cost efficien-cies to the tune of US$1 trillion worldwide, according
to a December 2014 McKinsey & Co. report.
But the path forward is rocky. Conflicting stakeholder requests, fluctuating budgets and sponsors
who change with each election cycle add constant
pressure to these already complex projects. And
frequently, these pitfalls lead to failure.
Consider the U.S. government’s much-heralded
launch of HealthCare.gov, the online health insurance exchange where consumers can compare prices
and enroll in plans. While the website launched on
schedule, users were locked out of the system due
to technical glitches—and portions of the site were
down most of its first month. Or look at the launch
of the U.K. government’s online immigration system, which was supposed to manage immigration
and asylum applications. Persistent delays stymied
the £347 million project, which was abandoned
after three years due to a lack of progress.
Overly ambitious planning and a lack of oversight
have doomed many government IT projects. But
there are also rays of hope. Several recent digitiza-
tion projects have successfully given citizens the
ability to do everything from vote and renew driv-
er’s licenses to report crimes and pay taxes online.
For instance, Estonia’s e-residency project has made
it possible for anyone, even nonresidents, to launch a
business in the country (See case study, page 38). In
Denver, Colorado, USA, the city government launched
a mobile app that lets people make payments, sign
up for service reminders, find property values and
access other services online. And the United Kingdom
recently completed a project to unify 312 government
websites under the Gov.uk domain.
When these kinds of projects are successful, they
often save taxpayers money. For instance, officials
in Denver expect to save US$250,000 per year from
reduced customer service call times alone. But to
realize this potential, project managers must find
a way to rally stakeholders and collaborate across
departments, says Marion Royal, PMP, director
of the government solutions division in the U.S.
General Services Administration Office of Citizen
Services and Innovative Technologies (OCSIT) in
Washington, D.C., USA.
“Everyone is working toward the same goals, and
there are probably lots of experts who could assist
you,” he says. “But they can’t help you if they don’t
know that you need help.”
THE PUBLIC GOOD
Governments are expected to invest in initiatives
that help communities thrive and make life easier.
But given that ROI is not always tied to profits, the
public sector must take a more holistic approach to
define project success. In addition to looking at the
must find a
way to rally
—Marion Royal, PMP,
U.S. General Services
Administration Office of
Citizen Services and Innovative