When it comes to citizens and e-access to government services, the aspiration is to deliver a cohesive multi-channel experience. What do I mean? Well, just as private sector businesses do not expect their customers to deal separately with finance, logistics and sales departments, citizens should not have to worry about the way in which tax authorities, social-benefit administration, NHS and children’s services want information to register a new-born child for example. To be effective, e-government needs to stem from the citizen’s point-of-view not the bureaucrat’s.

So, why does my heart sink a little when I hear of citizen access and channel simplification initiatives that are given marketing names such as ‘tell me once’ or ‘one and done’. The goal is right – one call or one web visit should be all that it takes for citizens to provide information and be confident in the knowledge that all appropriate databases and business applications will be updated securely and accurately – but is the marketing slogan really necessary?

The Choosing Channels report produced by Deloitte Consulting last year provides very good insights into the multitude of channels available to citizens and how to optimise their use. One of the more interesting conclusions is that the start point is not necessarily spending more on ICT to improve channel effectiveness. The report recommends a 3-phase approach as follows:

  • Phase 1: Make the most of existing resources and focus on improvements in working practices. (Deloitte calculate that 15-25% savings can be achieved from well-managed channel optimisation)
  • Phase 2: Analyse and redefine channel strategy. (Re-invest the savings from Phase 1 to achieve this)
  • Phase 3: Execute the redefined channel strategy. (Prepare to iterate back to Phase 1 as there will be scope for further optimisation and cost-savings)

The journey from i-government to e-government is complex and risky. It will mean redesigning and joining up back-office processes and IT systems but the efficiencies and potential cost-per-transaction savings are significant, as discussed in in my recent i-government blog.

Posted by Ian