With local government’s capacity for service delivery dependent on the availability of effectively-functioning technology systems, it is critical that investments in enabling infrastructure are protected and enhanced to assist government in its mission to accelerate service delivery for all citizens.
That’s according to Isaac Mophatlane, group executive: public sector at Business Connexion. “Service delivery is a core focus for government on a national scale,” he says.
“However, at local government level there are several challenges with 165 local councils out of a total of 284 having limited capacity for service delivery. Furthermore, a total of 212 local councils are faced with financial constraints.”
Addressing this state of affairs has become a priority for national government, which is in the process of implementing a plan dubbed “Project Consolidate”.
Mophatlane explains: “Project Consolidate is aimed at forging public/private partnerships and draws on the expertise of the private sector to address the issues of revenue enhancement, customer relationship management and skills shortages, which in many instances are at the heart of service delivery challenges at local government level.”
He adds that the ability of councils to bill for services and collect revenues is of primary concern. “Collecting funds goes hand in hand with improving service delivery. Payment for services enables government to extend these services to more people.”
Mophatlane adds that while local municipalities are cash-strapped, they are still being pressure by suppliers to rip out and replace their existing systems – which is not necessarily always the answer to the problem.
He stresses that suppliers must remember that service delivery is the goal and that the systems that enable management are effectively a means to that end.
“In many cases, existing systems have value to offer and are able to support the business processes of the municipality. Such systems should be preserved unless there is a considerable advantage to be gained from implementing a more modern solution.”
Mophatlane describes the “rip and replace” approach as somewhat narrow. “The reality is that effective management of service delivery, including billing and collections, is not solely dependent on the ERP system. People and processes are of equal consequence and a new system could have the effect of alienating staff familiar with the previous solution.”
Commenting on solutions for the management of service delivery at local government level, Mophatlane says there has been a shift and these are becoming process- rather than function-driven.
“Workflow-orientated, process-driven systems offer a greater level of integrity. You cannot have the same controls in a function-driven system,” he says.
This shift in approach is a fundamental contributor to improving the management of service delivery as it allows local councils to identify bottlenecks and efficiency issues and address them.
He adds that service-orientated architecture (SOA) also applies, allowing local councils to avoid capital expenditure projects by focusing investment on problem areas.
“Technology suppliers must remember that improving service delivery is about spending the government budget on the people. Avoiding rip and replace approaches that lay the blame for poor service delivery on technology systems allows local councils to leverage previous investments while solving real problems.”