SITA (State IT Agency) has put together a new strategy for the next three years that it hopes will enable it to improve government service delivery.
With a R500-million infrastructure investment in 2008, the company is pursuing a seven-point plan over the next period.
CEO Lllewellyn Jones says the last three years at SITA have been focused on "fixing" the organisatiom, but there's still a lot more that can be done.
The first four strategic imperatives are externally-focused and deal with infrastructure optimisation; modernisation of public service operations; reduction of costs; and an extended service footprint.
In terms of infrastructure optimisation, Jones explains that many of the systems currently run by SITA and used by government departments have been running for the nine-and-a-half years of SITA's existence.
"We will have a fundamental look at each one, find out what the customer needs and wants, and examine the delivery models," he says.
"We also need to look at our cost and pricing models.
"We need to measure how well we are doing and get to the point of SLAs and implementation plans."
Although the whole infrastructure optimisation project will probably take the best part of three years to complete, Jones says it will get underway within the next few months.
The modernisation of public service operations is in line with the concept of e-government and revolves around making government services accessible and convenient.
"We will play our part in helping government move to where they should be," says Jones. "We think we can make quantum jumps in the way services are delivered."
Reducing costs is important, he says, because services need to be affordable. Some of the drivers behind cost reduction include shared services models, standardisation, negotiating better across-the-board licencing agreements, the use of open source software, and better process initiatives.
An extended service footprint would include more levels of government within SITA's ambit of operations.
Jones says the organisation currenlty services mainly national and provincial government – and for only about 30% of its IT spend. It intends to take responsibility for a larger share of the ICT spend, and to start addressing the needs of local government as well, especially the small or medium municipalities.
The other three strategic imperatives are internally-focused. They are developing people, achieving operational excellence and improving financial sustainability.
People development is probably the most important of these. Jones says its important to recruit and retain the best people, while training and motivating staff.
"We are also responsible to the community at large," says Jones. "An example is our very big internship programme. We are co-operating with government to ensure an increase in the number of trained ICT professionals so that we can become a knowledge economy."
The sixth imperative is to achieve operational excellence. "There are a number of projects on the go," says Jones. "We want to go from a six-and-a-half out of 10 to the eight or nine out of 10 that we need to be."
These projects aim to help deliver services through managed processes in a shorter time and predictable expectations.
Financial sustainability is the final strategic imperative the SITA is striving for. Jones explains that, although it is an agency of the government, it is a Pty Ltd company and as such needs to be profitable.
One subject that's been discussed around the board table at SITA, but didn't make it on to the final list of strategic imperatives is that of developing an indigenous industry.
"We remain very focused on this," says Jones. "We onviously need to buy the best technology in the world, but we also need to work with South African companies – not just to meet our own needs but to develop an export-focused industry as well."