According to a new report from Accenture, governments driven by the need to use public money more efficiently are realising the benefits of a holistic, coordinated public service delivery through shared front-office services.
The report entitled, “Sharing Front-Office Services―The Journey to Citizen-Centric Delivery,” sets out the findings from a broad study of front-office shared service initiatives in which two or more agencies work together to jointly deliver services to citizens. The report contains detailed case studies of different types of front-office shared service initiatives that represent a range of service areas around the world.
“Traditionally, public service agencies have served citizens from within the agencies’ own narrow service boundaries, but pursuing excellence within individual agencies’ operational ‘silos’ is no longer enough,” says Monica Rubombora, senior executive at Accenture’s Institute for Health & Public Service Value. “Front-office shared services represent an opportunity for government agencies to respond to their citizens’ demands for public services by taking a coordinated, holistic approach to delivery.
"Well implemented, these initiatives can transform agencies from separate service organisations into being part of coordinated, citizen-centric approaches to supporting people’s comprehensive needs, driving public value and achieving better social and economic outcomes for citizens.”
The report identifies and explains in detail four broad models of front-office shared services that governments can consider according to what they seek to share and how they seek to share it:
* Collaborative information and assessment systems;
* Collaborative customer interface;
* Networked delivery; and
* Joint delivery.
In the first two models, government agencies share defined functions, systems and even space but not delivery functions. In the second two models multiple government agencies share responsibility for service delivery to customers or users.
All four offer ways of reducing the cost-to-serve (efficiencies for organisations) and the cost-to-be-served (savings for individual users or consumers) while improving the customer experience. Building on the findings of the research, the report sets out a diagnostic framework for leaders wishing to implement change in shared front-office services initiatives, helping guide them on the planning of such changes.
The diagnostic comprises three steps.
Step one prompts change leaders to assess the complexity of the initiative’s intended outcomes in order to identify the appropriate shared services model for their organisation.
Step two guides leaders to consider the scale and nature of the challenges they face and to assess the capacity and capabilities of their agencies to deal with these challenges.
Step three offers a framework for considering the most appropriate implementation journey, along with examples of initiatives that have taken one of the two routes to change: either direct transformational change or an evolutionary approach.
“Regardless of the approach, implementing a shared service initiative is not an easy task. Agencies embarking upon the journey toward greater service integration are faced with a number of critical challenges related to governance, performance management, workforce change, and information sharing and systems,” says Rubombora. “Sometimes this means a more gradual transition in order for agencies to build the competencies to overcome the challenges that can stand in the way of improved outcomes.”