Opinion
November 7, 2012

Alberta’s “distinct” service coordination initiative

Quote of the week

“IT is leading in the advance of [open government] across Canada.”

— Michelle D’Auray, Secretary of the Treasury Board

Editor’s Corner

At the GTEC Distinction Awards Monday night, there was ample cause for celebration as awards were handed out in federal, provincial and municipal categories. The theme of the conference this year is “Collaborating and innovating: making a difference for Canadians.”

And while it is tempting to try to review all winners, let me focus on one provincial one, the ICT Service Coordination Initiative award that was won by Service Alberta’s Enterprise Services. Ron Boehm, the executive director, Service Delivery and Support, spoke to a workshop about this project.

The project was a service coordination initiative that took a whole-of-government approach with the consolidation of cross-departmental IT processes and standards. Clear goals were to improve service and save money.

Service Alberta began by collaborating with departments and vendors on the RFP. This made sure that all players – departmental clients and service providers – were in sync.

The initiative itself is service oriented in its application: there are ongoing surveys of client satisfaction based on agreed upon service levels. Boehm noted that one lesson learned was that there is a tendency to create too many service standards.

This is not surprising. Typically, when departments lose a function to another provider, they are afraid of losing control of the service. So they will try to get ironclad service improvement through detailed service level agreements. If parties aren’t careful, the result can be complex and unmanageable service level agreements that help neither party.

The data suggests that overall clients are happy with the shared service approach. Boehm noted that not all departments are participating, nor are they obligated to. This reminds one of a U.K. study of shared services that found that the scope of savings anticipated was not what was expected, in part because ministries were not forced to join.

GTEC continues this week. A highlight will be the Deputy Ministers panel on Thursday morning at 9:00 am.

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