Embedding ICT into government business processes

IN this Information age, the use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) to facilitate automation of business processes in public institutions is no exception.

Indeed, ICT has become a vital tool for creativity and innovation and a catalyst for increasing efficiency and effectiveness in business operations as well as improving public service delivery.

For that matter, the use of ICT in Public Institutions’ operations is inevitable in order to reap maximum benefits and to align and fit into this world of connected economy.

Over a long period of time, ICT has become a major pillar of business not only in the private sector but also in governments, as it has been embedded in the processes in many ways with government officials possessing a profound know-how about their business processes and the enabling ICT infrastructure.

Moreover, the importance of embedding ICT in Public Institutions has also been emphasized in the World Summit of Information Society (WSIS) that was also attended by the African Heads of States and Governments in Geneva in December 2003. The summit had a theme of “ensuring ICT works for the betterment of the general public and foster development.”

“A new Tanzania is coming in the near future,” this were some of the words of President John Magufuli in his new message whereas he challenged Tanzanians particularly Civil Servants to be innovative and creative to ensure that what is envisioned becomes reality.

Moreover, the importance of embedding ICT into Government’s business processes, hard work, due diligence as well as innovativeness were reiterated by Her Excellency, Deputy Minister of State - President’s Office, Public Service Management and Good Governance Dr Mary Mwanjelwa (MP) during her official visit to e-Government Agency, Dar es Salaam Zonal Office.

She urged all staff to be fully committed and ensure that they innovate systems and modernize working approaches in order to improve Government business processes that will stimulate country’s socioeconomic development.

Being a technology driven institution, Agency’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr Jabiri Bakari, informs that eGA has turned the call of using ICT into reality by designing, developing and operationalizing various information systems for its own use or as shared amongst Public Institutions, which in turn lead to realization of Agency’s vision, mission and accomplishment of objectives, which also fulfils Fifth Government’s dream of insuring automation of all Government business processes, for efficient revenue collection and public services delivery.

“It is the Agency’s role to embark on innovations in order to provide e-government solutions, as direct services or products in form of ICT systems,” Informs Dr Bakari. Dr Bakari informs that one of home-grown ICT systems is Enterprise Resources Management Suite (ERMS), which is a newly developed system for managing and automating (end-to-end) internal business operations of an institution, composed of interdependent business functions (modules) that provides an integrated view of business operations and seamless data processing and sharing across departments and sections.

He adds that ERMS is initially designed and developed for e- Government Agency but it has been made flexible enough to be customized for use by any other Public Institution.

“Our focus was a single window system that could connect and integrate various business functions of a typical Public Institution with the intention of improving operational efficiency and effectiveness, while cutting operational costs and rendering quality public services,” said Dr Bakari Adding; “At its most basic level, the envisaged system integrates various functions into one system with streamlined processes that share information across the institution.” eGA CEO was of suggestion that implementation of ERMS helps to optimize resource utilization, provide efficiency and effectiveness in operations and reduce paper work.

It has18 modules namely; Planning, Budgeting, Accounts, Client Management, Service Management, Billing, HR Manager, Leave Management, Project Management, Task Manager, Procurement Management, Asset Management, Facility Management, Fleet Management, User Management, Manage Institution, Application Manager and Report.

He further elaborates the modules available in ERMS starting with the Planning Module which is used for presenting forecasted activities for the subsequent year implementation and accomplishment of institution’s strategic objectives and goals.

The module facilitates prioritization of targets of the respective objectives and it is also used by heads of departments in preparing the forecasted activities.

ERMS also contains the Budgeting Module, which provides a platform for handling funds in accordance with the planned activities for the subsequent year.

The module facilitates costing of the activities and provides visibility of the budget items to the users (i.e. for each activity prioritized) for implementation. Furthermore, it facilitates allocation and reallocation of funds against respective budget items.

It has six (6) sub-modules which are Fund Source, Revenue Projection, Expenditure Projection, Fund Management and Settings, explains Dr Bakari. Exploring more on the modules, Dr Bakari describes on Accounts Module as the module that provides a platform for keeping records of funds received and spent in accordance with requirements of the provisions of the Public Finance laws and institutional operating procedures.

He adds that the module also facilitates keeping of various accounting records and preparation of various financial reports in accordance with the International Public Sectors Accounting Standards (IPSAS). Moreover, the module has seven (7) submodules which are Expenses, Debit and Credit Memos, Revenue, Cash Advancement, Cash Management, Other Adjustments and Settings.

There is also a Client Management Model which is used for keeping and maintaining clients’ records by adding or editing clients’ information while Service management is used for managing services provided by the Institution to its clients.

It also shows product catalog and product cost. The module has 4 submodules which are Service catalog, Products, Service Request, Service Subscription and Settings informs.

Another module is Billing, He says it is used for analyzing and calculating service charge for services requested by clients, while HR Manager is used for facilitating management of human resource for an institution including maintaining HR basic records such as employee details and provides various HR reports.

He adds that another module is Leave management that facilitates the HR officer to process ‘out of office’ applications, granting or rejecting permission with reasons and monitoring the granted permissions, which includes annual leaves, sick leave, local travels, as well as for personal issues and for maintaining leave roaster.

There is also Project Management Module, which is used for keeping records of projects implemented during the period under review, showing their status (in progress or completed), monitoring implementation and assigning activities to the individuals.

In addition, there is Task Manager Module, which is specifically for managing implementation of planned activities and facilitates monitoring and tracking of daily performance of the individual staff.

It also facilitates task assignment and performance evaluation and appraisal. He explains. Another module is Procurement Management Module that facilitates implementation of procurement activities of an institution by providing a platform to track the implementation of procurement activities from the beginning to the end in accordance with the requirements of provisions of the Public Procurement Act and Its regulations.

It also has in built features that facilitate preparation of annual procurement plans, management of procured assets, management of vendor relationships and integration with National e-Procurement System.

Moreover, Asset Management module provides a platform for managing assets held and used by an institution. It tracks asset lifecycle by monitoring their condition, location and application of depreciation rate for each respective asset.

Facility Management facilitate recording and maintaining the operations of Institution’s facilities (cooling system, fire suppression system, buildings, meeting rooms etc.) held and used by an institution, including conditions, maintenance schedule and cost.

Fleet Management module facilitates keeping of record for each motor vehicle and motor cycle including maintenance, repair and replacement records, responsible driver and officer for each vehicle as well as enabling staff to request vehicle for official duties.

User Management Module provides a platform for keeping and assigning roles and rights to the individuals authorized to use the system. On the other hand, the Manage Institutions Module provides a platform for keeping information about institutions.

It facilitates maintenance (adding or editing) of institution information. “We can say that ERMS is developed as a part of innovation for improving government’s service operations, reducing transactional costs, attaining optimal resource utilization, increasing transparency, enabling participatory governance, accountability, reliability and trustworthiness, hence improving public services to foster growth and development of our country,” affirmed the eGA CEO.

eGA Director for ICT Management Systems, Eng. Benedict Ndomba went further saying that ERMS provides a customizable dashboard that Accounting Officers and other users of the system can access and generate various reports in accordance with their requirements, ranging from periodic financial statements, itemized budgets, fund balances, status of resources usage, employees performance appraisals, all of which facilitate operational and management decisions.

Designed with integration and scalability in mind, ERMS can virtually integrate and share data with any other information system.

In that view, ERMS is “data sharing-ready” with other Government information systems such as Central Accounting System, Human Capital Management Information System (HCMIS), Government e-Payment Gateway (GePG), Government Mailing System (GMS), Government e-Office, etc.

It is modular or scalable in such a way that modules can be added or detached from the main system without affecting other modules. Eng Ndomba was of objective that the module supports a multiple of hardware platforms and some third party add-ons.

It maintains consistent look and feel across modules that make it a user friend and ultimately reduces training cost.

Implementation of ERMS, explains the depth of our digital governance experience of internally developed ICT expertise, which also sheds a light of hope and prosperity of future of our e-government implementation.

An effective way of implementing e-government initiatives requires a systematic way to re-engineer operational business processes, which in turn enhances operational efficiency along with improving quality of services.

Optimistically, Dr Bakari urges the Public Institutions to spearhead the use of ICT in their daily undertakings since it is a bridge that will take our country to higher levels of industrial development that will lead to a sustainable socio-economic development, bearing in mind that all sectors of economy, such as transport, finance, agriculture, health and education, all require creativities and innovations in ICT.

Dr Bakari commends all Public Institutions that have embraced the use of homegrown ICT solutions that directly address their institutional requirements, which have less development cost and time, easy adaptability to technological changes, with low total cost of ownership (i.e. licence, security and maintenance etc.).

He urges Public Institutions to continue implementing ICT solutions while adhering to e-Government standards and guidelines, which are available on e-Government Agency’s website (https://www.ega.go.tz// standards) “All we need is relevant skills, confidence and focus on quality results. eGA will continue to provide e-government advisory and technical support to Public Institutions.”

JULIUS Mugasha (52) a resident of Butulage village ...

Author: DAILY NEWS Reporter

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