Janek Rozov, Head of the Information Society Services Development Department at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications in Estonia, explains how it has introduced a multiple-view service catalogue to improve understanding of services amongst its citizens and allow its Government departments to make informed choices.
Almost all Government services in Estonia are online and, in fact, one of the hardest problems we face is not knowing how many services there really are. At the last count, we had uncovered more than 1,000. Although Estonia is a small country, we have a very complex framework when it comes to service delivery, and we also have some rather unique challenges.
The scope of services in Estonia is almost endless. For example, to ensure cyber security, emails can have a government-backed digital signature and are protected by an encryption code that’s unlocked by a combination of the citizen’s chip-powered national identification card and their secret PIN. Every time one of these emails is sent, it falls within the Government’s service remit and, as you can imagine, there are a lot of emails!
A further challenge is around the ownership of services and the responsibility for ensuring their quality. The structure of our Government means this accountability lies with each ministry and secretary general, most of whom do not have a professional background in IT and, ultimately, find it difficult to identify what ‘good’ looks like. There is also no legal obligation on the quality and upkeep of these services.
Creating a service catalogue
To address these challenges, we have now created a service catalogue with multiple views for different stakeholders. We have four views in total: one end user version for citizens and entrepreneurs; a statistical view for service owners and managers, and two machine-readable views, one of which is used as an input for the development of ICT policies.
Getting to this point has been a struggle, but we have now mapped all services, and we have our first approved view for customers.
Seeing the impact of change
The benefits of the service catalogue are already clear. For citizens, our customer view aids transparency – they can see the tools and services available, and how their Government is spending money. Then, having a statistics-led view of our service catalogue has helped our organization to understand where we are in terms of quality, and how we can develop and improve the ICT framework.
With this view, our staff can see what happens when they change something in an internal process or information system, and how it might affect customer experience. They can compare the ‘as is’ situation with the ‘to be’, and calculate if there will be additional benefits. Based on this, we can then decide how and where to invest money to make the most impact.
Developing and improving
While we have come quite far, there is still a lot to do, and we are constantly working on improving our service catalogue. Our next step will be to create a view that enables us to see the impact of change in real time, and what it means day-to-day for both our customers, and our operational staff across all the ministries.
We have also made some key steps to improve ownership within each ministry by appointing one ‘responsible person’ for service quality. Our team has been working closely with each representative to help them understand what service quality really means, and we have also brought in private sector experts to get additional advice and help future proof our offer. Each month we meet to share ideas and best practice, and commit to the next steps to achieve it.
There is no doubt that creating our first service catalogue has been a huge task but, now that it’s in place, it allows our organization to make informed decisions and ensure we’re providing reliable, useful and relevant services to our citizens.
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