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Since introducing and defining the concept of "Collaborative Outcomes in the Public Sector" in my first Defining Shared Services and Collaborative Outcomes in the Public Sector, we've produced two White Papers that provide detailed, illustrative examples of collaborative outcomes, and describe the technology needed to enable collaborative outcomes. Not surprisingly, SAP's business process platform is such a technology. Furthermore, collaborative outcomes is a thought-leadership platform that distinguishes SAP against our competition in the public service industries.


The execution of collaborative outcomes within the public sector is moving from something occasionally and haphazardly accomplished through informal or manual methods to an approach that is being accomplished in real time, online, via automation and enabling technologies.


This progression is driven by the tremendous potential benefits that collaborative outcomes afford the public sector and its stakeholders. Governments are looking at collaborative outcomes as a way to reduce cost, improve service, and maximize the value they deliver among, between, and outside their organizational boundaries. The emphasis on collaborative outcomes is growing because governments increasingly realize that technology provides the collective power to share information and processes that deliver operational, social, and political benefits. With such enabling technology, governments can break down layers of bureaucracy, deliver responsive services, and ultimately achieve positive collaborative outcomes for their stakeholders.


In our first SAP White Paper – Delivering Public Value, we highlight four illustrative examples of collaborative outcomes. One crosses different levels or segments of government, involving a federal government passport agency and a state government child support agency. Here, a citizen requests a passport renewal for a planned trip abroad. Before processing this passport renewal, the passport agency cross-checks with the family services department in the citizen’s state of residence, specifically the child support enforcement agency. The CSE informs the passport agency that the citizen is a noncustodial mother who owes child support to her ex-husband and has an outstanding warrant for failure to attend a related court hearing. Given this shared information, the passport agency rejects the passport renewal for the woman, who is in fact intending to leave the country permanently. In this case, the federal passport agency accomplishes its mission and desired outcome, which is to issue, renew, or decline passports for citizens. The state child support enforcement agency accomplishes its mission of identifying and pursuing delinquent noncustodial parents to pay back child support.


In our second SAP White Paper – Processes and Architecture, we discuss the needed

technology capabilities to support collaborative outcomes, all of which SAP provides:

  1. A business process platform that includes process-modeling technology so that opportunities for collaborative outcomes can be effectively analyzed, modeled and implemented
  2. Enterprise application software that supports both the core public administrative "back-office" areas of government, along with the various "front-office", constituent-facing services lines of business, such as tax and revenue and public security, for example.
  3. A partner ecosystem that allows different solutions to be integrated
  4. Service-oriented architecture to provide reuse and incremental approach to development, providing faster results with less effort
  5. A means of cataloguing and discovering all available Web services through a repository
  6. Enterprise content management
  7. Enterprise search

There is renewed interest in collaborative outcomes across all levels of government as a way to increase efficiency and productivity while maximizing public value. Within SAP, the topic has gained attention all the way to Henning Kagermann, who has included it in his market-facing presentations - see a recent speech transcript.

In light of rapidly aging and retiring workforces, governments need to attract the next generation of workers who are familiar and used to Wiki's, Blogs, social networking, and related collaborative tools as a way of life. Meanwhile, the complexity of government's mission is increasing, along with citizens demand for transparency. The success of government agencies will hinge on their ability to share and use information and business processes among, between and across organizational boundaries.

Let me know your thoughts on the collaborative outcomes concept and the content in our two new White Papers.  

Shared Services

Shared services IT deployments allow governments to focus their limited resources on value-added activities that are central to their missions, rather than on routine administrative and transactional functions. The end result is improved outcomes at a lower cost for public sector stakeholders, and ultimately, maximized public value.

However, the concept of shared services in the public sector is relatively new. Many governments are interested, but proceeding cautiously. Simply defining "shared services" is often the first step for many governments. Often, the concepts of shared services and consolidation get mixed up and used interchangeably.

Shared Services vs Consolidation

The most commonly accepted definition of shared services, based on extensive interviews with SAP government clients:

"Shared services is a collaborative strategy in which common business functions are concentrated into a semiautonomous entity that has a management structure designed to deliver the same services to different groups within an organization, promote efficiency, value generation, cost savings, and improved service for the customers of the enterprise."

Put another way, a shared services delivery model provides a framework for the public sector to leverage economies of scale through the principle of automation of various public administration (“back-office”) and lines of business (“front-office”) services common to multiple agencies and departments. These services share standard end-to-end business processes and associated enabling technology and are placed into a single governance delivery structure that is customer-focused and performance-managed across time, quality and cost, typically via contractual arrangement.

The key differences between shared services and consolidation are that consolidation focuses on the delivery of IT services by taking existing organizations, services or applications and combining them into a single operation, with cost being the main driver, and no accountability to service quality or to the customer. Services are typically standardized, versus tailored to the customer and there are no performance targets or commitments in place.

Shared services, on the other hand, are customer-driven, versus centrally imposed. Shared services put a governance structure in place, usually in the form of service-level agreements (SLA's), or memorandums of understanding (MOU's). Shared service centers value and use input from customers to continuously improve service delivery and reduce costs.

The benefits of shared services include economies of scale, uniform processes, enhanced service delivery, reduced IT complexity and reduced bureaucracy for front-line employees.

Collaborative Outcomes

A new concept and benefit from shared services deployments is "collaborative outcomes". A collaborative outcome is an outcome that is common to two or more government agencies and a result experienced by stakeholders from this combination of government activities.

Managing for collaborative outcomes is a form of inter-agency, cross-organizational collaboration or joint working where the agencies involved share responsibility for, and actively collaborate, to manage towards a common outcome. An example of a collaborative outcome is between a tax agency and a child support enforcement agency. Take a custodial parent, who has a court order that they will receive child support payments from the non-custodial parent. If the custodial parent is not receiving these payments, they can contact the human / social services agency. This agency can then interface with the tax agency within the same government enterprise. The tax agency confirms the non-custodial parent’s tax obligation, and their wages and/or tax refund is identified and electronically garnished. The system then disperses electronic payment to the custodial parent. In this scenario, the collaborative outcome is the child support agency fulfill payment to the custodial parent (it's core mission), and the tax agency ensures taxpayer compliance (it's core mission).

Download Shared Services Overview

Click this hyperlink to download a more detailed overview of SAP's shared services capabilities. Shared Services Overview

View Webinar on SAP Deployment in Shared Services Model at Gauteng Provincial Government, South Africa

Click this hyperlink to view a Webinar from June 2007 from Gauteng, discussing their deployment of SAP in a shared services approach and the financial, social and political benefits they have achieved. Gauteng Webinar