Councils face huge workflow challenge
Only one in seven councils has so far fully implemented enterprise workflow within their eGovernment programmes, meaning that to a Whitehall target, most will have to rush through this crucial work at break-neck speed.
Such is the outlook from new data compiled from the latest eGovernment progress reports supplied by councils in England
According to this, 14 per cent of local authorities expected to have fully implemented Priority Service Outcome 'G24', by September 2005.
G24 is one of a number of nationally-set deliverables which councils need to have in place by no later than March 2006.
To achieve this target, authorities need to integrate their customer relationship management systems with their back office, through the use of "enabling technology such as Workflow", in order to create "complete automation of business process management".
In July, when councils submitted the data, just nine per cent reported to have met the outcome, with another 72 per cent hoping to do so by the deadline.
As at September 2005, 78 per cent of authorities planned to be in the process of implementing workflow, while eight per cent expected to be still at the planning stage.
The reports then suggest a surge of frenetic activity as the deadline approaches, with the most rapid period of implementation coming after December 2005.
While only a third of councils anticipate meeting the outcome by end of the year, their forecasts indicate this figure will shoot up to 81 per cent three months later.
This still leaves, however, around one in five councils not expecting to deliver on time.
The Enterprise Workflow National Project (ENWP) exploring workflow implementation, which made the data available, analysed the figures and found that G24 is the second-least implemented outcome, behind single business accounts.
"The results are not unexpected as this was always seen as one of the most challenging outcomes", commented Neil Hind, Project Manager for the ENWP.
"For most councils to meet the requirements they need to be re-engineering services that can be resource and time intensive."
But EWNP add that if G24 is to be implemented correctly, it will mean that business process re-engineering activities will have been carried out on five or six service areas, which they say is 'a major undertaking from both IT and business change aspects'.
Even more of a challenge, they comment, is the integration of back office systems to the business process management and workflow systems that is also expected.
With 67 per cent of councils reporting they will be moving to the ‘implemented’ stage between September and March, the EWNP warn councils not to underestimate the amount of effort required.
"Such business re-engineering will affect the entire organisation, from the IT department, to heads of service down to those delivering the end service", said the project. "Excellent leadership and project management will be required to ensure a successful implementation of the new way of working."