Well planned and focused application of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) can greatly enhance the performance of relatively complex and huge organisations. It can enable governments to increase management effectiveness, improve productivity and ultimately, enhance the quality of the services offered to the citizens. While there is no doubt that ICT can offer many benefits yet there are still some concerns as well as problems regarding its implementation in public departments.
Benefits of Introducing ICT in Governments:
Following lines explain some of the most important benefits of introducing ICT in governments.
- E-Governments facilitate common citizens to interact with government agencies rather easily and effectively.
- It reduces the amount of efforts for both organisations and citizens.
- The use of ICT also helps civil agencies and servants to do a better job.
- It also enables easy access to correct and trustworthy information.
- The introduction of ICT in governments expedites processing and integration of information.
- It also facilitates the documentation and archiving of actions and decisions taken during a certain period of time.
- It also enables authorities to better monitor the work done.
Key Problems in Implementation ICT in Governments:
As discussed above, there are many problems governments have to face while implementing ICT in its subsidiary departments and agencies. For instance, a lot has been written about how employees and even executives resist change or hesitate to embrace it in their organisations and governments are no exception. The introduction of ICT requires change in working style as well as organisational culture. ICT brings in new procedures, processes and new forms of collaborations.
Similarly, ICT demands the upper management to acquire new forms of controls to manage all these changes effectively. People normally find it very difficult to discard traditional working style in favour of new methods and techniques, practically hindering the use of ICT in governments.
It is also pertinent to note that ICT often fails to produce desired results because there is an increased opposition against learning initiatives in public organisations. Furthermore, public sector employees usually like to work independently and often resist monitoring which is an integral part of ICT. In simple terms, ICT is perceived as threat and therefore, every effort is made to prevent it from being implemented. Therefore, there is nothing wrong in saying that ICT in governments may fail or even damage the productivity due to internal resistance.
Some Basic Solutions to the Problem:
Despite all the shortcomings and problems, it is mandatory for governments to implement ICT in their departments in order to enhance their performance and compete with other countries successfully. In this regard, following are some basic solutions to all the above mentioned problems.
- Handle it as a Change Management Project:
Authorities have to handle ICT implementation in governments as a complete change management project. Technology is the minor problem whereas change is the major problem. Unfortunately, 80% of ICT implementation projects are undertaken the opposite way. Higher authorities pay little attention on educating and training people about how to use the new technology. In fact, they can make most of such project successful simply by helping people embrace technology easily and enabling them to understand what is happening around them.
- Change Management Projects are Hard to Complete:
The second major problem in ICT implementation is that change management projects themselves are difficult to complete successfully. In this regard, good and well prepared communication is the key to success. Authorities have to understand how change impacts employees and their working style. They have to anticipate all counter arguments and prepare answers for them. They should also inform people of all the benefits new technology offers in addition with identifying all their problems which technology can resolve.
- Focus on Fear and Necessity:
People usually hesitate to go for the better life because the journey entails many unknown risks. Therefore, there is no point of informing them about the benefits of technology employees of some other organisation are reaping. Behaviour is more influenced by the fear of risks than by ambition to obtain the potential benefits offered. The most convincing reason to change is the necessity to change. Hence, majority of people will be willing to corporate if they understand the necessity.
- Good Communication is Necessary:
Change management requires a process consisting of several steps. In short, the commitment of top management is the first step towards the success. Similarly, the process itself has to address the psychological reasons for the resistance to change.
- Get Support of Large Majority:
It is also a fact that people are controlled by emotions rather than by cognition. Authorities should create a picture which is emotionally capturing for them. They should utilize the techniques of storytelling and visualization to compel people to accept new technology. Similarly, if you make them believe that change will make their lives better, they will be more than pleased to accept it.