Governmentseverywhere are looking for opportunities to do more with less. One approach is tocreate a shared services organization so services canbe consolidated across departments or agencies (the city of Frankfurt is a good example). Private-sector product managers aregreat at this. They’re the master jugglers who are responsible for deliveringthe right products at the right time to the greatest number of customers.
Productmanagers know how to find the sweet spot between features, functionality, cost,and schedule. Their best practices can be applied by public-sector agencies whendeveloping a shared services environment:
1. Know when to say no.
Some productshave a bewildering number of moving pieces and considerable complexity. Productmanagers often address this complexity by demanding consistency and resistingone-off additions. The same tactic canbe used in a consolidated services environment, where a single governmentagency must address a very large number of stakeholder needs. The approach: maximizescarce resources by providing services with the broadest applicability whileminimizing the complexities that often arise from a small number of uniqueneeds. Sometimes this means saying no to highly specialized features that are requiredby a single agency’s program.
2. Scale, scale, scale.
Productmanagers try to create products that are useable by a large audience; customizationoften reduces that audience and adds cost andtime—not only while the product is being developed but throughout its use. Fora great example of how scale can drive efficiencies and cost savings across abroad community, check out our Economicsof the Cloud whitepaper. Scale is one of the most important principles forany group—private or public—that wants to maximize its investment in sharedservices.
3. Empower others.
It can beunnerving to hand the reins of service delivery to a third party. You mightassume that flexibility will evaporate, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Savvyproduct managers know that they can preserve flexibility and increase customerconfidence by providing a range of configuration options on top of theirservices. By including flexibility within their offerings, shared servicesorganizations can provide a consistent foundation while empowering thecommunity to adjust the service to suit their individual needs. In a sense, theend user remains empowered to make use of shared services in a way thatreflects their own perspective and needs.
4. Think platforms.
Theconsistent foundation for a product or a group of services becomes a platform onwhich many line-of-business applications can be assembled. One great example ofthis in the physical product world comes from platform thinking inthe automotive industry. Ford developed the C-Carplatform, which shares design, engineering, and components among 10different cars. This reduces cost and complexity while helping Ford meet avariety of consumer needs. Similarly, the Microsoft CityNext program initiative provides a modern solutions platform thatshared services organizations can use to deliver common services while giving theirstakeholders a consistent foundation for innovation. This foundation providesscalable and repeatable services that will help drive efficiency and economiesof scale within governments.
When sharedservices leaders in the public sector begin to think like private-sector productmanagers, they have a better shot at finding the right balance between features,functionality, cost, and schedule for service delivery. The result: meaningfulsolutions, delivered to the broadest number of constituents in a way that exceedsobjectives for effective and efficient service delivery. It’s a business modelthat makes good sense—for private as well as public entities.
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