everywhere are looking for opportunities to do more with less. One approach is to
create a shared services organization so services can
be consolidated across departments or agencies (the city of Frankfurt is a good
example). Private-sector product managers are
great at this. They’re the master jugglers who are responsible for delivering
the right products at the right time to the greatest number of customers.
managers know how to find the sweet spot between features, functionality, cost,
and schedule. Their best practices can be applied by public-sector agencies when
developing a shared services environment:
1. Know when to say no.
have a bewildering number of moving pieces and considerable complexity. Product
managers often address this complexity by demanding consistency and resisting
one-off additions. The same tactic can
be used in a consolidated services environment, where a single government
agency must address a very large number of stakeholder needs. The approach: maximize
scarce resources by providing services with the broadest applicability while
minimizing the complexities that often arise from a small number of unique
needs. Sometimes this means saying no to highly specialized features that are required
by a single agency’s program.
2. Scale, scale, scale.
managers try to create products that are useable by a large audience; customization
often reduces that audience and adds cost and
time—not only while the product is being developed but throughout its use. For
a great example of how scale can drive efficiencies and cost savings across a
broad community, check out our Economics
of the Cloud whitepaper. Scale is one of the most important principles for
any group—private or public—that wants to maximize its investment in shared
3. Empower others.
It can be
unnerving to hand the reins of service delivery to a third party. You might
assume that flexibility will evaporate, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Savvy
product managers know that they can preserve flexibility and increase customer
confidence by providing a range of configuration options on top of their
services. By including flexibility within their offerings, shared services
organizations can provide a consistent foundation while empowering the
community to adjust the service to suit their individual needs. In a sense, the
end user remains empowered to make use of shared services in a way that
reflects their own perspective and needs.
4. Think platforms.
consistent foundation for a product or a group of services becomes a platform on
which many line-of-business applications can be assembled. One great example of
this in the physical product world comes from platform thinking in
the automotive industry. Ford developed the C-Car
platform, which shares design, engineering, and components among 10
different cars. This reduces cost and complexity while helping Ford meet a
variety of consumer needs. Similarly, the Microsoft
CityNext program initiative provides a modern solutions platform that
shared services organizations can use to deliver common services while giving their
stakeholders a consistent foundation for innovation. This foundation provides
scalable and repeatable services that will help drive efficiency and economies
of scale within governments.
services leaders in the public sector begin to think like private-sector product
managers, they have a better shot at finding the right balance between features,
functionality, cost, and schedule for service delivery. The result: meaningful
solutions, delivered to the broadest number of constituents in a way that exceeds
objectives for effective and efficient service delivery. It’s a business model
that makes good sense—for private as well as public entities.
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