TRANSFORMATION

Professionalising the public sector requires a unique approach

Dean Davey, Corporate Academy Leader at SizweNtsalubaGobodo
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While the public sector continues to be criticised for its poor management and service delivery, Dean Davey from SizweNtsalubaGobodo, southern Africa’s largest black-owned accounting firm, believes that transforming the local public sector requires high quality citizen-facing service propositions.

While the South African public sector continues to be criticised for its poor management and service delivery, Dean Davey, Corporate Academy Leader at SizweNtsalubaGobodo, southern Africa’s largest black-owned accounting firm, believes that transforming the local public sector requires high quality citizen-facing service propositions, supported by aligned and effective operations, organised around clear accountability.

“The implementation of the e-filing service by SARS is a great example of how a state entity has successfully transformed its image and dramatically improved service delivery. Here it was not only the technology that increased service excellence but rather its client-centred approach where ‘customer centric service’ became the credo of its new service. In addition, client-centredness and service excellence were complemented by the introduction of private sector style performance management and measurement, brand sensitivity and marketing,” he comments.

Davey believes that the underlying problem currently facing the public sector is that departments lack clear Citizen Service Propositions (CSPs) and are not focused on providing the best possible service. “Linked to this is that departmental organisations are not organised in the order to best deliver the CSP and unclear service offerings and ineffective operations mean that cost ‘bloat’ is prevalent across departments,” he adds.

For Davey transformation within the sector will require a unique approach. “An approach is required that is citizen-led in both proposition design and operational alignment. In addition it needs to be colleague driven and focus on collaboration to empower people. Adopting this approach will ensure outcomes are directed towards realising a tangible benefit not only to the organisation but the country as a whole,” he explains.

For Davey key to this approach is its all-encompassing focus on the citizen. “We have developed an approach that focuses on the core services that are required by mandate and works towards developing detailed CSPs that address the product, service and access needs of South African citizens. We believe this sets a clear objective on how these services should be delivered and will give the organisation strategic clarity on where it should be focusing its efforts,” he says.

In addition, Davey believes that professionalising the public sector should start with the process and not the people. “Too often, organisational change initiatives start with restructuring the team or technology overhauls. While these approaches have their place they do not address the fundamental process issues that are constraining the organisation. Here an approach is required that starts with the critical processes needed to achieve the CSP, identifies the technology required to deliver them and only then implements the organisational structure required to support the value-chain,” he emphasises.

Davey says that in his experience a key differentiator to ensure strategy success is strong leadership together with partnering for success. “When it comes to leadership at both governmental level and government organisation level, it is essential to have leaders in place who understand strategy and how to lead strategic transformation. This requires leaders who are able to, and are willing to make the tough decisions.

“These leaders then need to ensure that they foster an approach that encourages partnering so that both parties realise the benefit. “Too much strategy gathers dust because it is not made actionable by detailed design and sound implementation planning. It is important to form a partnership in not only identifying the best course of action but also to realise the full benefit,” he explains.

However, Davey says that empowering people is the ultimate determiner of success. “The success of any transformation programme can be determined by the extent to which its positive impact endures in the organisation. Here it is important to strongly focus on executive ownership, management accountability and organisational development. This will ensure that the change that has been initiated takes root,” he concludes.

 

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