Success and Failure in eGovernment Projects

Assessing eGov Project Risks:
Real-World Design-Reality Example 1

Electronic Networking for a Ministry of Education in East Asia

Case Study Authors

Wei Jing and Richard Heeks


The national Ministry of Education is the apex body in charge of education in the country, employing around 400 staff. It is suffering a loss of staff through retirement and movement to the private sector, yet it needs to improve its operational and strategic effectiveness. Driven by this need, plus the spread of ICTs within government, a networking project has been designed for the Ministry. This will join a series of existing internal and external networks, allowing the ready exchange of documents, messages and ideas. The intended benefits are improved decision-making, and reduced time and financial costs for communication. Key internal stakeholders are the Minister, the other staff of the Ministry, and staff within the Management Data Centre. Key external stakeholders include regional education departments, and all educational institutions in the country.

Risk Assessment Via Design-Reality Gap Analysis

Design-reality gap analysis compares the assumptions/requirements within the application design with the existing reality in the public organisation along seven 'ITPOSMO' dimensions. The larger the gap, the larger the risk for the e-government project. Follow this link for more information on design-reality gap analysis.

Overall Risk Assessment and Recommendation

The overall gap rating total for this design proposal is 28. According to the gap assessment table, this suggests some chance of partial failure of the project unless action is taken. The recommendation was to proceed with the project, but undertaking actions to reduce some of the larger design-reality gaps.

Gap Reduction Actions to Mitigate Project Risks

To mitigate e-government project risks, you first identify those ITPOSMO dimensions with the largest gaps. Then you attempt to reduce those gaps by altering the project design to make it more like current reality and/or by altering current reality to make it more like the project design.

The three largest gaps occur on the objectives and values, staffing and skills, and management systems and structures dimensions. It is these dimensions that should therefore be addressed first.

The proposed risk mitigation actions here were:

  1. Objectives and values dimension . Alter current reality by altering the current incentives and appraisal in order to encourage and reward the sharing of information. Key elements of new human resource practice would include explicit inclusion of information-sharing within the annual performance appraisal, which is linked to pay increments; and a specific scheme to identify and reward (both financially and through recognition) examples of good practice in information sharing and/or knowledge-building.
  2. Staffing and skills dimension . Alter current reality by developing a set of training activities for staff. These will include:
    • Awareness-raising for senior managers about knowledge management, about the value (for them personally as well as for the organisation) of information sharing, and about the challenges in moving to a more open, free-flow culture.
    • Information/knowledge management training for key staff, customised to their particular job content, aiming to enable those staff to make more effective use of information and knowledge in their work.
    • Where necessary, support for development of staff IT skills. It is suggested this be delivered through e-learning packages which not only develop skills but also have a 'medium is the message' impact.
  3. Management systems and structures dimension . Alter the size of individual design-reality gaps by proceeding only incrementally with ideas about cross-organisational teams.
Last updated on 19 October, 2008.
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