Nasir Abdalla Ali Alobeidli, corporate strategy specialist at the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), sheds light on the role of strategy planning and KPI in the future of public service and how governments can provide services that ensure people’s happiness and quality of life.
- What are the key trends that have shaped the public sector in recent years?
In general, the whole world has gone through global changes that had a significant impact on the business environment, whether in the Middle East or in the whole world. As we go through the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on business continuity, which significantly contributed to directing many organizations to apply the institutional resilience approach to ensure agility. Also, real-time measures and indicators to monitor the various developments affecting the business environment and its sustainability were used.
It can also be said that technological development has taken an accelerating curve in appearing on the ground, which has become evident through the digital transformation in government services, for example. This has also led to the emergence of various technical developments, such as virtual reality, metaverse technologies, and artificial intelligence. It’s safe to say that this change has contributed to an increase in the need to promote digital maturity at the institutional level as a whole and on the quality of life in general.
The changes in the nature of business and the start of transformation in business models have become a reality that we live in today, as most of our meetings take place online, anywhere and at any time.
Technology has not only contributed to the development of mobility systems to become more easy and efficient, but its development has led to the emergence of new modes of mobility that we have not seen before, such as flying taxis, transportation through Hyperloop. We have witnessed during the recent period a great interest in climate issues and environmental issues as a whole, which require us to be ready for what we could face in terms of the challenges or opportunity associated with it. Finally, we are in a rapidly changing world that is subject to various variables, and innovation has been and still is the biggest motive for all variables.
- What do the public services of the future look like?
As we mentioned previously, government services are generally on technical manifestations so that they are available electronically. With its world-class resources, the UAE aims to develop proactive, interdependent, and integrated government services that prioritize people’s happiness and improve their quality of life.
I believe that we will not only stop at this point, but that we will witness a reformulate the general concept of service to be as close as possible to the best experience in government services, through the application of artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies and the provision of virtual centers through Metaverse technology to provide services and support closer to reality.
All of this is the future. We do not know its secrets, but we are fully aware that government services will undoubtedly be proactive, flexible and technologically advanced in accordance with standards of efficiency and effectiveness.
- What role will strategy planning and KPI usage play in this futuristic scenario?
It is very important during the current stage of the strategy and performance units to embrace the development of methodologies and tools that contribute to shaping the future. This will ensure readiness for potential risks and seize available opportunities. Organizations should build the strategic pyramid, continue implementing measurements to reach the required stage of maturity, and develop new measurement concepts and methodologies. There is a need to enhance the institutional culture in organizations around the culture of measurement to reach the required stage of maturity.
I also see the need to develop indicators that reflect efficiency and effectiveness in performance as well as the final impact of what needs to be measured so that it provides realistic results. What we need is a KPI that will measure the final outcome to indicate the quality of life that we have reached.
Moreover, each entity should look for a pioneer indicator that really reflects its mandate and the reasons for the organization’s existence in terms of the quality of life of the society and their stakeholders.
- How is technology impacting the performance of government entities?
Technology has actually contributed to the performance and work of the management of the strategic plan and performance monitoring as a whole through the development of digital systems and platforms that contribute to the governance of monitoring institutional performance and ensuring compliance with the requirements of periodic audits carried out by the strategy departments.
Organizations work to enhance their technological security capabilities by developing their employees’ capabilities in order to enhance the durability and strength of the available systems and to provide high institutional maturity in proper technical handling. With this, there is a need to establish and enhance indicators that reflect the result of technical culture in organizations.
- What are your recommended best practices in strategy planning for government agencies?
The strategy and performance departments lead the institutional transformation at the organizational level, and we may see the best entities that are unique in obtaining international corporate excellence awards, which are the product of the plans and the system of monitoring and developing performance in the organization.
Thus, the best practices will be based on the extent to which the entities achieve compliance and achieve the standards of the system of excellence, first and foremost, and certainly achieving the future vision and the desired strategic success both factor at the level of the organization. Organizations cannot achieve an ambitious vision without a planned risk.
- What key performance indicators should be reported for the successful delivery of public services?
Organizations must set leading indicators based on their operations and strategic plans that reflect their impact on the sector in which they operate. The required measures must consistently reflect efficiency on the activities, projects, and operations of the organization—such as measuring achievement rates—and must also include performance indicators that reflect effectiveness and achieve the desired goals. Institutions can set performance measures that reflect the achievement of goals through the OKR methodology.
The system of measurement and performance monitoring generally requires the availability of appropriate tools that refer to the real state of its performance in general and to identify areas of success and opportunities to be worked on in the future.
- What are the key performance management tools that any government entity should use to ensure performance improvement?
From my point of view, the entities with their various orientations require focusing on different measurement tools, including measuring the performance of projects and achieving goals at the strategic level, which is known as the strategic and operational indicators to know the level of achieving the strategic plan through key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics. In addition, it must measure the performance of its services and focus on indicators that reflect the level of maturity, flexibility, and proactivity in it, which reflects the best experience for the beneficiaries of government services as a whole.
Institutions will also need to measure the performance of their employees through annual performance measurement systems, known as performance appraisal, which must be designed in a way that reflects strong performance and productivity along with continuous development and application of excellence as a concept and basic principle. The process should include managing the staff’s professional development plans and managing the performance of key operations and tasks in a way that reflects institutional efficiency and effectiveness
- What are the biggest challenges that government entities face during the implementation and usage of a performance management system? Please provide your suggested solutions.
In general, the various organizations will face regular challenges related to the efficiency of the monitoring system and the effectiveness of the corrective procedures. From this, it is possible to address the difficulties, including the culture of performance, as the process of monitoring and measuring performance is an integrated process that requires the participation of all parties in the organization and knowledge of the organization’s mechanisms and models.
In addition, we see other challenges related to the efficiency of performance governance in institutions as a whole, and herein lies the need to develop an appropriate governance system that enables individuals and organizational units to enhance performance monitoring internally and to develop and use tools and models. Organizations should focus on their growth and leadership and develop the right strategies to achieve excellence.
- What are the crucial success factors in building performance and data-driven culture in the public sector?
Certainly, data represents an important factor and an essential input in the processes of managing and monitoring performance. Therefore, it is necessary from the outset to have an integrated governance and strategy for corporate data management in general, and this process requires clear institutional efforts that ensure accuracy and transparency along with analysis based on business intelligence.
- Which government entities would you recommend to be observed due to their successful approach to strategy and performance management? Why?
There are many good institutions that are good examples of measuring and monitoring performance, and here we mention the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, along with the Roads and Transport Authority in Dubai and the Ministry of Interior, as they are entities that have proven their superiority and leadership in developing performance systems and distinguishing them through leadership in national and international programs. This is what we see In the international awards it has obtained, and the General Authority of Civil Aviation is distinguished by a high-quality measurement and control system that can be relied upon as a standard reference for performance according to the government performance system.
- What are the key competencies of a successful business leader in a government entity?
In general, the distinctive characteristics of a government’s business environment require the leader to have a clear strategic view and an ambitious vision that contributes to achieving the government vision, in addition to leadership competencies such as knowledge of the nature of work, dynamism, excellence, keenness on creativity and innovation, and continuous presentation of new things in government work.
- What are the processes and tools you look at when differentiating a successful performance management system from a superficial one?
In my view, what distinguishes systems in general is what they reflect in terms of efficiency, effectiveness, and leadership of the institution. A distinction can be made in the field of achieving the aspired goals at the level of the institution, and this, of course, depends on the level of ambition in its institutional goals.
About the Expert
Nasir Abdalla Ali Alobeidli
- Corporate Excellence Manager – corporate strategy and performance, strategic planning, Auditor excellence | UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) (2016-present)
- Quality assurance , Government Excellence model , Operation Planning , Strategy, Trainer | Sharjah Police Headquarters – Training Institutes Dept. (2009-2016 ) | Data Analyst | Road and Transportation Authority – Dubai (2007 – 2009)
- Executive Master of Business Administration | University of Sharjah
- Bachelor’s Degree in Management | Ajman University of Science and Technology
- Diploma in Business Administration | Ajman University of Science and Technology
- Diploma in Government Performance | Prime Minister office
- Future Foresight Diploma | Prime Minister office with Melbourne University
This interview was first published in the 24th printed edition of PERFORMANCE Magazine. You can get a free digital copy from the TKI Marketplace here or purchase a print copy from Amazon for a nominal fee here.
Image source: kentoh from Getty Images | Canva
The public sector and government entities, especially in the UAE, tend towards excellence and global pioneering through participation in various excellence programs and awards and participation in measuring global competitiveness indicators. It has also become competitive with the private sector in the quality, efficiency, and excellence of providing services comparable to the quality and efficiency required by the highest international standards. The goal is to reach the highest levels of customer happiness,
The public sector has gone a long way. Among the main directions it is treading are the following:
Future shaping. It is what is related to the possible and the preferred in the future, along with expectations and trends that have few possibilities but have significant impacts that can occur. There is a need to analyze the extent of their impact on government work, build future models, seize opportunities, and ensure strategic ability that will affect the operations and services of government entities as they work towards achieving customers’ and society’s happiness.
Government innovation in services and processes. When services are provided innovatively, it reduces the time of their provision and measures the added value from them. Innovation is the actual translation of creative ideas and transforming them into products, services, processes, and systems that interact with and serve society. It is necessary to measure the global innovation index, which measures the level of innovation at the level of different countries by studying a number of indicators that make up the overall index. It includes seven main criteria categories that represent innovation inputs and outputs at the state level: institutions, human capital and research, infrastructure, market development, business environment development, innovation outputs of knowledge and technology, and creative outputs.
Digital transformation. This refers to providing electronic and smart government services with a high degree of excellence, pioneering, comprehensiveness, and integration among government entities and interrelated and integrated systems to achieve the “one government” concept.
Metaverse and government use. This is a system that will provide many virtual spaces on the Internet and will also allow the integration of everyday life into virtual life. Metaverse will provide immersive and exciting experiences in various fields, such as education, health, tourism, travel, service provision, shopping, transportation, and others. This involves using advanced technologies, such as virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence, blockchain, cloud computing, 5G network, and other technologies. Such technology can make government administrative services efficient. For example, people can meet with virtual officials without visiting municipal offices or any government department.
Sustainability in the social, economic, and environmental fields. Programs, initiatives, and policies that support sustainability are implemented, such as applying and measuring performance indicators of the extent of the impact of operations on health, safety, and the environment. This should ensure minimizing negative impacts on society and the environment and contribute to the rationalization of energy, water, and other resources consumption.
The future of public services
Government services in the future will depend heavily on the provision of digital services that will be more efficient and will also rely on the standards and requirements of a single platform for customer data. An example is the digital identity (UAE PASS) adopted in the UAE. It is used as a primary and unified mechanism to obtain digital services for all categories of customers.
The future of government services as stated in the global star system for rating services, issued by the Prime Minister’s Office in the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs and the future in the United Arab Emirates, represented by the Emirates Program for Excellence in Government Service, as this integrated system is the first of its kind in the world. The Emirates Program for Excellence in Government Service was launched  in the United Arab Emirates, it sets a world-class standard that helps government and private entities measure, improve and transform the field of service delivery. This program aims to improve the quality of government and private services by focusing on customer-centric services, employee happiness, and operational efficiency to provide services at a seven-star level.
Strategic planning will play an important role in assessing the quality of government services. This happens through the awareness of senior leadership, in participating in strategic planning that focuses on developing services, linking it to strategic objectives, and supporting the government entities’ strategy to improve customer experience. In addition, these strategic goals related to services must be measured and monitored through efficient and effective performance indicators, such as: the percentage of services’ customer happiness, the average time taken to provide the service, and the average waiting time to obtain the service.
The most important characteristic of government entities is how they provide services quickly and efficiently. For this purpose, they must proactively adopt advanced technologies, such as chatbots, artificial intelligence, big data analytics, and the Internet of Things, to support the provision and management of services to continue improving customer experience and reaching the highest levels of happiness for them.
In this field, government entities should provide a central database for all customer data. It should be possible to securely access the central database for customers from all service delivery channels and to manage the security of this data. There should be special security measures to deal effectively with data breaches if they occur and training for employees on how to proactively reduce security breaches. In addition, government entities must evaluate their electronic and digital security and build a culture of enhancing the importance of data privacy and security, recognize the possibility of using the Secure Sockets Layer (TLS) protocol, and ensure secure access to service and electronic payment procedures through digital channels.
One of the best practices that we recommend in strategic planning for government entities is strategic planning based on the Balanced Scorecard developed by Norton and Kaplan: It is a framework for translating the organization’s vision into a set of performance indicators covering the following four perspectives: financial aspect, customers, internal process, learning, and growth. Through this system, the organization monitors its current performance (financial, customer satisfaction, and business results) as well as its efforts towards developing operations, motivating and educating employees, enhancing information systems, and honing their ability to learn and develop.
It is considered an administrative system that enables the organization to clarify its vision and strategic goals and translate them into reality. It is an auxiliary tool used to measure the performance of organizations in order to lead them to continuous development and improvement as it focuses on gaps in performance and alerts work teams and senior management.
The Norton and Kaplan methodology for managing and executing strategy consists of six main steps:
- Preparing and developing the strategy: This includes benchmarking with best practices, formulating the vision, mission and values, conducting internal and external analysis, identifying the value gap and defining the vision, defining the change agenda, and formulating the strategy.
- Translating the strategy: It refers to defining the strategic pillars and objectives, the indicators and targets, the strategic initiatives, the responsibilities, and the general framework for the process of translating the strategy.
- Cascading and alignment of the strategy: This is about distributing objectives according to roles to the main and supportive organizational units, communicating the strategy for all employees, aligning the strategy with the individual performance of the employees, aligning with incentives, aligning the strategy with external parties and partners.
- Developing the main processes and linking the strategy to the institution’s budget and operations to ensure implementation: This involves defining priorities for strategic operations, using processes and driving models to activate the strategy, creating an operations dashboard, integrating financial planning and resource capabilities, managing initiatives, integration with and planning for intangible properties.
- Institutional review and learning by transforming the strategy into a continuous process and establishing a formal performance-based follow-up to the strategy: This is achieved by conducting strategy review meetings, and conducting operational processes review meetings).
- Testing and adaptation: This means monitoring and evaluating the strategy and adapting to the strategy based on the results achieved. It includes testing cause-and-effect relationships using data analytics, testing the robustness and solidity of the strategy, and using business intelligence and big data).
Challenges and successes
Among the biggest and most important challenges that government entities face during the implementation and usage of a performance management system are:
- The inability to obtain the information needed by government entities from the performance measurement process. The solution is to adopt performance indicators that are closely related to the strategic objectives. Measuring performance indicators that are not linked to the objectives is a waste of time.
- Lack of results and data to help make decisions. The solution is to establish a reliable database to obtain the data based on which accurate performance is measured to help make sound decisions at the right time.
- The inability to take effective measures to achieve goals. The solution lies in the use of analysis and improvement tools that lead to the root of the problem, based on which effective measures are taken to improve performance and achieve goals.
- Not knowing what exactly is important to measure. The solution is to measure a few indicators that serve the purpose of achieving the goals.
- Not knowing the purpose of the measurement and that the indicators are meaningless. The solution is to adopt the performance indicator card. From the outset, the purpose of its measurement are determined.
- Employees refuse to be held accountable for performance. The solution is not to punish employees for bad performance. Motivate and honor outstanding performance and good results.
- No improvement in performance. The solution is to measure performance indicators over long periods of time to follow up on the improvement in performance in a phased manner. Acknowledge the possibility of taking improvement measures before the end of the performance management cycle.
- Indicators are imposed on employees and are not discussed with them. The solution lies in the participation of employees in setting performance indicators and defining the responsibility of each of them for the details of the indicator, such as collecting data, monitoring improvement, measuring the indicator, and developing improvement initiatives.
In terms of building performance- and data-driven culture in the public sector, it is necessary to develop a culture of reliance on shared and open data and to measure indicators of the extent of the participation of government departments.
For the success of any performance management system:
- Performance must be monitored, evaluated, and adapted to the strategy based on the results achieved;
- The testing of cause-and-effect relationships must use data analytics;
- Artificial intelligence and big data must be employed.
To succeed as a leader in a government entity, he or she should have behavioral competencies, the set of knowledge, skills, and behaviors necessary to achieve effective performance. These competencies play an important role in employee performance and work teams for the tasks assigned to them and often appear when employees interact with each other and with clients.
Behavioral competencies include core and leadership competencies. Successful leaders must have leadership spirit, futuristic, achievement, and influence. The leadership spirit refers to empowering employees and delegating powers, promoting accountability and responsibility, setting a role model, and opening up to the world. The efficiency of the future requires the leader to see the future, be an innovator and a catalyst for radical change, be familiar with advanced technology, and be a continuous and lifelong learner. Meanwhile, achievement and impact competence means being flexible and quick, making smart, effective, and efficient decisions, and being focused on the higher goals of the government and achieving results.
This article was written by Dr. Hisham Ahmad Kayali and was first published in the 24th printed edition of PERFORMANCE Magazine. You can get a free digital copy from the TKI Marketplace here or purchase a print copy from Amazon for a nominal fee here.