Building an Infrastructure to Manage Electronic Services

Building an Infrastructure to Manage Electronic Services

Ake Gronlund (Umea University, Sweden)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-878289-95-7.ch006


For an organization to be able to deliver electronic services efficiently and professionally requires a “service infrastructure” including organizational solutions for logistics and customer (citizen) interactions. This chapter reviews a study covering three years of efforts by nine cities in eight European countries in developing such solutions. Generally, Web projects were seen as technical projects; though in fact issues pertaining to users and organization were most important, they were largely neglected. We found 12 distinct “challenges,” situations where the setting changed and the process was found in a stage of improvisation until new stability was achieved. The challenges fall into four categories, concerning users (4 challenges), organization (6), economy (1) and technology (1). We found that the overall process was largely unstructured and improvised. Stabilizing factors were central government policies (national, European Union), the general technical development, market demands and a cadre of Web agents” fostered within the organizations over years of Web projects. There was typically a missing infrastructure link, a body competent of managing the whole process of bundling services from different service providers and publishing them in a coherent fashion, providing support to service providers during the process of inventing, refining and evaluating services, improving operations and conducting the necessary but typically ignored activities of analysis of service quality and policy making. Our conclusion is that there is a great lack of strategic leadership in the field of electronic services in local governments in Europe. This is a big problem considering the importance of that sector and the challenges it is facing.

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