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Should the Public Sector have it’s own “M” model?

CRM, BPM, KM, ECM. These are the abbreviations of new electronic management or “M” models that have emerged with the growth of the Internet. They relate to the management of traditional business practices ranging from customer relations to knowledge to business assets that are now enabled electronically through the Web and complimentary devices. Their use has rapidly expanded and automated these traditional processes while opening doors for new possibilities to increasing their capacity and the overall impact of the enterprise.

Initially created for and used by the private sector to improve conventional processes by finding new electronic ways to manage the business, these “M” models help companies connect with customers, vendors and employees. Their adoption has allowed them to flourish and have become their own industries.

While some governments have adopted and benefited from these solutions, there have been challenges and impediments to their implementation –unlike their private counterparts that are unencumbered by obstacles (real and perceived) found in the public sector. As a result, private enterprises have more fully adapted to utilizing the Web and these solutions to operate and administer their enterprises.

Most of these structural and procedural challenges are unique to the public sector, e.g., government, public organizations and non-profits, and centers around communication and information sharing. Perhaps, then, it’s time to establish a new management or “M” process that relates specifically to the public sector and its organizations that is unique, and recognizes these inherent challenges and is outside the realm of for-profit entities.

My suggestion is Public Communications Management, or “PCM,” as the emerging management model for information, communication, collaboration and decision making. PCM focuses on the processes surrounding the gathering, organizing and dissemination of information (including data), communicating that information, collaboration, deliberation and outcomes. Each of these processes contains their own challenges to be effective and to improve the quality and quantity of the various components and the networks involved (people, groups and organizations) to convey information and to effectively administer deliberative processes.

One could argue that PCM includes other “M” or management processes such as KM, IM, and CRM and so on. This would be accurate. However, the point of designating PCM is to provide the public sector with its own umbrella concept to include these other “M” processes that do work between the two sectors, but more aptly consider them within a public sector framework that is much different than how they may be practiced by a private company.

PCM is focused on deliverables throughout these processes: the quality of information or data, how it is accessed, communicated or disseminated; the makeup of internal and external collaboration and deliberation models; and the environments for how decisions are made, i.e., inclusive, open, transparent and informed.

Some may say this sounds like “Gov 2.0.” However, while PCM’s focus is on electronic means for communication, information sharing, collaboration, etc., there has to be built-in to these processes a recognition of and utilization of conventional or traditional forms of communication and information sharing in addition to new digital solutions. In many cases, Gov 2.0 versions of online engagement do not resemble their offline counterpart, e.g., online comments can be made anonymously while in-person public forum comments require attribution. And many Gov 2.0 applications to solve common communication and information challenges are inconsistent across government agencies and lack the structure found in their conventional counterparts. PCM should accommodate both online and offline processes and work together, even complement each other.

PCM is about labeling the way information, communication and collaboration flow in and out of public organizations on a daily basis. It’s also about solving the unique industry challenges to manage those processes to make them more efficient. And, yes, it is also about branding.

What are your ideas? Do the electronic communication and information challenges of government and public organizations warrant its own designated management model? What else can be added to expand upon the concept?

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Sid Burgess

I think that unless vendors mandate branding/functionality be geared toward “PCM”, it will be hard to implement. In doing so, you may invariably hedge out possible solutions. Take Microsoft Dynamics CRM for example. It is being used by the Indiana Department of Corrections (link). How would this strategy affect the relationship between vendor and government in this specific case?

I do like the idea of software structures fitting better with government, but I am not sure that it isn’t government that needs to change the most here. Great food for thought though.