Inept Solutions – Growing Out of It
Finding real value of electronic systems
Last time I visited the Income Tax Department, I noted that they had installed an electronic ‘queuing’ system to allow visitors to take their turn by number. Not everybody was using it though.
The directions on how to use it were posted right above the display, and there were plenty of chairs outside, but there was one huge gap, the second half of the information system was missing! There were no marker displays to show which desk was available for which visitor, and the officers in turn had no means of signaling their availability to the next visitor. The machine stood there, useless.
In another department, the computer was indeed of use. If computers did go down for some reason, work will have to be harder if not impossible, because everybody needs to step down and do it manually. Then later they have to take it into the system again. I could see computers on every desk, which supposedly makes work faster or more efficient. But I must admit, I did not yet feel the difference.
It is not the technological advancement that makes any of those electronic systems more helpful. Computers, after all, have been there for so long, and so did the electronic systems. The magic an electronic system introduces is how intelligent it can be in producing options. Hinting, guiding, giving alternatives, and predicting users’ next steps, are the basics of an effective electronic system.
Amman is taking that road, that’s for sure. Growing out of old systems into more intelligent ones takes a little patience and a lot of guts. The last system to be automated by esense was the eCourt for the Hashemite Royal Court. It is amazing how fast people get adapted to the new system that it becomes really hard to do without it. We have installed the initial phase for many departments, and finished deployment just recently.
GALA Schedule+ is another example of electronic intelligence. It allows users to fill the details in the initial steps of scheduling a program, and produces answers and solutions along the way, based on their initial or habitual requirements.
It indeed is a big waste of money, effort and time, to install an electronic system that only helps gathering and storing data. If the data were not used later to help make decisions, rather than merely prepare reports and statistics, then it is no different than a supermarket cash registry machine.