Usage of Workflow Applications In eGovernance

January 06, 2022

Years 2020 and 2021 have been disrupting in terms of technological changes. Many things that were normal earlier are seen as obsolete now. Workplaces went from in the office to WFH, meetings changed from in-person to virtual, and so on. Consumers, companies, and businesses have welcomed these ‘new-normal’ changes with open arms. 

Governments across the globe aren’t far behind either. This fast-changing paradigm shift of post COVID era requires public sector entities that are willing to adapt to the rising digital needs of its citizens. These requirements range from simple ones such as application tracking to complex ones such as applying for virtual ID on the UIDAI website in India. There have been multiple ways in which public sector organizations and governments have adopted these changes, but the most crucial one, which might be called the backbone of the digital shift, is workflow reimagination through eGovernance application. 

Before understanding how eGovernance application has ramped up the digital infrastructure of public sector entities, a generic definition of ‘Workflow Applications’ is to be understood. 

In a nutshell, any software application that automates a repetitive task involved in a business process can be termed a workflow application. This usually happens with data being routed through a very sternly pre-defined path until the process is successfully completed.  

These workflow applications can be part of an entire suite of applications or can be stand-alone as well. This means they can be integrated with other applications or act as a one-stop-solution point for repetitive tasks. 

Even before the pandemic, workflow applications were already a huge part of private sector organizations. A few of observed advantages were: 

  • Process remodeling became easier and specific to a workflow 
  • Process re-engineering could be done more effectively to optimize the workflow 
  • Automation of repetitive tasks to generate workflow implementations 

With such already established improvements across the board, public sector entities, which are usually a little too cautious about adopting new changes, can no longer ignore these applications. With established credentials of workflow applications, they have now started demanding their place in the governance suite as well. 

It’s to be noted that process re-designing in a public sector environment is always a challenge as changes must jump through multiple hierarchies.

Still, information technology has become much more streamlined, making public sector entities more optimized and productive, leading to better usage of the taxpayer money while delivering high-quality services.  

With a push from the ‘Digital India’ initiative, many ministries, departments, states, and PSUs have also started rolling out their version of eGovernance based workflow applications in India. 

The National Knowledge Commission (NKC) recently reviewed these various eGovernance projects. There were multiple observations across, but the ones that stood out are: 

  • Common Standards – There is no typical flow or a defined standard being followed by various ministries, departments, states, and PSUs. Everyone seems to be developing their own. It is essential to develop a common platform and standard that apply to all.
  • National Infrastructure – At the current stage, there’s a very limited infrastructure that can access the digital services being developed. It is important to develop hardware, hosting capabilities, and software infrastructure before properly implanting workflow applications. 
  • Web-Based Services – To enforce common standards across the various levels of governance, web-based services play an important role as they bring responsiveness and transparency into processes. NKC also recommends that state governments follow the central government’s processes and templates to localize the data and link to a common platform. 
  • Open-Source Software – As always, OSS is a key component to the Digital India initiative and with the scope of eGovernance being massive, it is recommended to use OSS to develop software as they can be kept in line with the changing global landscape as well. 
  • Focused Organization – NKC also recommends the formation of a central task force that would oversee the national eGovernance process. This organization would work with full autonomy and will be accountable for the project by formulating the guiding principles. 

Considering the recommendation from the National Knowledge Commission, the Government of India, in a blog post on their digital India website, set a few guidelines for such a reform to take place. A few of these guidelines are: 

  • Forms should be simplified and made user-friendly. 
  • Each department should provide an online application tracking facility. 
  • Integration of some services and platforms with UIDAI’s Aadhar platform in India for security and user verification.  

This shows that the Government of India is considering the reimagination of workflow very seriously and is on the right path to take action. Clearly, workflow applications are going to change how we interact with public services. With an increased adoption amongst citizens, these applications are surely going to upscale the ease of use and quality of services from the Government.


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