A systemic Business Process Model for Public Administration (1)

I presented the thesis at the University of Southern Florida (USF) in Tampa, USA, last November 2013. The main objective was to give a summary of how a government can be more efficient, using  BPM (tools & methodology).

It has been for me a great opportunity and a great honor to participate as a consultant in organization and strategy, in building this management model, from its origins to the present. Throughout this project it became clear to me that it is possible to objectively optimize the management processes in public administration.


I. Background

In 2008, a new public health entity called Dipsalut was founded. It belongs to the Council of Girona,  a province of Catalonia (Spain).

This public entity is responsible for providing technical assistance to municipalities in the fields of public health and improving the quality of life of its citizens. The goal is to have an ecosystem of structured information, based on process management, on the one hand by supporting the strategy of the organization and on the other hand, by doing daily operations effectively and efficiently. In the  remainder of this article will be described what have been the main steps for this public institution in preparing a reference model management, based on the organization’s processes and technology used.

Currently, the trend in Spain (and Europe) is to be more efficient with fewer resources. The closer the public administration is to citizens, the more it is suffering directly from the impact of austerity policies in Europe right now.

For this reason, I want to show a model of continuous improvement based on the rational use of resources and on process optimization. It may serve as an example and reference for those responsible for local administration, who are dealing daily with the reality of doing more with less.


II. The project

The resources of government are limited, and clearly the requirement of proper service delivery by the various actors in the public network is growing . Dipsalut is currently the only public health agency for the protection and promotion of health in Spain. The guidelines to create Dipsalut were:

  • Reorganize the local government to create more efficient and effective models , with less impact on human resources by making intensive use of technology.
  • The municipalities have their own public health competencies in the area of health protection that should be met .
  • The availability of a structured health protection model helps promote awareness of these issues in their municipality.

These factors led us to think of alternatives that enable an integrated, effective, efficient and viable solution, applying highly innovative concepts in public management. The result is the implementation of Dipsalut .


III. Case study

Below I have briefly described the key points that have been developed to achieve a successful implementation of the entire model.

Process management

Organizations are as efficient as their processes. Process management can be conceptualized as a way of managing the entire organization based on the processes, being defined as a sequence of activities to generate added value on an entry, and an output which in turn satisfies the requirements of the “client” .

This has been one of the important premises throughout the development of the model. As Dipsalut was a newly created public agency, it had no previous records. Therefore, the design process was performed for the first time with the start of the life Dipsalut element. On the one hand, it provided the first implementation of a management model, since there were no previous use cases or methods. On the other hand, we had to deal with the uncertainty to create the first processes that previously had never been developed by any other similar public body, as Dipsalut was the pioneer in Spain with regards to health protection and health promotion .

This approach allowed us to have a greater ability to respond to changes – and having no reference in similar organizations  – change management processes was a point we could include from the start.

To ensure proper design processes, the BPMN methodology was followed as a methodology for process mapping. It covered the public body’s needs and is more easily understood by users.

key point: keeping processes up-to-date

After having identified the process management model, we faced an important decision: How to managing process life cycle over time, and how to keep processes up-to-date with changes, developments, new processes, etc.

The approach was divided in two parts:

  • The process design tool (activiti BPM)
  • The method of publishing processes (bespoke software development)


Figure 1: Diagram of processes


Figure 2: Layout options modeler


Establishing indicators

How to measure the outcomes was for Dipsalut an important element to consider in the entire model. Once launched, it was of strategic importance to be able to measure the performance of all processes and related information systems. To do this, a set of key indicators was defined to measure both the result of the action programs, such as the activity of processes linked to external suppliers, as well as internal staff performance indicators. This measurement approach allowed to constantly monitor the results and to have management make their decisions in an effective and efficient manner.

The indicators are grouped into five categories :

  • Development of applications
  • Results of each program
  • Effectiveness of suppliers
  • Actions taken by town
  • Internal evaluation of staff

Creating management program for centralizing all activity

As mentioned above , one of the characteristics of this public health agency was that it is a pioneer in Spain. Currently , there is no other public entity similar to Dipsalut. This made it hard to compare possible approaches and solutions, since basically no comparison exists.

A review process of different standard software programs was considered, although these did not cover the total of required functionalities.

Finally, the decision was made to develop a bespoke core management application, which would manage all activities of the agency, could be fully customized and was 100 % accessible from the cloud (cloud computing oriented).

Developing this custom application did not imply we were giving in to interoperability, i.e. the fact that the bespoke program should be able to integrate with other applications and systems. It was a reality that the central system should be interfaced with other applications such as case management or public accounting solutions.

For this reason, the development platform should meet a set of technological requirements that allow it to easily interoperate. With these premises, we began to shape SIMSAP (municipal information system in public health).


Main benefits of SIMSAP

For municipalities:

  • Apply protection programs and health promotion (catalog Dipsalut services);
  • Follow up online for the actions once the results were obtained (analytical , technical reports);
  • Conduct consultations by program and geo-referenced equipment (on the map of the town where the equipment was used.

As providers:

  • Concentrate on one application;
  • Organize, plan and communicate quickly with Dipsalut;
  • Enter the results in real time. Dipsalut provides the guardianship and validates all its operations through SIMSAP.

As Dispalut :

  • Easily get the full picture of the health situation in each municipality;
  • Compare current data and trends with data from previous years;
  • Evaluate what health programs are doing better and which programs should be adapted to the needs and peculiarities of a given (local) environment.


In my next blog, I will describe the technological environment in more detail, and explain the qualitative results and conclusions of this study.

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By Francesc Xavier Berjano @ Mediterranean Consulting | February 13, 2014

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