Article

Ten Tips: How to Create a Next Generation Public Service Super-Portal

Since its inception in 2000, the Land Transport Authority’s ONE.MOTORING portal has become an indispensable online destination for the motor trade industry, vehicle owners and the general public.

Date Posted

1 Apr 2008

Issue

Issue 4, 14 Apr 2008

Since its inception in 2000, the Land Transport Authority’s ONE.MOTORING (http://www.onemotoring.com.sg) portal has become an indispensable online destination for the motor trade industry, vehicle owners and the general public. With more than 8 million monthly page views, this comprehensive information, service and community portal polled user satisfaction ratings of 93% in 2008.1 It was also awarded the 2006 National Infocomm Award (Merit) for the most innovative use of infocomm technology (ICT) in the public sector, among a number of international accolades.2

A pioneering effort in integrated e-services and public-private collaboration, the developers of ONE.MOTORING encountered many challenges common to the radical adoption of electronic service delivery by public sector agencies. The management team behind this revolutionary portal offers 10 hard-earned lessons from their experience in developing next-generation e-Government services.

1. CHANGE MINDSETS, CHANGE THE GAME

An early aspect of the Land Transport Authority (LTA) e-services master plan in the late 1990s was the recognition that it had to provide a customer experience beyond mere service delivery, by integrating both government and commercial services in order to increase the depth of e-services.

This was a significant departure from traditional government-led initiatives where commercial interests were held at arm’s length in order to maintain public accountability and impartiality.


The richness of collaboration between government, commercial and public entities is precisely what has transformed an otherwise government-centric portal into a vibrant lifestyle hub for the motoring community.

Instead, ONE.MOTORING would draw on the public service’s reputation for trustworthiness, reliability and transparency, while tapping the creativity and operational nimbleness of the private sector. Today, the richness of collaboration between government, commercial and public entities is precisely what has transformed an otherwise government-centric portal into a vibrant lifestyle hub for the motoring community.

As a hybrid portal offering both public and private services, ONE.MOTORING did not comply with standard government guidelines of how a government website should look and operate. As part of the mindset shift, the portal was registered under LTA’s wholly-owned subsidiary as www.onemotoring.com.sg immediately freeing it up conceptually to offer radically new forms of joint public-private services ahead of the curve.

2. TRANSFORM AN ENTIRE INDUSTRY—WITHOUT BEARING ALL THE COST

Singapore’s motor industry is largely made up of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), where the adoption rate of information technology is relatively low. The ONE.MOTORING initiative, by providing a trusted gateway to a comprehensive range of services, was an opportunity for LTA to help close the digital divide among companies, achieve seamless integration, and reap efficiencies across the industry.

However, this approach does not mean that LTA bears the development costs of all services on ONE.MOTORING. Instead, LTA acts as an anchor tenant, bringing credibility and a strong base of transactions to the portal. Today, LTA attracts more than 8 million page-views monthly to the portal, of which 50% are government-related transactions and enquiries. Commercial services offered by industry partners through their own corporate systems make up the rest of the portal’s transactions.

ONE.MOTORING does not provide hosting services, hence its capital set-up is kept low. Instead, every e-service owner or provider is responsible for its own backend development as part of its business operations. As a TrustSg3 certified hub, the portal ensures that the highest possible security controls are put in place and regular vulnerability tests conducted by authorised third-parties ensures the website is secured and safe.

Being a gateway, the portal provides a “service green lane” that directs and links the various e-services to the respective backend systems for processing. In this way, it is able to ensure the fastest possible response time without the overhead of a massive, centralised technical infrastructure. Each corporate participant determines their own development priorities. Business competition drives the pace of available new e-services. The portal is therefore not encumbered by e-services that nobody wants, or by a dearth of new features.

At the same time, the business partner who operates and maintains the portal is incentivised to ‘recruit’ new commercial e-services, related to motoring needs, through a share of advertising revenue.

3. BUILD BUY-IN WITH STAKEHOLDERS

To make ONE.MOTORING possible, LTA had to work closely with external stakeholders such as the transport operators, motor dealers, insurance companies and financial institutions to develop the land transport portal.

From as early as 2000 when LTA presented the concept of ONE.MOTORING as a one stop centre for all motoring needs in Singapore, industry requirements and feedback were gathered. This early start helped to build rapport with business partners and a sense of collaboration towards shared goals that has shaped the evolution of the portal till the present.

When the full suite of e-Services @ONE.MOTORING was officially launched in February 2006, as many of 3,500 personnel from over 750 industry partners were trained by LTA and over 50 site-visits were made to private companies to verify the integration of their systems with the LTA. In addition, at least 800 personnel from 500 motor trade companies participated in the testing of our systems before these were rolled out.

4. BECOME A CATALYST FOR CHANGE

It is not the case that industrial involvement in ONE.MOTORING is driven by top-down government mandate. Instead, it is vital to the long-term viability of the portal, that all participants derive value from their involvement.

One example is a local company that provides online car mart services. They were initially concerned that ONE.MOTORING would compete with their own portal and dilute business opportunities by drawing eyeballs away. They were assured that ONE.MOTORING was not intended to compete with their services, but on the contrary would provide a gateway to their offerings. In the past 18 months, this company has become the No.1 automotive website in Singapore and they have openly attributed their gains in hit-rates to ONE.MOTORING.


Land transport is seen not as a way to bring people from point A to point B; it is instead regarded as a vital lifestyle good that affects the quality of life in Singapore.

The LTA Community Network for Partners is another case in point. ONE.MOTORING is linked to more than 820 motor trade industry partners comprising motor dealers, inspection centres, motor trade associations and payment service-providers. This extensive network of business users taps on LTA’s backend system through ONE.MOTORING for various online services. However, the need to link up with LTA was considered an added business cost for small companies. In anticipation of this business concern, LTA aggregated the demand for high-speed leased lines with the telcos through a LTA-initiated tender. This initiative offers a special group discount scheme to business partners connecting with LTA, while providing a trusted environment where fast and secure e-transactions can be performed.

5. SERVE A REAL COMMUNITY AND GENUINE NEEDS

One key visionary aspect of ONE.MOTORING is its customer-oriented perspective. Land transport is seen not as a way to bring people from point A to point B; it is instead regarded as a vital lifestyle good that affects the quality of life in Singapore.

In servicing the lifestyles and aspirations of the broader motoring community, ONE.MOTORING has become a popular interaction point. Since October 2004, the portal’s 40,000 registered members have participated in nearly 6,000 forum topics and polls. Topics of electronic discussions range from the best motor-parts in town, car maintenance services, fuel consumption to driving tips, lowest parking rates, and useful tips when buying a car in Singapore.

These informal public exchanges complement the formal services provided by LTA and the motoring industry. The end result is a content-rich portal powered by real users, transforming what might have been a typical, functional government portal into a lifestyle hub, enabling communities with similar interests to engage and exchange information.

To stay relevant and ensure that the portal remains “the gateway to all motoring needs in Singapore”, comments and suggestions provided by both individual and business users are fed back as improvements in the portal’s look-and-feel, or as new services and new channels of delivery.

6. HAVE A BIAS FOR ACTION, NOT PERFECTION

The business plan for ONE.MOTORING took less than four months to conceptualise, but its actual implementation took place over several years and through several phases of thematic implementation.

The real challenge was not the availability of technology, but of change management. LTA recognised that different companies in the motoring industry varied in terms of readiness to come onboard the portal. Each company had its own business priorities; each needed time to review their existing processes.

LTA’s strategy was to adopt a 90-day “battle call” in the initial period, where a new function or service would be introduced every three months. A “What’s Coming” column on the portal anticipated upcoming improvements. Short intervals between roll-outs allowed much needed time to make vital adjustments and to mitigate possible risks in earlier judgment.

When embarking on radically new initiatives, trials and pilots were also taken in order to gauge public reactions and allow for fine-tuning of plans and systems before a full-scale launch.

By adopting a phased approach, surprises for the project team were minimised and user confidence accelerated with each successful launch of new features.

7. OFFER NEW SERVICES THAT WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN POSSIBLE BEFORE

Through the use of a single portal, LTA has closed the digital divide among the companies in the use of ICT. This provided the opportunity for the private sector to synergise activities and seek new way to deliver integrated services that have not been possible before. One such spin-off is the Electronic Vehicle Recall Service (EVRS).

From time to time, car manufacturers would issue notices for the recall of vehicles for parts replacement. These recalls are also mandated by LTA to comply with road safety and road-worthiness standards. Prior to EVRS, motor agents would send notices to car-owners based on their purchase records. The success rate of such recalls was less than 70% and inventory costs were high.

With EVRS, motor agents leverage on ONE.MOTORING to notify affected vehicle-owners, whose addresses are kept up-to-date in the portal’s central database due to road tax renewal regulations. Now, timely notifications are sent to affected vehicle owners, while motor dealers are able to better manage their inventory of rectification parts, and LTA achieves higher levels of vehicle road-worthiness. Since its introduction, the EVRS has garnered positive feedback from motor dealers for improving productivity, lowering business costs and enhancing overall efficiency.

8. MAINTAIN A COHERENT BRAND THAT IS RELEVANT, WITH A CLEAR CORE BUSINESS

With a hybrid portal offering both government and commercial services, a strong branding is essential to pull everything together. The name ONE.MOTORING was derived from the portal’s vision of “one-stop motoring”.

Four strategic thrusts underpin ONE.MOTORING’s brand-value proposition:

  • Content: The portal must be informative, up-to-date and easy to use to promote self-service.
  • Community-centric: It must be built with the end-user in mind, including the various interest groups among the public.
  • Collaboration: It should be an amalgamation of efforts by the private and public sector, with LTA being the catalyst to transport the landscape of land transport services.
  • Commerce: The portal will harness the capabilities of Internet technologies and provide alternative service-channels for transactions to be conducted over the net.

These fundamental principles have guided the development of the portal. As early as 1999, private-public-partnership strategies, definition of customer segments and elements of branding and marketing were already being adopted, in order to sharpen the portal’s focus.

9. DO NOT JUST OUTSOURCE, BUILD ACTIVE PARTNERSHIPS

LTA outsources the technical development and day-to-day operations and maintenance for ONE.MOTORING services to a technology partner. Marketing and business development activities are included as part of the overall agreement. However, LTA takes joint responsibility for overall business development to ensure that the portal stays focused and remains relevant to its primary stakeholders.

A joint business-development team from LTA and the service provider determines the annual work plan for the portal. Related key performance indicators are used and quarterly reviews conducted to align progress and discuss issues. New initiatives are determined collectively to ensure that these do not conflict with the Authority’s goals, while keeping an open mind to offerings of new ideas and opportunities by partners.


A radical new vision of serviceorientation cannot be limited to frontline staff; it has to permeate an entire organisation and its culture.

The working style of the public service and commercial partners can be radically different. However, instead of being overly guarded with each other, openness and transparency are key to bridging these differences.

10. DO NOT FORGET TO POWER UP STAFF

Citizens and businesses are at the centre of the service vision, and partnership with stakeholders is essential for successful service delivery. However, the impact of change on staff should not be forgotten. E-Government is about transformation, but this cannot be achieved without careful and coordinated human resource management. A radical new vision of service-orientation cannot be limited to frontline staff; it has to permeate an entire organisation and its culture.

Business process re-engineering training and service-related workshops have been built into LTA staff training roadmaps since 2000. Training incorporates real-life problems as case studies; recommendations and feedback from each case are fed back to respective business units for follow up. This approach also helped to develop a sense of ownership for change among operational staff.

THE FUTURE OF ONE.MOTORING: A 4P EFFORT

ONE.MOTORING has proven that public sector efforts, using creative business models and applying disruptive technologies, can dramatically alter the industry landscape.

As customer expectations continue to evolve and new developments in technology are made available, the challenge is to further include, understand and serve ever more diverse customer groups, while striking a balance between service and delivery cost.

Building on its pioneering 3P (public-private partnership) model, ONE. MOTORING is now looking ahead to a 4P (public-private-people partnership) effort, involving the people and community in developing the next generation of truly integrated services.

 

Rosina Howe-Teo is Chief Innovation Officer and Group Director of the Innovation and InfoComm Technology Group at the Land Transport Authority (LTA). She has been the Project Director for ONE.MOTORING since 1999 and is also LTA’s Quality Service Manager. She chairs the Land Transport Innovation Fund Committee to promote innovation excellence in Singapore’s land transport development.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rosina Howe-Teo is Chief Innovation Officer and Group Director of the Innovation and InfoComm Technology Group at the Land Transport Authority (LTA). She has been the Project Director for ONE.MOTORING since 1999 and is also LTA’s Quality Service Manager. She chairs the Land Transport Innovation Fund Committee to promote innovation excellence in Singapore’s land transport development.


NOTES

  1. Customer satisfaction rating in 2008 improved over 2007’s rating of 90.4%, which is an achievement, given that significant effort is typically required to maintain satisfaction levels, let alone improve them.
  2. ONE.MOTORING was also a Finalist in the 2006 Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management (CAPAM) Awards, and a Winner of the CIO Asia Award in 2003.
  3. TrustSg is a nation-wide trust mark initiative by the National Trust Council (NTC) to boost the electronic commerce environment in Singapore. This is to help build confidence in e-commerce transactions especially in the area of privacy and security. To acquire the TrustSg seal, merchants are required to comply with a stringent code of conduct for online business practice set by the NTC. The code covers the area of disclosure, privacy, fulfilment, best business practices, and protection of minors and the elderly. Consumers will recognise the merchant as a trustworthy e-commerce operator when the website carries the TrustSg seal. For details, see http://www.trustsg.com.sg.

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