Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Techniques of Administrative Improvement: Organisation and methods, Work study and work management; e-governance and information technology; Management aid tools like network analysis, MIS, PERT, CPM.

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Administration or to be very specific,the Bureaucracy from a traditional point of view has always been change resistant,opaque and rigid. Therefore,in today's times,where the world is become a global village and the concept of Welfare State and Good Governance looms large it has become imperative to transform the administrative machinery and reform it for the best results in order for it to remain important and not become obsolete.

Therefore, administrative improvement and reforms are a priority. So, today we will discuss this very important aspect of administration.

It is an artificial inducement of administrative transformation against resistance.
A.F Leaman asserts that Administrative reforms are an effort to mitigate the gap between reality and what is desirable of the administration. And this transformation is for a value laden and moral purpose or can be for the purpose of changing with the times to maintain continuity, or both of these.

Lets understand some terms associated with and collectively form Administrative improvement, and should not be misunderstood as meaning the same.
1) Administrative change - spontaneous,based on continuity,value-neutral,incremental that means small changes from time to time which are imperceptible or not noticeable.
2) Administrative reform: Periodical,value laden,and the change is substantial(large and important in size/value) and noticeable.
3) Administrative reorganisation: It is in house effort,which means within the administration itself and not necessarily serving a larger purpose.
4) Administrative revolution: A phenomena that brings about a radical change in the administration and its nature.

Any of the above when takes place,either in isolation or in continuum is administrative improvement.

1) Excessive tolerance to maladministration.
2) Political and bureaucratic inertia.
3) Lack of funds and infrastructure.
4) Lack of research,knowledge and opposing ideas/ideologies,etc.
5) Reports on the same are considered to idealistic and not implementable practically.


I) ORGANISATION AND METHODS- Also used synonymously with Organisation and management. It originated from the pioneers of scientific management that is Taylor and Gilbreth and is the base for this technique. It is the systematic examination of activities in order to improve the effective use of human and other material resources. It is highly technical and is conceptualised and implemented by the specialists/top level officers of an organisation to eliminate delay,wastage and overlapping,etc. It is an in house mechanism that is undertaken to accommodate and implement administrative changes and reforms in Organisation and methods.

The basic steps involved in O&M(Organisation and Methods) are:
1) Select the area/process that requires attention (done by the strategists of the organisation)
2) Record the current situation prevailing in it.
3) Examine and analyse the existing scenario.
4) Develop,design and evaluate alternative solutions and recommend improvement opportunities.
5) Implement the chosen solution.
6) maintain and monitor the implementation of that solution to ensure adherence and benefits and whether it is effective or not.

Now lets go into the details/techniques used to follow these steps in O&M:

1) Work Study - The scientific and systematic study of the work being done or to be improved(refer to Taylor's scientific management).

Work Study's types or sub techniques are:
i) Method Study: Related to the the tools and techniques as well as path being used in the work which is being studied. It is a systematic scrutinizing of all aspects like what,when,how,why,where,who etc is studied of the work case in order to get a proper understanding of the same and develop a suitable strategy for improvement to avoid delay and wastage of resources.
ii) Work Measurement: It is a supplement of the Method study where a study is done on the type of work at hand and its content.
iii) Organisational analysis: It takes a holistic view by placing the work at hand as an integral part of the organisation and its contribution to the working of the whole organisation and how it affects the same.It helps understand how a single improvement in the work at hand will affect the entire organisation and how other work will automatically improve in tandem with this one,etc. Negative and positive affects,both are seen.

2) Work management - It is the integrated process that enables the manager to access efficient ways to do a particular work. It strategies in detail the work within the organisation to make work simpler,better and efficient.

Its important sub techniques are:
i) Task based design : It is the detailed outline of the overall work of the organisation in the form of a simple work chart.
ii) Work queue : Substantially arranging various activities within a particular task. It also includes the ' to do ' list of the organisation.
iii) Work management Groups: It is the group in charge of outlining tasks,queueing the work,performance evaluation,setting standards,etc.

Work management can be taken up at both the upper as well as mid or lower levels of an organisation/administration and takes into account not only the work at hand but also the personnel in charge and the skills they possess and what is required. Thus it is a very extensive as well as significant method.

3) Forward Engineering Process - It advocates that along with contemporary change,an organisation/administration must also look into the future and anticipate changes to remain ahead of others and that is to be done through the BOW(Barriers,Obstacles and Weaknesses) analysis,CINE MATRIX ( Controllable Internal factors and Non controllable external factors) analysis, SWOT ( Strengths,Weaknesses,Opportunities and Threat) analysis,SPOT (Space,Pace,Opportunities and Threats) analysis.

E-Governance is the term used for a technology driven governance. It is the usage of Information and communication technology(ICT) to deliver government services,exchange of communication transactions,government to citizen and government to business as well as govt. to govt. interaction through fast paced,accurate and transparent electronic medium. .It is based on the theory that the State can increase its capacity in the changing environment/ecology through the use of Information Technology.It helps eradicate boundaries. E-government refers to a government that employs ICT in administrative machinery together with organisational changes and improvements and support public and democratic processes as well as bettering public policies. E-governance on the other hand is related to a broader term where the govt. wants to reach out of their organisations to the people and communicate with them and eradicate boundaries.

This has been reinforced and advocated via many theorists and scholars of Public Administration as well as Management like Luther Gulick,Herbert Simon(refer to his decision making model and his views on the use of computers under the Programmed and Non Programmed decisions for the same - http://publicadministrationtheone.blogspot.in/2012/07/process-techniques-of-decision-making.html), Pfiffner and Sherwood ( who conducted a case study in 1960's and found that IT converted organisations into better models), Allen Schich ( theory of cybernetics),etc.

Let's discuss the view of Dr. Arie Halachmi on E-Governance and IT in Administration/Organisation on the same.
Dr. Halachmi in his paper/essay " E-governance - theories and practices" studied the Tennessee Valley Authority organisational system and put forward five models of e-governance based on the study:
i) Dissemination Model - The administration through use of ICT can place information into the public domain.
ii) Critical Flow Model - Only certain clientele in society are required to be intimated about a policy/change and so IT helps in selectively doing so.
iii) Comparative Analysis Model - Best practices of other systems can be efficiently and accurately and collectively shared through IT.
iv) E-advocacy/Mobilisation and lobbying Model - IT empowers people with knowledge and only empowered people/citizens with the required knowledge can ensure good governance.
v) Interactive State Model - Grievances of people can be communicated,addressed and resolved efficiently and without delay through interactive IT systems.
vi) Practical Aspects - Enables efficient delivery of government services,exchange of communication transactions,government to citizen and government to business as well as govt. to govt. interaction through fast paced,accurate and transparent electronic medium. It will reduce red tapism due to hierarchy and enables decentralisation of information and services,enable transparency,increase capacity of administration to bring about rapid socio-economic and political development,skilled manpower enters into organisation and is a boon,proper and timely performance appraisal is done to avoid delay and demotivation,etc.

Let's look at the concept of E-governance and IT in the Indian context:
IT enabling began in the 1970's and during the new economic policy time of :LPG in 1990's IT and E-Governance(1997 Chief Ministers conference on Good Governance) was given an impetus.
The National Information Technology Act,2000 gave this concept a legal identity and formal structure and power/authority. The act was subsequently modified in 2001 to adapt to new changes and demands of the society and globalisation.
The National E-governance Plan was brought out as well to bring about socio-economic development and consolidate culture and IT. The Finance Ministry,Railway ministry,Health ministry,etc are trend setters as well as rely heavily on IT and ICT.
At the state level, Andhra Pradesh first of all took the lead by inaugurating the SMART project ( Simple,Moral,Acceptable,Responsible,Transparent) of administration and its services to the people.
Kerala started the FRIENDS(Fast Reliable Instant Efficient Network for Disbursement of Services) project and Karnataka started the E-Bhoomi(on-line delivery and management of land records in Karnataka) project.

Management aid tools are those tools/techniques that help in work simplification and efficiency of management processes.

Let's discuss each one of them in detail.

1) Network Analysis : It is a method for studying communication and socio-technical networks within a formal organization. It is a quantitative descriptive technique for creating statistical and graphical models of the people, tasks, groups, knowledge and resources of organizational systems. It is based on social network theory and more specifically, dynamic network analysis. It helps identify local and global patterns, locate influential entities, and examine network dynamics.

2) Management Information System(s) or MIS: It is an integrated entity/system of information technology where interaction between different parts/department/projects of an organisation is enabled for better and efficient management practices (POSDCORB and others) and skills to solve problems that occur between the parties obstructing work and communication through systematically managed and stored information/knowledge. It helps automation.
MIS helps managers in extracting information of the organisation and its different departments for coordination in order to carry out his functions and responsibilities in a cost effective and time effective as well as efficient manner.
It helps the managers in conducting simulations and decision making as well.

MIS come in different formats suitable to the particular department it is used and the nature of work in question in like Accounting MIS,Human Resources MIS,Financial management MIS,Marketing and Sales MIS,Customer Service MIS,etc. The top most management however have models of MIS that incorporate all departments and processes of the organisation for their analysis.

MIS helps in decentralisation,democratisation, and participation by all through proper management of information and its sharing subject to the condition that the information is accurate and updated from time to time and the personnel are educated and trained regarding it and then asked to use it in order to harvest all its benefits.

3) Performance Evaluation and Review Technique or PERT: It is a relatively new planning and control system designed to help top management with planning,research,problem solving,decision making and control of organisational processes. It analyses the tasks involved in completing a particular project,especially the minimum time needed to complete the same. It is quite similar to CPM. It is probabilistic in nature as in it is based on the theory of probability that an event or situation or activity is likely to happen/be completed in future if things are done and followed in the very same rigid way as anticipated or designed , but not a 100% surety.

Its disadvantages are that :
i) There can be potentially hundreds or thousands of activities and individual dependency relationships and it is not possible to ensure things to happen the way it is designed as we are dealing with human beings and there can be any amount of natural as well as induced disasters in between.
ii) PERT is not easily scalable for smaller projects
iii) The network charts tend to be large and unwieldy requiring several pages to print and requiring special size paper
iv) The lack of a time frame on most PERT/CPM charts makes it harder to show status although colours can help (e.g., specific colour for completed nodes)
v) When the PERT/CPM charts become unwieldy, they are no longer used to manage the project.

However if planning is done well and and all pessimistic and optimistic factors are studied as well as a most likely time design based on experience of PERT can help overcome the above.

4) Critical Path Method or CPM : Brought out by chemical company Dupont in 1950's.It is essential for effective project management. It is an algorithm for scheduling a set of project activities. It was originally brought out for plant construction and maintenance purposes but now is used in various projects of different natures like aerospace and defense,construction,engineering,software development,etc.
The essential technique for using CPM is to construct a model of the project that includes the following:
  1. A list of all activities required to complete the project (typically categorized within a work breakdown structure),
  2. The time (duration) that each activity will take to completion, and
  3. The dependencies between the activities.
Using these values, CPM calculates the longest path of planned activities to the end of the project, and the earliest and latest that each activity can start and finish without making the project longer. This process determines which activities are "critical" (i.e., on the longest path) and which have "total float" (i.e., can be delayed without making the project longer). In project management, a critical path is the sequence of project network activities which add up to the longest overall duration. This determines the shortest time possible to complete the project. Any delay of an activity on the critical path directly impacts the planned project completion date (i.e. there is no float on the critical path). A project can have several, parallel, near critical paths. An additional parallel path through the network with the total durations shorter than the critical path is called a sub-critical or non-critical path.

As compared to PERT,it is deterministic and not probabilistic as it does not look into circumstantial factors while completing activities of a particular project,but is only bothered about specifying how a activity is to be done and within what time it should be done.

Advantages of CPM:
i) It helps in scheduling, monitoring, and controlling projects.
ii) Project manager can determine actual dates for each activity and compare what should be happening to what is taking place and react accordingly.
iii)The activities and their outcomes can be shown as a network.
iv) Displays dependencies to help scheduling.
v) Evaluates which activities can run parallel to each other.
vi) Determines slack and float times.
vii) Widely used in industry.
viii) Can define multiple, equally critical paths.
ix) CPM determines the project duration, which minimized the sum of direct and indirect costs.

Disadvantages of CPM:
i)   CPM's can be complicated, and complexity increases for larger projects.
ii) Does not handle the scheduling of personnel or the allocation of resources.
iii) The critical path is not always clear and needs to be calculated carefully.
iv) Estimating activity completion times can be difficult.

Both CPM and PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technique) provide the user with project management tools to plan, monitor, and update their project as it progresses. There are many similarities and differences between the two, however.

Similarities between PERT and CPM :
i) Both follow the same steps and use network diagrams.
ii) Both are used to plan the scheduling of individual activities that make up a project.
iii) They can be used to determine the earliest/latest start and finish times for each activity.

Differences between PERT and CPM:
i) PERT is probabilistic whereas CPM is deterministic.
ii) In CPM, estimates of activity duration are based on historical data.
iii) In PERT, estimates are uncertain and we talk of ranges of duration and the probability that an activity duration will fall into that range.
iv) CPM concentrates on Time/Cost trade off.
This article concludes here.


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The next post on this blog will cover:

Financial Administration:
Monetary and fiscal policies; Public borrowings
and public debt Budgets - types
and forms; Budgetary process; Financial
accountability; Accounts and audit.


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