What was your specific mandate upon joining Adaa, and what were your opening priorities?
When I joined Adaa, I fully reviewed the center's strategic direction and operations, mainly to determine its successes and what needed to be updated from 2016, when the center was established. Part of my mandate was to connect with Adaa's main stakeholders and identify their needs and challenges. This involved holding interviews with ministers and the heads of government agencies to determine how Adaa can support them in improving their performances. In addition, I reviewed Adaa's product portfolios and performance reports in order to enhance the government's performance-based decision making. I also wanted to learn about the measurement of performance from mature governments that have much experience with the process. In my efforts to shape Adaa's new strategic direction, I greatly benefited from the experiences of the UK, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, and the UAE. One of the main performance management takeaways from such benchmarking was that government agencies in mature countries measure their own performances and report them to central government performance agencies. Today, Adaa reports on the performances of government agencies, and we will continue to do so; however, our aim is to enable these agencies to measure their own performances. Adaa found it challenging to assess 582 government agencies; this horizontal spread was causing the analysis in Adaa reports to suffer. Therefore, to ensure the accuracy of Adaa's reports, I agreed with the board of directors that Adaa should focus on measuring national priorities and gradually let go of measuring the performances of agencies. Furthermore, to promote transparency in this process, beginning in 2021, I plan to publish the performance data. One of Adaa's major new measurements is the national satisfaction index of public services, and the baseline value of this index will be generated, also in 2021. This index is the result of evaluations of beneficiaries' satisfaction with several journeys. Finally, I wish to mention one of Adaa products—an app called “Watani." This app allows beneficiaries, including citizens, visitors, and business owners, to evaluate government services. The data collected helps us to evaluate public sector performance from the perspective of beneficiaries. In conclusion, I aim to create a more focused agency, one that helps government agencies to improve their performances and build their internal performance management capabilities.
Did you have to change how you measured organizations and the progress on the vision as a result of the pandemic?
COVID-19 has had several positive effects. Financially, it made us reprioritize our project initiatives at the governmental and organizational levels. At the governmental level, we looked at the vision's initiatives to reprioritize our work and determine the most important initiatives. As a result of the pandemic, we had to review the government's affected KPIs. Some were positively affected, such as the massive growth in mobile payments, while others were negatively affected, such as international tourism. It should be noted that most KPIs related to digitalization and the IT sector did well.
How have digitalization efforts like “Watani" helped you measure the government response to the virus?
Watani opened a great gate for us to measure beneficiaries' experiences with public services. As the app's success depends on a large number of beneficiaries participating in the evaluation of a service, we added a push feature to nudge users into giving us their feedback immediately after using a service. For example, if a person obtains a service from the Ministry of Commerce, when they are finished, they receive a message from Watani asking for their feedback. We are also targeting the integration of the Watani app with other successful apps, such as Absher, to obtain more accurate and timely data. Today, we can access many services online; therefore, next year, we plan to give Watani a new dashboard that will integrate with governmental electronic platforms. Last December, we celebrated the integration of the first government agency, the Saudi Red Crescent Authority, with Watani, and we look forward to receiving the feedback. Our strategy is to evolve our mission and approach. We plan to shift every three years, from now until the end of 2022; then every three years from 2022, we will revise our strategic plan. For the first three years, we will focus on measuring the general performance and contributions of a limited number of major government agencies to the national plans and Vision 2030. We chose these agencies carefully by looking at their budgets, beneficiaries, number of services they offer, and whether they are members of CEDA. At the end of the final year, they will graduate as government agencies and can then measure themselves. This is part of our strategy to ensure that we have a mature performance measurement environment.
After the pandemic, what will be different this year for your organization?
During the pandemic, we learned much that was new, such as an increased reliance on technology, how to save time, and how to think about our current products and initiatives. We looked at how these things contribute to our achieving our strategy, and we revisited and prioritized our strategy so that we learn new things. The pandemic taught us many lessons, the most important of which are the uses of technology. Although we had technology before the pandemic, we did not use it to its full potential. We have used this moment as an opportunity to modernize and reassess our strategy. Despite the challenges, I am confident we will emerge stronger.