At this week’s Government Technology Summit in Canberra, a number of speakers referred to delivering a common “change of address” transaction as a possible 'killer application', where there is real potential to deliver value to business and citizens. However, those who have tried, even within their own agency, spoke about frustrations and difficulties.
So how can something so simple, turn out to be so deceptively difficult?
At first, the problem may appear to relate to the lack of common standards in coding name and address, particularly where there are legacy applications. But, while tedious to deal with, common coding standards can be dealt with over time. Therefore, coding standards alone do not explain the level of difficulty being experienced by project managers.
We need to look more systemically to understand the underlying cause of the problem. In fact, there are many correct answers to the question “What is your address?”. The correct answer depends very much on who’s asking the question.
Consider some examples: At a personal level, an individual may have a residential address as well as a post box. In today’s blended families, mum, dad and the kids may have different addresses. Indeed shared custody of children is now becoming far more common. For small business owners, there may be a separate business address and another address for serving official notices . Also the location where their business operates may be quite different from location where administration is carried out. Add a few investment properties, and it is easy to get close to a dozen addresses, just for a small business owner. The problem with change of address therefore relates as much to harmonising complex business processes, as to developing standardised computer transactions.
When speaking at the Government Technology Summit,Federal Minister Gary Nairn observed that 80% of government decisions are location based. Government agencies are therefore right to putting effort into harmonising change of address, but it may not be the simple undertaking that was initially presented.