Interview with Andre Lohn about Restructurings in the Public Sector

André Lohn is one of two consultants who is responsible for the organizational establishment and the development of the public sector department within Detecon.
Detecon is an international consulting company that unites management and technology consulting in a unique way. One of its focus industries is the national and global public sector. Detecon provides its consulting services for ministries, large and medium public authorities and large cities and municipalities. The consultancy focus is located in the fields of human resource management, modernization of administration, optimization of the service for citizen and private sector enterprises and the implementation of the customer-tailored egovernment strategy and its execution. Detecon consulting and implementation solutions derived from the use of information and communications technology (ICT).

Sabine Klug: Mr. Lohn, what makes Detecon special?

André Lohn: Well, that is easy. We don’t stop at strategy, we support our clients the whole way to implementation and operations. Around the globe, together with out clients we are working on egovernment solutions from our holistic know-how regarding strategy and organizational design as well as the use of state-of-the-art technologies.

Sabine Klug: We know that you are taking a close look at the trends and challenges of the national public sector in Germany. What are the main challenges for large cities and municipalities in Germany?

André Lohn: Beside the major trends in the public sector for instance demographic change, intelligent and networked processes, efficient and modern public authorities and dynamic public private partnerships we currently see two major challenges: Especially medium and large cities have to resolve the problem that on the hand, they intend to develop, increase and optimize their services and while on the other hand, they have to reduce the costs and to work on the fiscal consolidation. The municipalities find themselves caught between paying their debts and to move on from an “old fashion” public authority to a modern, innovative and citizen- and enterprise-oriented service provider.

Sabine Klug: Are these two major challenges for public authorities even solvable?

André Lohn: Sure, it is one of the biggest challenges nationwide for small, medium and large cities. This problem can not be solved within one or two years. To find a dedicated solution for the most municipalities is a sustainable holistic and fully integrated approach of transformation required.

Sabine Klug: What do cities of every size have to do? How does such a sustainable holistic and fully integrated approach looks like?

André Lohn: First of all them have to create and establish a three fold strategy. The three fold strategy comprises following key areas of action:

- Joint public marketing efforts/strategies
- Efficiency measurements (finance, organization, process and IT)
- eGovernment strategy and its execution

Systematic work on these three action areas is essential for the sustainable success for each city in the future.

Sabine Klug: Could you explain the three folder strategy in detail, please?

André Lohn: Yes, of course. Only focusing on cost cutting programs in the public sector is not the right solution to compensate the empty pockets. Municipalities of all sizes have to think about new ways to generate additional public revenues, to reduce public expenditures, to improve the performance and services and to be state-of-the-art of using IT as business enabler in the age of Amazone and Google.

Medium and large cities have to position themselves as business areas and also as attractive areas for citizens. Currently some local cities are strengthening its location by connecting themselves to one common business district. They need to create new marketing concepts and think about new business models to open up new sources of income.
Furthermore municipalities have to save costs by optimizing their process landscape and by establishing an efficient organization. Centralizing and bundling cross-functional departments and the introcuction of shared service entities is one way to reduce the internal expenditures and to get more efficiency. But restructuring measurements within the public sector are not comparable to the private industry sector. The personnel and cultural aspects have to be more considered within the transformation. A step by step organizational transformation is necessary to be successful.

And finally the preparation and execution of an egovernment strategy has to be implemented to improve the public services while at the same time cost savings can be reached. Especially the digitalization of public processes help to enhance the efficiency and has a positive effect on the reputation of the public authority. We have created a well-established egovernment readiness check. It is an entire assessment to identify the gap between the target picture and expectation of the customer as well as his current maturity level of egovernment. We are supporting our customers to introduce egovernment in an efficient way.

Sabine Klug: Seems to be a massive load of work but do public authorities have enough time to wait for the long-term results?

André Lohn: Absolutely right, there is a lot of work to do but our fully integrated and holistic consultant approach comprises also quick wins, short-, medium- and long-term measurements to achieve the required and expected results.
First of all we offer our customers a an efficiency workshop for free so that the customer has an overview of all activities we are planning to do in the future. If the customer wants to focus on one efficiency action area we are able to prepare and create a customer-tailored consulting solution.

by Sabine Klug (Turnaround Management Society)
The Interview took place at the DETECON headquater in Cologne, Germany
in June 2012

André Lohn is Junior Partner at Detecon International GmbH and can be reached at:
Topics: Public
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