An Analysis of IT-Enabled Change in a Public Organization in Tanzania

Chapter

Abstract

The implementation of information technology (IT) is always associated with a series of complex organizational change issues. In developing countries, these issues are even more complex because the IT infrastructure, technology and governance are still poorer and information systems development and associated resources are less established. Therefore in our research paper we have analyzed the IT-enabled change in Tanzania Revenue Authority, a public organization in Tanzania by applying Ward and Elvin framework. Using this framework, we have analyzed the changes from almost paper to computerized-based business operations and how such changes affected the performance of the organization. The results indicate that, although there is some problems related to the maturity of technology deployment in the country and scarcity of resources, the IT-enabled change (that takes into account both technology and organizational issues) is likely to meet the organizational change objectives. Based upon the results arrived from use of the Ward and Elvin framework, we have summarized six main success factors that are worth noting for replication to other similar IT-enabled changes or research programs including the ones focusing to developing countries. It includes involvement and commitment of senior/top management; engagement of the key stakeholders; alignment of IT and business; identifying and developing necessary skills, competence and motivation; institutionalization of the change process; and incorporation of the learning process for adjustment and future intervention. Finally in conclusion, we could notice that the alignment of IT with business is the backbone of any meaningful IT-enabled change process and is illustrated by use of a benefit dependency network schema.

1 1 Introduction

Information technology (IT) has been regarded as the enabler in achieving business efficiency and cost-effectiveness. It has changed the way organizations conduct their businesses by connecting involved parties instantaneously (Davenport2000). Despite its rapid growth and benefits, it was revealed that its implementation is not simply a technological matter. Instead, it often drives changes in management systems and culture, which can result in a number of issues including power shifts, resistance, and system difficulty, and eventually to the failure of its realization (Markus and Pfeffer1983). A successful IT-enabled change therefore requires a structured management.

Since 1950s, there have been studies for IT-enabled change and the area has grown rapidly and received a lot of attention (Robey and Boudreau1999). Despite such studies many organizations still have difficulty in taking advantage of IT (Kling and Lamb2000), one of the reasons being the conflicting results of relationship between technology and organizational change (Markus and Robey1988) such as preoccupation with the economic value of IT and neglecting the human and organizational aspects of IT-enabled change (Coghlan and McDonagh2001).

With such limitations, several studies have called the need for a well-addressed mixed level of analysis considering the strategic change on the three dimensions of content, context, and process (Pettigrew and Whipp1991). These are adopted to match the particular nature of the social–economic dynamic process of interaction amongst technology, organization, and environment in IT-enabled change (Markus and Robey1988), and approach developed by the IS/IT community to enable IT-based systems to be implemented successfully (Earl1992). One of the results of these attempts is Ward and Elvin framework that essentially is a set of principles to understand and describe conceptual issues and the actual problems that occur in four streams of the intervention, i.e. context, business content, IT content, and outcome.

The goal of this study is to analyze IT-enabled change in Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA), a public organization in Tanzania that has undergone a significant number of changes to enable efficient revenue collection. The analysis is based on Ward and Elvin framework, the emphasis being on coming up with major success factors for IT-enabled change, taking into account inadequate IT infrastructure and relatively less developed capacity for IS development, implementation and integration in such developing country (Tanburn and Singh2001).

The methodology employed is qualitative (Sapsford and Jupp2006). It included interviewing relevant people and collecting data related to current (second period) and past (first period) corporate (business, organizational, and IT) plans, implementations, interventions, and outcomes within a period of 2 months. The main source was various TRA documents, operating applications, Web site, and interviews. We also did related literature to identify the framework and necessary organization data, taking into account technical and organizational issues.

In subsequent sections, we provide an overview of the Ward and Elvin framework followed by a synopsis of the case study and its analysis. Finally, we discuss the main success factors and conclude.

2 2 The Framework for Managing IT-Enabled Change

The framework for managing IT-enabled change (Ward and Elvin1999) is based on the premise that IT alone delivers few benefits. The benefits mainly arise from changes made in processes, practices, and structures that IT enables to pursue the end not the means. The framework was conceived as the effort to recognize and put together issues affecting the outcome of IT-enabled change initiatives to increase the potential for success in changing contexts. The development of the framework has as well recognized that IT has a key role in enabling business change (Davenport and Short1990; Venkatraman1991; Teng et al.1994). It provides a dynamic environment in which an organization can achieve its stated ends to satisfy its socio-economic purpose in a constantly changing situation.

A need for change arises when the actual state of an organization is seen to be problematic. Several interventions in terms of actions are taken thereafter to reach actual outcome. Such interventions provide the content of change that delivers an outcome that satisfies the intent. This is achieved by the process of change that in turn achieves benefits that are perceived to satisfy the intent objectives (Fig.1).
Fig. 1

Satisfying the intent (Ward and Elvin1999)

Although many requirements for change derive from the organizational context, three sources of intent can be identified as a starting point based on what is known at the outset of the intervention; context driven where reason for starting is clear; outcome driven where objectives are clear; or content driven where what has to change is clear. With the framework you can also apply learning and control throughout the intervention lifecycle thus likeliness to meet the intended intent. As we will see later, the framework is used to analyze IT-enabled change in our case, through factors that affect the outcome at each of its seven (1–7) stages (Fig.2).
Fig. 2

Ward and Elvin framework

3 3 The Analysis of a Case Study

In this section, we provide an overview of TRA covering the drivers for change and the situation before, during and after the change from both business and IT perspective. All these findings are then analyzed and discussed using the Ward and Elvin framework.

3.1 3.1 Overview of the Case Study

TRA is a semiautonomous agency of the Government of Tanzania responsible for the administration of the Central Government revenues. It was established in 1995 and its main functions include assessing, collecting, and accounting for all Central Government Revenue.

3.1.1 3.1.1 Situation Before the Change

On its establishment, TRA had an inadequate infrastructure and was divided in three main departments: Sales Tax and Inland Revenue, Income Tax, and Customs and Exercise. The main problem with them was that every department used none or isolated semicomputerized system to accomplish its task. Generally, most of the transactions or communication within and outside the organization required the use of paper. Due to this and organizational structure by then, TRA had inefficiencies services delivery due to inaccuracies, delays, bureaucracies, and duplication of efforts in and across the departments (Kitillya2006).

3.1.2 3.1.2 Drivers for Change

The government of Tanzania depends on the tax collected and therefore embarked in a major tax administration program in 1995. It had a vision to have a revenue authority that can provide services in a transparent manner, speed, flexibility, ease of interaction, and certainty to improve the revenue collection efficiency and cost-effectiveness without increasing tax rates (Ruparel2006).

3.1.3 3.1.3 Process and Situation After the Change

Due to the major problems that TRA was facing and the new vision of the organization to become a Modern Tax Administration (DRP,2007), TRA established first corporate plan. This plan lasted from 1998 to 2003, mainly on rehabilitation but also managed to establish: Automated SYstem for CUstoms Data (ASYCUDA) that handled customs related tax, computerized Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN), with which every taxpayer was registered to get a unique number to handle all tax related payments; VAT Information Processing System (VIPS), in which VAT taxpayers were registered, trader declarations processed and penalties and interest calculated; Central Motor Vehicle Registration System (CMVRS) with which new and existing vehicles were registered; Integrated Financial Information System that simplified management of logistics and financial transactions. Also as an effort to get rid of the isolated tax related systems, started to develop Integrated Income Tax System (ITAX) for integrated Tax operations (Sophia and Wakati2005).

While the first corporate plan had not finished yet, TRA conducted a midterm review focusing on its overall performance. Many separate reviews from different sources were also produced. All of them recommended that TRA had to proceed in a second corporate plan with which a massive input of computerized systems in each and across the department(s) would transform the organization in a Modern Tax Administration (DRP,2007). Having some experience from the first corporate and IT strategy plans and the mistakes that were made and challenges encountered, TRA prepared the new plan not only with the employees’ participation but also with other stakeholders from government, development partners, business community, and TRA board of directors. This was a realistic attempt to design and implement a successful plan that would give TRA the ability to fulfill its main goals (Kitillya,2006).

The second corporate plan started from 2003/2004 to 2007/2008 and together with its aligned IT strategy, among others, focused on the development, integration, and implementation of various information systems (IS) and supportive infrastructure that simplified the internal processes and cost-effective service delivery (Sophia and Wakati2005). This can be separated in two major categories; IS and supportive infrastructure. IS included mainly two major systems: Upgrading and integrating the Automated System for all Customs Data Management (ASYCUDA++) that together with associated infrastructure enabled TRA to link its various custom centers in major airports, harbors, and inland borders stations; ITAX that was integrated with TIN and VIPS enhanced, and accelerated implementation of TRA zone centers in the country. Other were supportive IS like HR management, e-payments via bank systems, and the Web site.

Supportive IT Infrastructure included extension of communication infrastructure, IS department to support corporate systems, and equipments and software for staff productivity. Also different training programs were done not only on IT-related applications but also on change management and other business-related aspects.

Other implemented issues included institutionalized Tax Modernization Program Unit (TMP) to manage the change organization-wide, Large Taxpayers Department to deal with all tax issues for large tax payers, and a new scheme of benefits and services to match relevant market rate and changes made (Kitillya2006).

3.2 3.2 Analysis Based on a Ward and Elvin Framework

As discussed earlier, we use Ward and Elvin framework to analyze our case using a number of factors that affect the outcome at each of its seven (1–7) stages (Fig.2) in two major periods: first corporate plan (1997/1998–2002/2003) and second corporate plan (2003/2004–2007/2008). Given the fact that there were differences in approach and the potential to learn from both, we assess them throughout independently.

3.2.1 3.2.1 Determine the Intent (1)

Given the fact that the origin of the intent influences the process by which the intervention is carried out throughout, we look at the nature of the IT-enabled change in TRA to determine the nature of the intent. Looking at the primary drivers for change it leads us to outcome-based intent. The intervention then focuses on identifying the content of the change that will deliver the outcome (Fig.3). The whole range of the success factors at this stage are analyzed (Table1) and subsequent stages outcome (3), assess context (2), describe content (4), construct intervention process (5), manage process (6), and satisfied intent (7) (Fig.2).
Fig. 3

Benefit dependency network, TRA IT-enabled change

Table 1

Determine the intent: success factors

Case in two periods

1st P

2nd P

 

Involve senior management who make explicit drivers for change

+

++

 

Definition of the problem/opportunity based on current dissatisfaction

+

++

 

Engagement of key-actors – beneficiaries of the changes

++

 

Stakeholders interests identification – supportive, negative, and hostile

++

 

Establishment of a management structure (stages 2–4)

++

 

Keys ++, the factor was understood and dealt with succesfully

    +, the factor was recognized and dealt with adequately

    0, not observed in the case

    − , the factor was not dealt with effectively leading to project problems

    1st P, first corporate/IS plans (1997/1998–2002/2003)

    2nd P, second Corporate /IS Plans (2003/2004-2007/2008)

This coding is used throughout in Tables17

3.2.2 3.2.2 Specify the Outcome (3)

The purpose of this stage is to assess the particular benefits which were to be obtained when the intent objectives are achieved. The relevant success factors including involvement of the key stakeholders are analyzed (Table2). Also TRA benefits dependency network schema (Fig.3), which identifies benefits implied by the intervention objectives and the main changes needed to achieve them are constructed in line with the process of change (Fig.2) and TRA collected-data. This stage and the schema in specific are important and useful as creates alignment of IS/IT functionalities against business changes, benefits, and objectives in the organization (Fig.3).
Table 2

Specify the outcome: success factors

Case in two periods, see Table1 for keys used

1st P

2nd P

 

Use workshop to reconcile viewpoints and share collective knowledge

++

 

Identify benefits due to intervention goals and changes to achieve them

+

++

 

Involve all the key stakeholders, especially the owners of the problem and the actors who have to deliver the solution

++

 

Ensure all benefits are measurable, each owned by its beneficiary

+

++

 

Produce documentation, in form of a benefits dependency network

+

 

3.2.3 3.2.3 Assess the Context (2)

The purpose for this stage is to assess the organizational and business context within which the intervention objectives (Fig.3) have been set, and also to assess the identified and addressed issues that affect the organization’s ability to achieve them. Issues include readiness of the organization to respond to the changes (Table3).
Table 3

Assess the context: success factors

Case in two periods, see Table1 for keys used

1st P

2nd P

 

Ensure intended outcome, objectives, and benefits are appropriate

++

 

Understand the organization’s capability to carry out the intervention and identify areas where knowledge or skills need to be developed

+

 

Involve key stakeholders in a structured/open debate to elicit the factors and assess specific relationships to intervention and likely impact

++

 

Allocate responsibility for action to the owners/stakeholders

+

++

 

3.2.4 3.2.4 Describe the Content (4)

In this stage we assess the intervention process; IT and business content to see how they were defined, developed, and then made to happen (Fig.3 and Table4).
Table 4

Describe the content: success factors

Case in two periods, see Table1 for keys used

1st P

2nd P

 

Understand scope of changes and relationships to satisfy the objectives

++

 

Focus on requirements not designs or solutions

+

 

Maintain a tolerance for ambiguity and a degree of uncertainty

0

0

 

Facilitate collaboration between business managers and IT specialists

+

++

 

3.2.5 3.2.5 Construct the Intervention Process (5)

This is the stage where intervention process (Fig.3) is analyzed. This is done by observing current shortfalls in the state of knowledge in any part of the intervention. It requires consistency and the approach is based on the work of Venkatraman (1991), from which the change analysis heptagon elements might have influenced intervention and are assessed accordingly (Table5).
Table 5

Construct the intervention process: success factors

Case in two periods, see Table1 for keys used

1st P

2nd P

 

Pooling and structuring the knowledge of stakeholders

++

 

Explicit consideration of all known risks and uncertainty

+

 

Setting up management, structures, and roles tailored to change needs

+

++

 

Setting up management, structures, and roles for change coordination

++

 

Documentation/publication of the benefits plan and the key decisions

+

++

 

Production of interventions strategy and its communication channels

+

 

Handling changes affecting business processes, internal/related parties

-

++

 

Describing the key aspects of the IS/IT in the change

+

++

 

Changing in attitude and behavior to deliver the benefits

-

+

 

3.2.6 3.2.6 Manage the Process (6)

The purpose here is to assess the activities of the intervention (Fig.3). This involves seeing how they were monitored and the flexibility for adjustment so that the intervention converges on an outcome that satisfies the intent, while recognizing that the actual outcome may differ somewhat from the outset (Table6).
Table 6

Manage the process: success factors

Case in two periods, see Table1 for keys used

1st P

2nd P

 

Monitor project continually to ensure the process and control regimes

++

 

Take early action to remove uncertainties/gap in knowledge

+

 

Make explicit the interdependencies of the business and IT

+

++

 

Ensure process is focused on delivering benefits that satisfy the intent

+

++

 

Ensure that allocated roles and responsibilities are fulfilled

+

++

 

3.2.7 3.2.7 Satisfied Intent (7)

The goal of the interventions is to satisfy the objectives established. In this stage, we therefore review the degree to which the objectives set were met. Considering importance of alignment of IT and business goals in the IT-enabled change, results are presented below based on the five TRA corporate goals (Fig.3).

Increase revenue collection in a cost-effective way

TRA increased revenue collection since IT-enabled changes were introduced. During first period, its revenue collection, for example, in 2002 was US$1,145m which is 165% increase compared to US$404m collected in 1995. Also more increase is observed in second period, for example, in year 2005 collected US$1,679m. Such increase (Fig.4), is an indication on how this objective was met, among others, due to increased compliance and efficiency in collection and management of the revenues through the use of automated systems like ITAX and ASYCUDA (Fig.3).

Integrate TRA operations

The integration and automation of the three TRA’s main departments as well as development and integration of associated information systems; ITAX, TIN, VIPS, and ASYCUDA (Fig.3), provided efficient and cost-effective way of managing and monitoring the tax payers.

High quality and responsive customer service

Customer satisfaction has increased through a number of developments including Web site that enables customers to conveniently access various information and documents such as tax information, forms, and reports (TRA2007). Similarly has enabled taxpayers’ e-payments through banking institutions using Inter-Bank Settlement System (TISS). Also the use of all Revenue Information Systems in place increased the quality and responsiveness to serve the customers (Fig.3).

Promote tax compliance

Tax compliance has increased among tax-payers due to the implementation of the equitable, consistent, and transparent IS that improve easy access to tax information and services as well as the introduction of a Large Taxpayers Department that enabled integration of VAT and Income Tax operations (Fig.3).

Improve staff competence, motivation, integrity and accountability

TRA improved skills and level of professionalism during the change including change management, customer care, total tax person for integrated operations, and specific training on new processes and procedures (Kitillya,2006). Also TRA upgraded level of staff benefits and working environment that among others improved staff motivation (Table5). Additionally introduced HR IS that strengthened and allowed easy way to serve, control, and manage the staff (Fig.3).

Also the purpose at this stage is to understand the particular contextual and process management factors that influence the organization’s ability to succeed for further improvement or any other change initiatives (Table7).
Table 7

Satisfied intent: success factors

Case in two periods, see Table1 for keys used

1st P

2nd P

 

Plan to hold review meetings after implementation of the changes

++

0

 

Involve stakeholders and ensure they prepare views before the meetings

++

0

 

Focus on the achievement of the intervention’s objectives

++

0

 

Learn for future interventions rather than attribute blame

++

0

 

3.2.8 3.2.8 Problems Encountered and Solutions

The organization also encountered numerous problems, mostly in first period (Table16). This was from organizational, technological, culture to behavior (Venkatraman1991; Orlikowiski and Barley2001). It included staff resistance that was resolved by change management programs; staff turnover that was resolved by a new schemes with competitive remunerations; inadequate/timely fund and organization wide coordination that were resolved by modernization program unit the changes organization wide ; and inadequate national IT infrastructure that though expensive, TRA developed its own telecommunication infrastructure that links TRA offices across the country (Kitillya2006, Sophia and Wakati2005).

3.2.9 3.2.9 Major Success Factors

Use of Ward and Elvin framework to analyze IT-enabled change in TRA brought forward success factors in each stage (Table17). We hereby categorize and discuss the most critical ones that are worth replicating to other similar IT-enabled change or research programs, including the ones focusing to developing countries.

Involvement and commitment of senior/top management

IT-enabled change involves IT and business change that cut across the organization. The involvement of top management in the nurturing of such changes and commitment to its development is an important aspect that can make the intervention succeed or fail (Kling and Lamb 1999). Furthermore in specific case of developing countries where IT is relatively new with traditional culture-oriented behaviours, a drive from top is required to bring the rest on board. In our case, overall involvement of the senior management was an important aspect as can be seen in second period where even board members were involved and therefore much better results (Table1).

Engagement of the key stakeholders

Implementing an IT-enabled change requires an understanding of the drivers for change. Whether they originate in the context of the business, particular performance improvement, business/IT content problems/opportunities, or a combination of them, it is critical to determine the degree of dissatisfaction with the current situation as perceived and agreed by the key stakeholders. This helps to determine broader view of the need and approach to the change, but also gain commitment of these stakeholders during the construction and management of intervention process (Table12) ensuring that intended outcome, objectives, and benefits are appropriate to the intervention (Fig.2, Table13, and5). This is even more crucial for IT-enabled change that involves integration across the departments, processes, and external parties, like in this case. In our case, it was seen that in the second period there are more involvement of stakeholders and this led to better intervention and results.

Alignment of IT and business

Successful IT-enabled changes require alignment of IT and business. When effectively linked with improvements to business processes, advances in IT enables change to do business better and more competitively than before (Pearlson and Saunders2006). It is an enabler of business transformation, a process that requires challenging the old assumptions and shed the old rules that made the business under perform in the first place (Hammer1990). This way in our case it was important to assess the current dissatisfaction (Table1) and scope of change (Table4), identify benefits implied by the intervention objectives, business changes, and IS/IT functionalities needed to achieve them (Fig.3 and4). All these indicate that for alignment to work should focus on requirements first and not solutions, which then at the later stage allow implementation of ICT Systems that are “Business-led” rather than “Technology driven” ensuring the business and IT contents are aligned. The assessment in our case indicates that in the second period more attention were paid to these factors thus achieving more alignment between them. This is the major factor in the change and its importance is also supported by various research works (Henderson and Venkatraman1993; Luftman1996,2000; Papp2001).

Identifying and developing necessary skills, competence,and motivation

IT-enabled change process also require skilled, competent, and motivated workforce (Venkatraman1991). Therefore understanding the organization’s capability to carry out the intervention and identifying areas where knowledge or skills are lacking need to be developed (Table3) as well as changing in attitude and attractive incentives (Table5) are essential. In assessing these concerns, we have seen that some of them were encountered especially in first period, thus slowing down the change process. However, after addressing those in the second period accelerated the change (Table3 and5) and therefore its importance in the change process.

Institutionalization of the change process

IT-enabled change process needs to be managed for enabling changes in the work practices, business processes, and structures of an organization (Kling and Tillquist2000). Given such variety of aspects and its effect in an organization, to reach the intervention goals need to institutionalize tasks involved (Levinson1988). In fact many IT-enabled projects have not realized, or delayed realizing their benefit because the change process did not recognize the institutionalization phase (Benjamin and Levinson1993). In our case, we have seen that institutionalization was very important and this is seen in the second period results where it was instituted. It allowed setting up of management structures, communication channels, and responsibilities for coordination of the change process (Table5). Similarly, control and monitoring was made to be continual thus ensuring that benefits are measured (Table2) and process and control regimes remain fit for the purpose (Table6).

Incorporation of the learning process for adjustment and future intervention

Even if it is possible to envisage an outcome that will satisfy the intent (Fig.1 and3), there is no guarantee that the specified content will deliver the outcome over the time. Consequently, the process of change needs to be adaptable to cope with evolving context and incorporate periods of learning to overcome shortfalls in the state of the organization’s knowledge. In our case, it is a success story as in second period goals were achieved (Table16), this being the result of what was learnt and incorporated from the first period (Table7).

4 4 Conclusions

In this study, we analyzed IT-enabled change in a public organization in Tanzania, TRA, using Ward and Elvin framework. The framework provided the mechanism to measure an IT-enabled change intervention. Its approach on benchmarking successful factors and flexibility built around it showed that it is quite useful even for a developing country like Tanzania, where IT infrastructure and related resources are scarce and information systems development less established.

The analysis of the IT-enabled change and the respective implementation indicates that use of IT has a great potential in the process and is a key enabler to productivity growth. However, it was also seen that there are important issues including organizational structure, culture, and reengineering of the processes that need close attention. This is also indicated in the problems encountered during the change that included cultural issues like resistance to change, organizational issues like institutionalization of change process and dependency on external funding, and external context issues like inadequate national wide IT infrastructure.

The framework in conjunction with the case indeed helped in pointing out important successful factors worth replicating especially in the developing countries where IT infrastructure and associated culture is still on the infant stages. The success factors were observed to include involvement and commitment of senior/top management; engagement of the key stakeholders; alignment of IT and business; identifying and developing necessary skills; competence and motivation; institutionalization of the change process; and incorporation of the learning process for adjustment and future intervention. Specifically, we have noted that the alignment of IT and business is the backbone of any meaningful IT-enabled change process in an organization and we illustrated it with the benefit dependency network (Fig.3).

5 5 Recommendation for Further Research

This study has used the Ward and Elvin framework to analyze IT-enabled change from perspective of the entire organization. It will be interesting to do further studies on each of the major information systems where the change process can catch more specific business changes, benefits, and objectives. Specific systems could be Integrated Income Tax System (ITAX) and Automated SYstem for CUstoms DAta (ASYCUDA). This way, among others, more success factors can be identified and added to the pool of identified success factors and further used for similar purpose.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer and System SciencesStockholm University/Royal Institute of TechnologySweden

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