Digital Transformation: Evaluating Costs

General Blogs July 9, 2016 By Victor Zorin

Having completed a few digital transformation projects in federal, state and local government, we would like to share a few insights.

Digital transformation in government is considered to be a major undertaking. We have seen serious moves in this area in the UK and it is brewing here in Australia with the establishment of the Digital Transformation Office.

Existing technology is part of the transformation agenda, and in our experience, is misaligned with the new, technology driven, real-time connected citizen. People nowadays prefer to do everything online, even better, on their mobile phones. They expect high quality digital experiences. What do they often find when they come to deal with the government? … .

The old friend – PDF. They have to download, print out and fill it in. On many occasions they also have to download instructions or a whole guide book to understand how to complete a form. Then of course they have to put a stamp on an envelope and post it or drive to the agency and stand in line to hand it over, wasting time and money. But that is not the end of it. After all the trouble they still might receive a letter, email or call informing them that some important information is missing and, in the best-case scenario, they will have to do it all over again, or, in the worst, that their applications have been rejected and they lost their fees.

In Australia, councils (local government agency) have 120-150 various application forms – registrations, permits, complaints – and in majority of cases only 5-10 of them have been migrated online.

The government costs associated with processing paper forms are significant. The labor costs start piling up from the moment a clerk opens an envelope containing a paper form (mail-processing costs). The form is screened for obvious mistakes and omissions and applicant is notified by mail, phone call or email (more costs). Data from the form has to be entered into an internal system (data-entry costs). The paper form is either stored (filing and storage costs) or scanned and uploaded into digital storage (scanning costs). To answer enquiries, help desks or call centers are created. A significant part of the enquiries consists of people asking questions about how to fill in a form.

Traditional channels by which government agencies communicate with the citizens, such as face-to-face, telephone and mail, are costly as they require time and resources. Digital transaction, on the other hand, is more than 50 times cheaper than face-to-face transaction, 40 times cheaper than communication over the phone and more than 6 times cheaper than using email. It makes sense to replace traditional channels, where possible, with digital options.

There are many benefits of moving paper-based transactions online, such as saving time and money for customers, raising their satisfaction and trust, and improving the ability for government employees to access data remotely. The more transactions completed online the higher the level of productivity of delivering public services, and the costs are significantly reduced.

We have created a simple online calculator which allows to estimate the Payback Period of ICT expenditure based on complexity of existing business processes and associated costs. It is located at This calculator uses real figures based on our implementation experiences on all levels of government and businesses.

The calculator can help organizations to identify and plan the sequence of services that are to be digitized. Such sequence can be based on payback period, cost of implementation, timing and complexity of change to a selected business process.

Use of open-source platforms such as Liferay, off-the-shelf fit-for-purpose tools and avoiding bespoke software development greatly boosts reduction in implementation and operation costs of digital services.

Digital Transformation in both organizations and government agencies will continue to be a strategic priority for at least another decade, don’t’ miss the train.

FifthOcean Technologies specialises in transitioning of businesses and government organisations from manual, paper and primitive bespoke eForms based processes into a fully integrated and secure online environment. FifthOcean Technologies is a vendor of an enterprise smart eForms platform - TransForm Engine.

TransForm Engine runs on Liferay CE and EE portals.

Copy of blog is also available on this page.

Using Liferay to Build Online Regulatory Environments

General Blogs April 18, 2013 By Victor Zorin

Challenges of regulatory environments
What is a regulatory environment? One example is an Australian statutory authority that administers state gambling and liquor laws, including management of licensing and compliance.
We had already worked with them to produce a Liferay-based intranet for employees and several specialised extranet portals.
They wanted us to help them come up with an improved way of managing the issuing and renewal for each of their  100+ types of licenses, which were all currently in paper/scanned format. We discovered that the one major challenge faced by these types of organisations is that end users (customers, applicants) expect an uncomplicated, easy to use, and unified front with which to interact BUT regulatory organisations by nature are comprised of a large number of highly disconnected business stakeholders.
These disconnected business stakeholders include:
  • processing officers/clerks
  • business unit managers
  • legal/paralegal
  • IT
  • Security auditors
AND  this disconnection is a major roadblock.
An online environment that meets the expectations of regulatory bodies and their users, can only be tenable if these stakeholders are able to interact in a managed way, especially when a large number of documents and processes are in play.
The challenge of this project was to develop a SmartForms software product for the effective collection and processing of structured information from customers, employees and other stakeholders on a single development, maintenance and operational platform.  This includes surveys, collection of feedback, applications of any type, as well as a wide range of business specific product and service flows.
In our work with the authority we achieved this connectivity and the resulting online regulatory environment via a transition framework we developed which comprehensively covers all facets of analysis, implementation, migration and maintenance.
  • We used Liferay Portal Community Edition 5.2.3 to build this environment, in conjunction with JBoss Application Server 5 running MyOffice24x7 SmartForms.
  • System is currently running 55 different forms, which each on average about 500 fields. Largest form contains almost 1500 fields, which we believe to be one of the longest online forms in the world.
  • Each group of forms relies upon the connectivity of, on average, 5 different stakeholders within the organization (some with external stakeholders).
The SmartForms product is available for purchase to public and private sector organisations where it can be customised to the specific needs of the organisation and made available through subscription where the SmartFormss can be accessed via a cloud service. This service is also intended to provide access and manage a collection of templates, forms and associated libraries developed and shared by the global community.
 We have comprehensively documented this transition framework as a whitepaper ‘Moving Away From Paper Forms – Benefits, Challenges and Solutions’, which is available on our website
Examples of using Liferay as a Digital Transformation platform can also be found at
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