E-governance is a wide area, covering various aspects of governance and its duties and rights towards the citizens, government employees, other governments, businesses etc using information and communication technologies. This article is written mostly in the context of India. However the focus is relating E-governance to Enterprise Resource Planning systems. ERP is a specific area of Information Technology. The relation between E-governance and ICT is much wider. But let us focus on the relation between E-governance and ERP here.

Typically ERP systems have been used by businesses. Initially they were specific to Manufacturing businesses. But the concept of managing Resources efficiently is not limited to just businesses. Even government departments need to manage resources efficiently. What are these resources? Some of them could be money, human resources, machinery, land, telecom spectrum, oil fields, coal mines licenses etc. Any government function is normally given a mandate by a higher function or authority in terms of resources available to it and how to make use of them. For example in India, each District has a Collector, a carry forward and somewhat relic governance function from the legacy of the British raj or rule. However even today the Collector plays an important role in management of resources like land especially in rural areas. So logically we can design a software system relevant to the needs of a Collector and call it a Collector ERP.

Many governance functions like taxation, passport authority, municipal corporations etc already use some ERP. But they use it in a limited way. It is mostly used for the accounts and payroll functions. Rarely are ERP’s customized for governance functions. There is huge scope for customizing and then globalizing or spreading across the country. But because of fear of government procedures and issues, software companies are avoiding the customizing. The governance authority finds a way by which they can fulfill their entire process using some standard ERP and some other software or just simply manual process. Some of the governance functions like Income Tax department or Company Affairs outsource most of the user facing functions to large software vendors. These vendors then build a custom made system for the purpose. The cost of developing and maintaining such systems is huge. Normally ERP is identified as that system that takes care of backend functions. But this need not be true. ERP systems can both cover frontend or customer facing functions or any functions concerning data sharing with related governance functions. Say for example the data sharing between Income Tax and Company Affairs.

Currently most of the governance authorities are developing their own customized systems, with or without using an ERP. The integration across authorities is normally an afterthought and is a patch up activity. However there are some initiatives like Aadhar, which are data centered rather than process centered and hence lay the foundations for seamless integration. It is this concept of data centered systems that can provide a much more flexible and integrated e-governance infrastructure. The benefit will not only be in terms of cost savings but much more in terms of systems flexibility and ease of handling change. Right to Information (RTI) is currently viewed by most government departments as a burden and hindrance to their day to day activities. But once the e-governance infrastructure is in form of data centered systems, RTI can be automated to a large extent, thus removing the burden on the government employees. It will also introduce openness and transparency in the functioning of various governance functions. Such systems will also force a re-think of the many ambiguities and anomalies that exist in our governance. We the citizens can already view the status of our passport applications or Income Tax returns online. Techniques like datawarehousing and MDM (master data management) can be applied effectively to build such data centered systems. This could very well change the idea of what an ERP is supposed to be, rather than let it remain what it currently is.

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The author Vispi Munshi is Founder of ERP India and has vast consulting experience with various ERP Softwares. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..