8. Increase visibility of and trust in available IT solutions

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Context

For a public administration to reuse another administration’s IT solution, it should first know that the solution exists, where it is located, and then trust that it is safe, technically mature and documented enough to be reused.

Public administrations already make their reusable IT solutions available online in a number of national and European registries or catalogues. However, although there are already many such registries available, it is often difficult for public administrations to make a sound decision about which solution to choose because of the poor quality of the description provided.

Another issue is that public administrations do not share information in advance about upcoming shared services, public APIs or solutions under development in general. This results in potential solution vendors not being able to sufficiently prepare for opportunities to develop shared services for public administrations or to build on publicly available APIs. Consequently, public administrations do not obtain timely and adequate responses to their needs.

recommendation

8.1. Use common registries to share your solutions

 

To facilitate the identification of and access to IT solutions, it is recommended that public administrations make them available in single access points such as specialised common registries, instead of limiting publication on their own websites. A common registry is a system devoted to the proper structuring, publishing and description of IT solutions (including governance schemas, business processes, technical architecture, software code, etc.).

Supporting instrument Joinup.eu is a European platform that allows public administrations to: access solutions published in a central catalogue; share experiences and good practices; and work together in a collaborative way. [16]

By populating a comprehensive registry of IT solutions open to different organisations, public administrations increase their visibility and the possibility that their published IT solutions will be reused.

recommendation

8.2. Use standard ways to describe your IT solutions

 

If public administrations do not trust an IT solution, they are most unlikely to use it. Raising awareness and communicating about IT solutions, as well as providing examples of their successful reuse, help build trust, credibility and confidence.

Public administrations should describe their solutions in standardised ways [6] when publishing them in common registries, thus facilitating their categorisation in different themes (policy, business, technology) and their overall searchability.

If other registries use similar ways of describing their content, solutions can easily be published in several such registries, increasing their visibility.

recommendation

8.3. Provide insights into the quality, usage and support structure of your IT solutions

Information about an IT solution’s levels of quality and expected support is fundamental to any decision as to whether to reuse it or not. To this end, administrations that share their IT solutions should document the following information as a minimum:

• the governance and business models, including how sustainability is taken into account;

• the aim of the solution and related policies or legislation;

• the solution’s target audience, including the size of the organisation(s) using it;

• the targeted sector (for sectoral solutions);

• the solution’s functional requirements and use cases;

• a description of the business process;

• the maintenance and support structure;

• test scenarios and results;

• user experience tests;

• planned future releases;

• reuse and deployment cases and metrics.

It is important to note that standardised descriptions on their own are not sufficient; the quality of the data included in a description is paramount.

recommendation

Recommended measures for central bodies

 

• Operate national/regional registries and consolidate them at EU level

Central bodies should support public administrations that want to publish their IT solutions by providing them with the needed registries. These should preferably be part of a central European registry (see also section 8.1), thereby maximising their reuse potential. Central bodies should make sure that registries use standard ways of describing and categorising solutions, such as ADMS-AP and EIRA, and that they support multiple languages.

Supporting instrument ADMS-AP is an example of a standard way of describing IT solutions included in registries/catalogues. [6]

• Provide Guidance on registries

Common registries should help public administrations assess the extent to which their solutions are reusable and can be included in a registry. Using a standard checklist to validate the solutions’ compliance levels against the reusability criteria required by the registry would facilitate this.

Supporting instrument The European Commission has developed the Reusability Guideline and Checklists to help public administrations assess the reusability of IT solutions. [23]

• Organise workshops to raise awareness and share know-how

Central bodies should organise thematic workshops focusing on the sharing and reuse of solutions (e.g. around specific themes, such as e-Identification, geospatial solutions, etc.) in order to raise awareness and develop the necessary expertise across public administrations.

• Organise exchanges between public administrations

Public servants should take part in study visits and twinning projects with other public administrations. Collaborating with other bodies would help public administrations to understand common needs and encourage the sharing and reuse of solutions.

• Share information on APIs and requirements for shared services

Central bodies should announce upcoming public APIs in order to make solution vendors aware of interfaces through which they could develop solutions. This would facilitate the timely and efficient delivery of solutions that meet public administrations’ needs.

Similarly, central bodies should disseminate information about requirements for upcoming shared services to offer solution vendors insights into the future needs of public administrations. This will allow vendors to plan ahead for their possible business opportunities.

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